Workshop: Finding Data for Research Projects

Early in the semester we had an assignment that involved finding a data set and offering analysis. There are several ways to go about doing this including a simple internet search for “data sets for research projects” or identifying an area of interest and looking for related data. Another great option I discovered is the Graduate Center Mina Rees Library’s Finding Data portal. The following is a brief overview.

The home page of the portal offers general information along with pathways for 5 categories of data:

  1. Demography & Populations
  2. Education & Housing
  3. Labor & Economics
  4. Health & Environment
  5. Law, Politics & Conflict

There are also guides for analyzing and visualizing data and mapping data. If it all seems a bit overwhelming, a “where to start” section on the home page offers examples of local data such as NYC OpenData and Neighborhood Data Portal, national data such as American FactFinder, and international data such as UNdata. 

There are some limitations, however. I was interested in the Law, Politics & Conflict data sets, and specifically about data related to 2 areas: access to civil justice and American democracy. There were a few data sets related to criminal justice but none for civil justice which is admittedly not as widely studied, and there were no data sets for American democracy. Still, if you don’t have a specific area of interest and looking for a place to discover data sets that you can use for projects, the Mina Rees Library’s Finding Data portal is a great resource.