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Finding data: 2. Data repositories and archives

Data repositories and archives

Data repositories and archives store datasets, and often make these datasets available for others to reuse. Data archives or repositories that are produced and maintained by reputable institutions, such as governments, the UN, or research bodies, can be great places of finding high-quality data. Some repositories will focus on data from a specific subject area or that has been produced by a specific institution – for example, many universities have repositories where data produced by their researchers is made available.

Once you know which repository or repositories to look into, you can search there directly for the data that you're interested in. Figuring out where to start your search, however, can sometimes be a bit tricky. We recommend a couple of options to help find data archives and repositories:

  • Use the Registry of Research Data Repositories to find relevant repositories
  • Use data repository and/or archive as search terms when using search engines
  • Check out the examples of general and discipline-specific data sources

re3data.org – The Registry of Research Data Repositories

re3data.org offers detailed information on over 2000 different repositories of research data. You can browse by subject or search and filter results to find data archives and repositories that are most relevant to your topic. The results in re3data.org provide a lot of information that can help you determine if a repository will be useful for you. This includes a general description of the repository, subject areas that it relates to, whether data in the repository is openly available, and whether terms of use or reuse licences are specified for datasets in the repository.

As an example, a result in re3data.org will look something like this:

 

Result page in re3data.org, indicating that icons in the upper right corner of the record provide information about the repository, and that the repository can be accessed by going tot the link in the Repository URL field.

Other resources for finding data repositories and archives exist, such as the FAIRsharing databases catalogue and the Open Access Directory's list of data repositories, but re3data.org is one of the most comprehensive and easiest to use.

Finding data repositories and archives using a search engine

Use your favourite search engine to find data archives and repositories across the internet. Now that you know the lingo, you can use the terms "data repository" and "data archive" in your search to help get you to the most relevant results. Use some or all of the keywords that you identified when you considered what data would be useful to you as search terms.

Example search
vegetation AND data AND (repository OR archive)

=> returns results that include:
    European Vegetation Archive
    NASA Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) images
    NSW BioNet Vegetation Classification data
among others.

Use operators, such as AND and OR, or advanced search interfaces to refine and filter your search. If you want advice on constructing searches, contact your Academic Liaison Librarian.