To put it plainly: it can be a pain to find open source data. It can feel like a rather slow-going, tedious process to endlessly skim through articles and databases just trying to locate one table or data-set….
So what do you do when you want to get your hands and eyes on the data quickly?
Lucky for us, the good folks at Elsevier are working on a new tool: Elsevier Datasearch. As they explain on their FAQs page: “We are interested in exploring what a search engine for research data would look like (as opposed to a web search engine or a document search engine), and are talking with users and data providers about their needs and interests.” You can also view the FAQs page to learn more about what type of content is indexed and from which sources.
Now, let’s get some of the fine print out of the way: this tool is being actively developed, it’s in the Beta stage, so this may not be the final product. However, it is available now and Elsevier would love your feedback if you use it.
Sooo0….how does it work?
When you connect to DataSearch, you will find a familiar search engine-like interface:
Next, just as you would another search engine, input some keywords related to your research interest(s). Note that, even though the tool is created by Elsevier, content across domains and subjects is indexed here. For example, I tried searching for data related to “income disparity”:
Let’s break down the different features available on the results page (woohoo!):
- ‘Types’: This first filter allows you to refine your search by, of course, the type of data available. This is useful if you are specifically looking for raw data files, or an image to help you represent a claim, and so on.
- ‘Sources’: This filter allows you to refine by the actual data source. While you may want use this as a refinement, this filter also just provides a nice snapshot of where the majority of your results come from.
- ‘Date’: Like any good search tool, DataSearch also lets you filter results by date. This is particularly useful for researchers needing data that reflects a given time period.
In addition to those filters, there are a few other things to be aware of on the results page. First, your total number of results is listed just below the main search box. Second, the types of data associated with each record are listed just below the description. This is a helpful way to quickly see if the record will provide the data in the format you are seeking.
Now, let’s dive deeper and look at an individual record (oohs and aahs):
In this case, I chose a record which had ‘Tabular Data’ available. Once I click on the record, an expanded menu becomes available to me. From here, I can use the options on the left side of the record to look through the data (e.g.: Description, Tables 1, 2, 3, and A1).
When I select a table I am then able to view all of the associated data. I can also select to ‘Go to data source’ at the bottom of the record to learn more about the article in which this data was originally published.
**NOTE: DataSearch is still in development and is not integrated with Fielding’s library resources. If you follow the ‘Go to data source’ button, you will be redirected to the source on the open web. Remember to use your stellar search abilities to check for access within our library.**
Keep in mind:
- Each record will look a bit different depending on the types of data available
- This resource is in development so there will certainly be minor errors or glitches. Be sure to use the options to provide feedback to Elsevier so they can make improvements.