Finding Data Sets

Contact the liaison librarian for your subject area for assistance finding data. The following websites provide some good starting points.

Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)
As a member institution, UNCW faculty, staff, and students have access to this source of over 500,000 social sciences data sets. ICPSR offers 16 specialized collections covering education, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, terrorism, and more.
This portal provides access to over 190,000 government data sets on topics such as agriculture, business, climate, consumer research, ecosystems, education, energy, finance, health, local government, manufacturing, public safety, as well as science and research.

UNC Dataverse
Share, publish, and archive your data. Find and cite data across all research fields. Hosted by the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science.

Dryad is a repository for data associated with published articles in the sciences and health disciplines.

Figshare offers data and other research outputs in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
This massive gateway for government scientific information provides access to data among other sources.

Registry of Research Data Repositories
The registry lists data repositories organized topically, by data type, and by country of origin.

Data Management Plans

Data management plans (DMP) document how research data will be collected, organized, stored and maintained. DMPs require some thought and preparation in advance, but increase the long-term utility of the data. The following outline offers guidance on some of the basic questions that a DMP should answer. 

  1. Description: What data will be collected? What are the size and format of the data? How will the data be documented to make the data more discoverable and comprehensible to you and your research partners in the future? What metadata standards will be followed? If another researcher generated the data, document the source.
  2. Storage: Where will the data be stored? How will the files be organized and named? What are the back-up procedures?
  3. Preservation: How long should the data be retained? What tools and software are required to read the data?
  4. Policies for Access, Data Sharing, and Re-use: Will others have access to the data, and if so, by whom? Will the entire data set be available or a subset? When will it be accessible? If sharing the data raises privacy or ethical concerns, what is the remediation plan? Will re-use, redistribution, or the creation of derivative works be allowed?
  5. Dissemination: Will you use UNCW's institutional repository, Seahawk DOCKS, to make the data accessible or a discipline-specific repository?
  6. Roles and Responsibilities: Who will be responsible for managing the data? Who holds the intellectual rights to the data?

These websites provide useful templates, checklists, examples, and other resources for developing a data management plan.

Metadata: Documenting Data

It is good practice to document basic information about your data so that you or your research partners can more easily interpret and re-use the data in the future. The University of Minnesota Libraries provide good advice on the basics of data documentation.

Some research fields offer metadata standards for data documentation. Adhering to one of these standards increases the findability and utility of your data in the broader research community. The Digital Curation Centre maintains a list of discipline-specific metadata standards for biology, earth sciences, physical science, social science, humanities, as well as standards that are generally applicable to research data.

Scholarly Research Services

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For more information, visit our Scholarly Research Services webpage.

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