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Finding data: 1. Dataset Search

What is Dataset Search?

Dataset Search is a tool by Google that allows you to find datasets located across the web using a simple keyword search. It's easy and familiar to use, and you search across a wide range of data sources.

Any web pages that use specific structured metadata to describe datasets, such as, will be findable by Dataset Search.

Using Dataset Search

Dataset Search is straightforward to use: just type your search terms into the search box. Use some or all of the keywords that you identified when you considered what data would be useful to you to help get relevant results.

Search results appear on the left side of the page and you can click on a result to get more information about it. The information displayed will vary between results, depending on how much metadata was provided for that result. The buttons immediately underneath the dataset title take you to where the dataset is made available. Some datasets have more than one link displayed, as the same dataset has been made available through multiple locations. Note that not all datasets found using Dataset Search will be openly accessible.

There are a few options for filtering your search results, such as by date the dataset was last updated, format of the dataset, licence or usage conditions, topic, and if a dataset is freely available. Using these can help you find the datasets that will be most useful to you.

Once you find a dataset that you're interested in, make sure to assess it for relevance and quality before you start using it.

Dataset Search limitations

  • Only datasets using specific metadata will be found – Dataset Search relies on specific structured metadata included in web pages to identify datasets. If a dataset is available on a website, but the page doesn't include the metadata fields that Dataset Search is looking for, then the dataset won't be found. Alternative methods will be needed to find these datasets.
  • Limited search filter options – There is no advanced search interface to help narrow down your results. Some of the techniques used to refine regular Google searches will also work in Dataset Search, such as using the AND and OR operators, or site: to limit your search to a particular site or domain.

Library support

Get in touch with your Academic Liaison Librarian for help with searching for data and other information

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