Thursday’s theme for Love Your Data Week is finding data, making it timely to take a look at the resources that we have here at NYU for researchers seeking data. Bobst libraries receives many requests for data–increasingly so as data-driven research questions have begun to inform a larger number of disciplines than ever before.
Needing data and knowing what source providers are offering data is only the beginning of such inquiries, however. No two data providers follow the same approach to formatting and serving up their data, and keep in mind that it helps to keep your search relatively open ended until you see the format that data is available in. For example, one might seek population health data and find it in a number of providers, from the National Institutes of Health and Center for Disease Control to the U.S. Census. But the data provided by those sources might be aggregated, sampled, or available in exploratory (rather than downloadable) formats. Data, while plentiful, may be limited it what it measures. So build in extra time for transforming your datasets, especially if you need to link them to other datasets in your arsenal.
Here at NYU Data Services, we have aggregated many of the data resources available at the library and beyond into a handy Finding Data guide that allows you to search by genre and provider type. And it helps you consider the differences between pure data and statistics, two common formats in which providers will offer information.
As when accumulating your own data, don’t forget to document your sources each step of the way, saving you time at the end of your research process and making it harder to make errors in citation!