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Reproducible Data Management: Find Research Data

Information and resources for reproducible data management for the UCSF research community

Director of Data Science and Open Scholarship

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Ariel Deardorff

Narrow Down the Research Question

Before diving into your search, take a minute to think about what data you are interested in and where it might be located. Review the Library's Information Literacy guide for advice on focusing your topic.

  1. What is the topic? What are the key concepts? (ex: cervical cancer screening, infant mortality)
  2. What is the unit of analysis? (ex: older adults, families, hospitals)
  3. What region? (ex: US, Nation, San Francisco)
  4. What time period? (ex: Date limits)
  5. What variables do you need for your research?
  6. Who would have this kind of data? (ex: federal government, health department, physicians organizations, etc.)

Once I have my topic, then what?

There are many ways to find research data. You can search directly in data repositories, check out the literature to see what data other researchers are citing or try a google search. Depending on your topic one approach might work best or you might need to try all three.

Searching the Literature via PubMed

By searching PubMed you can find articles where other researchers have cited or linked to data relevant to your research topic. Here are some tips:

Searching Data Repositories

Data repositories are excellent places to search for data, especially if there is a repository for your discipline or data type. Below are some of the most common data repositories relevant to UCSF researchers.

Clinical Data

Social Science & Public Health Data

Biomedical Data

Other Places to Find Data and Data Repositories

Searching the Web via Google

Google is a great resource for finding data that is located on government websites as well as in data repositories. Here are some tips for refining your search:

  • Search with keywords. For example: ("data" and "cervical cancer screening") OR ("data repository" and "cancer")
  • Use Google search tools
    • intitle: to find page titles with specific keywords (ex: “cervical cancer screening” AND intitle:data)  
    • site: to filter to certain website domains (ex:,,
    • filetype: to filter to certain kinds of files (ex: filetype:csv for spreadsheets)


Other Options for Finding Data

If you are still not finding the data you need consider these other steps:

  • If data is collected by an organization, it's possible the data is located on their website
  • Networking! Reach out to colleagues for permission and access to datasets