Navigate & Search for Datasets

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Dataset sites have varied layouts, organization, and search capabilities.

  • Some sites are better browsed by collections and categories than a search box.
  • Use keywords when a search box is provided.
    • Anticipate the words researchers would likely use. Experiment with keywords by going broad and alternatively going specific.
  • Use quotations around phrases.
    • A search for video games might return many results with the words separated, but "video games" can return results with the words in that exact order.
  • Some search boxes will allow Boolean operators like AND, OR, and NOT.
  • Use filters to refine search results.

Evaluate Datasets

Not all datasets are good. Evaluate them critically. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who collected the data?
    • What are their credentials? Are they respected experts?
  • Who sponsored the data collection?
    • Was it collected as part of an organization's mission? Or for advocacy? Or for business purposes? Or to mislead?
  • When was the data collected?
    • Is there more up-to-date data? Could the data be out-of-date or incomplete even if more recent data doesn't exist?
  • Could the data be skewed?
    • Could there be unintentional bias? Could there have been human error in the compilation process?
  • Can you verify the data?
    • How was the data gathered and compiled? Does the data align with similar data collected by others?