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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

How to Find Data : Introduction

About this guide

Wordcloud with the words data, library, keyword, datasets, research, and more.

This guide highlights resources that researchers can use to search for data, along with suggesting search strategies. Each tab in this LibGuide focuses on the process of searching for data in different resources. 

Data in the Library Catalog

This section explains multiple ways to find data sources in the library catalog. These sources could be physical items or available online. 

Easy Search

This section looks specifically at the Easy Search bar on the library's homepage; this search bar will return a wide variety of sources. Some may be available through the UIUC library, while others may be freely available online. 


This section addresses the library's A-Z Database list, with special attention to the specific data and statistics databases.

Other LibGuides

Compiled here are a list of useful LibGuides from UIUC libraries. These may be helpful if you are looking for a specific type of data, as these LibGuides are focused on data in specific subjects.


This section includes links to various open-access data repositories which can give you access to even more data sources. 

Questions to ask when searching for data

When starting your research process, it is important to have your purpose in mind. Before you start searching, have a good idea of what you are looking for and would like to find. Here are some questions to think about as you search for data resources: 

  • Am I looking for raw data (with all the details and observations) or aggregated data (which has been analyzed and summarized)?
  • What time period am I interested in (if relevant)?
  • Where (geographically) does the data need to come from (if relevant)?
  • Who might produce this data?

Thinking about these questions before and during your search process will help you decide where and how to search. 

Other resources

Scholarly Commons

The Scholarly Commons can assist with finding data, as well as helping you find tools to analyze it.

Research Data Service

The Library's Research Data Service can help you manage your own data or work with data.

Subject Specialists

This list includes all of the subject specialist librarians. If you have questions about data within a specific discipline, a subject specialist would be a good resource for you. Browse the list to find your discipline and then set up an appointment with them. 

Contact Us

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Creative Commons License

Except where otherwise indicated, original content in this guide is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 license. You are free to share, adopt, or adapt the materials. We encourage broad adoption of these materials for teaching and other professional development purposes, and invite you to customize them for your own needs.