You may be creating and collecting entirely new data for your project, but you can often draw on a wealth of data already available to complement or enrich your own research. Given the proper attention to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and Data Protection & Ethics, you may be able to process existing raw data to create entirely new research outputs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find and access data in digital repositories and data centres?
There are a growing number of Digital Repositories and data centres with varying content types (e.g. articles, data sets, images, etc) and disciplinary foci. The majority of them share data openly with the public, or the research community.
OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories) maintains an online list of open access digital repositories, and has a content search tool (still in trial phase, as of October 2010).
Online stores of discipline or subject-specific data ('data centres') abound, but there is currently no difinitive list of these.
Some examples of popular data centres include:
What is a 'digital repository'?
A ‘digital repository’ stores, maintains, and disseminates digital materials for a given community, usually providing information online, free of charge. This often involves ensuring that information remains accessible as software and formats change. Historically, repositories have primarily housed papers and other published research outputs, but many have broadened their holdings to data and other research materials in recent years, including DSpace@Cambridge.
For more information, visit our Digital Repositories page.
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How can I find other open data sources?
You can ask your colleagues and mentors, of course, or keep an eye on relevant e-mail lists and journals, but you should also consult your local librarians early and often.
Departmental, subject, and college librarians can often point you to new information source that you hadn't previous considered.
To find your librarian(s), consult the Libraries@Cambridge directories:
How can I find data and research materials that my department already has?
Many departments and groups don't have a centralised list of what data and resource they already hold, so ask around for data of interest. Your colleagues around the department may already have data and analyses that connect with your research interests and can help enhance or shape your own projects. In most cases, they will even be willing to share.
Maybe there is even a partial record of existing data sets and other research materials through old department newsletters, etc. If there is no such record, consider starting one. For most departments, a record of existing data, methods, or other research materials held within the department would be extremely useful.
Ask your PI, mentor, or head of department, if he/she would be in favour of a simple spreadsheet or database to keep track of resources within the department.
Here is an example template to help your department start a running inventory:
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- How can I share my own data?