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Primary data are generated by researchers within a research design of their making. Secondary data are data made available to others to reuse and analyse which are generated by others. One person’s primary data can be another person’s secondary data. In seeking such data for your work, a number of approaches can be adopted.
What are your goals? Clearly define your geographical area, time period and the coverage required. Try thinking about the ways in which potential data might be gathered. For instance, by a government department, nongovernmental or intergovernmental organisation, private business or industry group, or academic researchers.
If your data need falls within the finding data themes covered by this guide, browse resource lists and interrogate thoroughly what databases and selected websites have to offer. Help pages, promotional material and even helpdesks are often available.
If your data theme is not covered, consult subject guides and the A-Z list of databases. Our team of subject liaison and site librarians always welcome enquiries and may be able to offer specialised advice.
Along with the Google Dataset Search, Data Commons is an initiative from Google to organise the world's publicly available data and make it more accessible and useful with the use of AI.
Data Citation Index is a point of access to search and assess quality research data from international data repositories across disciplines. For an overview, please view our Web of Science guide.
Our Research Data Management pages include selected data repositories (along with sections on data management, metadata and ethics) for each of the UCL faculties.
Please note due to the very high costs involved, we’re not always able to rapidly acquire new databases, but we do review subscriptions and would like to hear from UCL departments about their priorities in order to support teaching and research.
Find material which adopt a similar empirical approach or cite a specific dataset. Such content might be readily available (try the options above) or the researchers involved may be willing to assist directly. Use Explore, as part of your literature review, to search for research studies based on secondary analysis of available datasets. Material on your topic may cite relevant data providers, or volumes with statistical tables may identify sources of data.
Library Services also provides access to a wide range of bibliographic databases for finding journal articles and a range of other material. Along with subject guides, your site or subject liaison librarian will be able to advise you of relevant databases.
To find and re-use data deposited by UCL researchers, you can perform basic and advanced searches in the UCL Research Data Repository. To search across all of Figshare, enter search terms and filter on the left based on content type, date range, licence, item type, source and category. Once filter parameters have been selected, click ‘Apply filters’ to apply.
Meanwhile, UCL Profiles can help you to discover our staff and doctoral researchers. Find out about their research and teaching activities, collaborations, industry partnerships, publications and more. Search by name, keyword or discipline to identify people and their expertise.