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Finding Information: Open Data

Open Data

What is Open Data?

Open data refers to data that is freely available to the public to access, use, and share. It is typically made available in a machine-readable format, such as CSV or JSON, and can be accessed through various channels, such as APIs or data portals.

Open data can come from a variety of sources, including government agencies, non-profit organisations, and private companies.

When should I use Open Data?

Ultimately, the decision to use open data will depend on your specific goals and the context in which you are working, however, open data can be used to support research projects in many subject areas.

Where can I find Open Data? 

There are many sources of open data available online. Which one you use will depend on your area of research, however, here are a few examples:

  • Government Data Portals: Many national and local governments around the world have launched data portals where they share a wide range of data, including demographic data, economic data, environmental data, health data, and more. Some examples include in the UK and in the US.
  • Non-profit and Research Organisations: Many non-profit organisations and research institutions share open data related to their areas of focus. Examples include the World Bank Open Data, the United Nations Statistics DivisionEurostat and the Harvard Dataverse.
  • Private Companies: Some private companies share open data related to their businesses, including data on customer behaviour, sales trends, and industry benchmarks, for example Google Trends.
  • Community Data Platforms: Many communities and civic organisations have launched data platforms that provide access to local data. Search for your community or area of interest to see what you can find.

Further Reading