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How and where can students find data to re-use in a research project?

By Ruth Wainman, on 14 December 2018

This guide will aim to provide some useful advice for students on finding data to re-use during their research projects.

Data Resources Online

You may want to start by using UCL Explore to search for research studies based on secondary datasets. From there, you can consult the Registry of Research Data Repositories (re3data.org) – a global repository of research data. It is also best kept in mind that different datasets require different permissions. If you are planning to use safeguarded or controlled access data, you will need to abide by additional conditions for accessing it. For example, this may include specific forms of citation, depositor permission to registration and authentication of the users of the data. There are plenty of online courses to help you navigate your way through the use of digital datasets. The University of Edinburgh run an online research data management training programme called MANTRA to help researchers learn how to manage their digital data. Furthermore, the UK Data Service provides a range of dataset and topic guides along with video tutorials on how to use data.

Use your Subject Librarian to find Data

The role of the librarian has greatly expanded in recent years and so offers another port of call for training and support on finding datasets. All students are free to contact their subject liaison librarian for further advice in their area of study. Library Services currently run a specialist training session for students in the Departments of Political Science and Economics via the Doctoral School and have additionally collated a list of the main sources of socio-economic data which UCL subscribes to. The Research Data Management team is also on hand to help with any queries students have whilst they run fortnightly drop-in sessions during term-time.

Attend a conference

If you want to get up to speed with the latest developments taking place in your field of research, then why not attend a conference? You can find relevant and often free conferences to attend on UCL’s RDM blog and other mailing lists found on Jiscmail including the Research Data Management discussion list. The Science and Engineering South Consortium also produces a mailing list which often contains details of conferences and workshops aimed at early career researchers. Speaking to other people is another good way of finding data directly from those who already possess accumulated knowledge during their own research.

Further References

For further information about library resources, see the following pages from UCL’s Library Services pages: