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USP 125: Design of Social Research: Data & Statistics

Step-by-Step Plan for Finding Datasets and Statistics

1. Think about who might collect the data.

  • Could it have been collected by a government agency?

Possible agencies: ____________________________________________________________________________

  • A nonprofit/nongovernmental organization?

Possible organizations: ________________________________________________________________________

  • A private business or industry group?

Possible sources: ____________________________________________________________________________

  • Academic researchers?

Possible projects or centers: ____________________________________________________________________


2. Look for publications that cite the dataset

  • e.g. scholarly articles or government reports.
  • Quick tip: use your article search strategies for Google Scholar and add the word “dataset”

Sample search: _______________________________________________________________________________


3. Once you know that what you want exists, it's time to hunt it down.

  • Is it freely available on the web? (Pro tip: check Google—you never know!)
  • Can it be requested directly from the researcher? There’s a reason articles usually include author contact information…
  • Or part of a package to which the library already subscribes, such as those below?
  • IQSS Dataverse (free)
  • Data Planet
  • Statista
  • Proquest Statistical Insight
  • UC San Diego Dataverse
  • Zanran (free)


  • Quality of Government Institute (free)
  • CQ Voting & Elections Collection
  • Roper iPoll
  • OECD iLibrary
  • IMF eLibrary Data
  • World Bank World Development Indicators (free)
  • Cross-National Time Series (lab)



credit: Annelise Sklar

Data and Statistics Guide

Be sure to check out the data and statistics research guide!

The "frequently used statistics" tab will guide you to major sources for datasets and statistics, and the "find data" tab is a subject-based list of resources.

Census Data