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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Finding Social Science Data: Using Article Citations to Find Data

This guide is for scholars interested in finding social science data for their research.


Oftentimes, your literature review will contain a treasure trove of data waiting to be discovered. Many research articles and dissertations will:

  1. Cite external data that they reused, and/or,
  2. Describe original data that they collected, which may or may not be available through a repository or directly from the researcher

This portion of the guide will help you mine your own literature review to find data.

Strategy One: Check Cited References

Strategy One: Check Cited References

Look for dataset citations, or citations of statistics summary reports. Often they will list the agency name, sometimes the repository name from which the data was pulled, and sometimes include a URL or DOI that you can follow to the source. Statistics summary reports will cite data sources, and often those can be retrieved from an agency website or from a repository like ICPSR. If you can't find it, ask the library for help!

TIP: Web of Science (linked below) is a good interdisciplinary article database that makes it easy to go directly to the cited references of articles.

Strategy One Example

Article: Turney, Kristin, and Daniel Schneider. "Incarceration and Household Asset Ownership." Demography 53, no. 6 (December 2016): 2075-2103. DOI: 10.1007/s13524-016-0519-1.

This article cites:

Kaeble, D; Glaze, L; Tsourtis, A; et al. Correctional Populations in the United States, 2014. Published: 2015. Publisher: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, D.C. URL:

This report cites data sources: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Annual Probation Survey, Annual Parole Survey, Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, and National Prisoner Statistics program, 2014; and U.S. Census Bureau, unpublished U.S. resident population estimates within jurisdiction on January 1, 2015. (As well as others!)

Strategy Two: Find the Researcher's Original Data

Strategy Two: Find the Researcher's Original Data

If the researcher collected original research data, check the article text (methods, data collection, or notes at the end). They may have shared this data in a public or institutional repository. If you cannot determine where data is located, contact the researcher directly to ask if it can be shared or reused.

Strategy Two Example

Article: Gavett BE, Zhao R, John SE, Bussell CA, Roberts JR, Yue C (2017) Phishing suspiciousness in older and younger adults: The role of executive functioning. PLoS ONE 12(2): e0171620. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171620

This article has a data availability statement:

Data Availability: The data file for this project is publicly available through the Open Science Framework (DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/Z4382; ARK: c7605/

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