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University Library DePaul Library

Tips for Working with Data

Some useful advice for finding data for your project:

  • Use visualizations and literature searches to explore a topic. That will make it easier to find out what's interesting and what specific data you're looking for. 
  • Who would collect this data? Why? Researchers, government organizations (like Departments of Public Health), health care industry organizations, advocacy NGOs -- all of these sources might collect and publish health data for different reasons and in different formats. 
  • Always look for documentation: source information, codebooks, data ranges. The more you know about your date, the more confidently you can cite it (or find more like it). 
  • Data can come in many different formats: large raw data sets, statistical overviews, tables embedded in article publications.
  • Read scholarly literature to understand how data is generated and used and to find examples for your research study design. 
  • Ask for help: Librarians are here to help you find quality sources for your research (and we love answering your questions)!

Skills Refreshers

Citing Your Data

Just like any other sources you use in your research, you should cite the source of your data.

Citing data has many benefits:

  1. Provide transparency so others can understand where your data came from and build upon your work
  2. Give credit to the original researchers for the work that went into collecting and sharing the data
  3. Enhance discoverability of research data available for re-use

Watch this short video from ICSPR for more information.


NIH Research Day September 25, 1986 Poster (Source: National Institutes of Health/ArtStor)