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Research Data: Finding Data

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulder of giants” (Isaac Newton)

Re-using existing data sets is a great way of enhancing the potential scope and reach of your research project. This section shows how and where to find data sets.

Searching for data sets

Content and formats of research data sets vary widely and so does the way they are made available. The findability of data depends on the quality of metadata and documentation made available by the data producer. There is no one-stop solution for finding relevant data and the best approach differs depending on the research discipline. Approaches include: 

Finding data underpinning journal articles

More and more journal articles link to the underpinning data. Your literature review can thus be used to locate data repositories and sources relevant to your research.

Locating relevant data repositories

Re3data is a registry that lists data repositories. It does not provide search facilities for data sets but helps you to locate potentially relevant data providers in your field of study. Re3data does not list all repositories or data portals. 

Cross-search multiple data repositories

Google offers a dedicated data set search and Web of Science provides the Data Citation Index (access with your UL credentials), both letting you search for data from a multitude of sources. Please be aware that both still only list a fraction of available research data sets.

Data Citation

Data sets need to be cited in the same way as any other publication or source used (and in the same citation style). On a basic level the citation needs to include the creator, the publication year, the title, the publisher, and an identifier (link). If appropriate other information like version or resource type could be included.


Banda, Juan M., Tekumalla, Ramya, Wang, Guanyu, Yu, Jingyuan, Liu, Tuo, Ding, Yuning, … Chowell, Gerardo. (2021). A large-scale COVID-19 Twitter chatter dataset for open scientific research - an international collaboration (Version 68) [Data set]. Zenodo.

Video: Finding and citing datasets


Ireland's Open Data Portal is Irish public sector data in open, free, and reusable formats that the research community can use.

The Irish Social Science Data Archive gives access to quantitative datasets for comparative studies of the Irish economy and society.

The British Library bundles many of their digitized assets into datasets to enable research.