Finding Data in the Library's Resources
LIB SOUTH 2037O
Different Types of Scholarly Work
Quantitative VS Qualitative Research
Determining the Type of an Article
Tips for Finding Data in Regular Databases
Getting Data Outside of the Library
Links to Data Sources on the web
Although there are many peer reviewed articles, scholarly books, and other quality resources available via the library and its web site, not all of those resources are useful for all research purposes.
Sometimes, your professor will ask you to find data for use in an assignment. This can be a daunting task, and one that this guide hopes to address.
Not all types of scholarly work have the same goal. Some authors are trying to explore existing research, or to debate recently published research from other authors. There are also articles where the authors apply existing research to different situations. Of course, these are not all the different reasons for publishing scholarly work, but such a list is beyond the scope of this guide.
Here is a list of the types of scholarly work you are likely to see mentioned in your course work:
- Literature Review – In this type of scholarly work, the authors discuss existing published works on their topic or in their field. These types of articles sometimes end with the authors’ suggestions for further research.
- Annotated Bibliography – Similar to a literature review, this type of work involves reading existing published works on a particular topic and summarizing them. Annotated bibliographies are often a preliminary step to somebody who is creating a literature review. For your schoolwork, professors will often ask you to discuss how good you think the article is in addition to summarizing it.
- Case Study – In a case study, the authors are investigating one specific example of something and using that case to provide guidance to others in similar situations.
- Research – In this type
of work, authors are performing their own research, not discussing the work of
others. Research is split into several
- Quantitative Research – This type of research aims to get quantiative results (that is, results which can be expressed mathematically). Quantitative articles are often aimed at generating the raw data needed for further research into something. (the What, Where, How, Who of research)
- Qualitative Research – Qualitative articles focus more on the Why of research. This type of article is not concerned as much with the raw data in a situation, but the reasons for that data being the way it is.
- Mixed Methods – This research mixes Quantitative and Qualitative Research.
If you need data for an assignment, you will be trying to find Research articles. Literature Reviews are not appropriate for this purpose, as they contain no original research.
Although any type of research is useful, Quantitative Research articles are often the best kind to use when you are trying to find data. This is because they contain larger sample sizes than Qualitative Research, due to the natures of the two types of research. Sometimes, your professor will specify whether or not you need to find Quantitative Research or if any kind is acceptable.
Mixed Methods research is also useful, as it contains both Quantitative and Qualitative aspects.
When you look for resources at the library, there are a few things you can do to check whether it’s a research article or not.
- Look for numbers or charts - Research articles often have lots of charts in them, or discussion of their results. Literature reviews and other types of article usually do not have charts in them.
- Methodology Section - This is one section that you will usually only see in research articles. It describes the way in which the research was carried out (e.g. a survey of two hundred nurses)
- Data Analysis - Another section that’s usually only in research articles. This section analyzes the data reported previously in the article, providing the authors’ insight into possible reasons for the reason the data was the way it is.
Note that these indicators are not 100% accurate, and if you are in doubt you should read the article to see if it is presenting original research. If you are still not sure, check with a librarian or your professor.
Try adding one of these words to your search as a keyword or full-text search:
Note that adding a keyword to your search will not necessarily find all research articles on that topic. Additionally, all of these keywords might be used in non-research articles, so not all articles that are returned by such a search will necessarily contain data. For instance, a literature review might contain the phrase “If we analyze Smith’s stance on Second Amendment Rights, we see that…” In this case, even though the word “analyze” is in the article, it is not original research.
Unfortunately, there is no shortcut method to find just research articles in a database. The only foolproof way is to find articles on your topic and read through them to make sure they are discussing original research and that they do contain data in them.
If you are looking for data in a specific field, the library has several data-only databases. These do not contain journal articles, just the raw data (usually). If you are off-campus, you may be prompted to log in with your last name and student ID number.
Factiva - Click "Companies/Markets" for statistical information on companies and the stock market.
Mergent - Annual and Company reports from a number of companies.
Snapshots - View information about various types of companies. (use the browse button)
CIA World FactBook - Contains statistical information on various aspects of countries around the world, including birth and death rates, literacy rates, ages and gender divides, etc.
IPOLL - Center for Opinion Research - Contains questions and their answers from various opinion polls. Source of the research is included, and its year.
When academic authors generate data for their own research, they do not get this data from existing articles. This is because existing articles often drew their own conclusions from the data generated, and because the scenario for two different articles is not often similar enough to use the same data. If you are doing research outside of the classroom, or if you cannot find enough relevant data in existing research articles, there are many ways you can get data on your own.
Note that most of these methods require significant planning and time to use successfully.
- Survey – Create a survey and give it to a sample of people (random or otherwise)
- Observation – Set up a scenario and observe how people react to it
- The U.S. Census – Can be used for some forms of sociological research, but takes a good bit of getting used to. It is available online.at http://census.gov
- Sociology Data Sources from the American Sociological Association.
- Inter-university Center for Political and Social Research home page
- International Archive of Education Data home page
- National Archive of Criminal Justice Data home page
- National Center for Education Statistics home page
- National Center for Health Statistic from the CDC
- National Centre for Social Research (UK data only)
- Uniform Crime Reports from the FBI
Check out these short (3-4 page) articles on how to use data in a research paper.
- Statistics for the non-statistician. I: Different types of data need different statistical tests - Trisha Greenhalgh
- Statistics for the non-statistician. II: "Significant" relations and their pitfalls – Trisha Greenhalgh