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How to Find Data

What is public data?

Public data is described as information that can be accessed freely. More specifically, public data is information that can be redistributed without any restrictions on usage. 

How to find data?

Data can be found through a myriad of sources. This dataguide will help you gain access to both free and paid sources via the Oxy library. Cater your research process through the search guides on the left! 

If you Google your topic with the term "statistics" or "data," Google is unlikely to produce results that offer you good data. However, within your results, you may find articles that cite original data sets from institutions like universities, research centers, government agencies, or non-partisan think tanks.

To increase your odds of finding useful citations, try searching for your topic and "statistics" or "data" using Google Scholar and Google News. In your results, take note of which institutions collect the data that interest you. Find those institutions on-line via Google and explore the data pages of their websites.

Getting Started with Social Science Research

  • Follow your interests. Rely on course materials, current events, policy debates, and exploration of reference sources.
  • Look for puzzles, surprises, and data that challenge common assumptions about society.
  • Map out the relationships between the concepts within your topic.
  • Search databases for literature on your topic.
  • Chart out the explanations that have been offered in the literature for the puzzle or problem that interests you.
  • Find your own approach to your topic and situate it in conversation with the literature.