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SPEA V348 Management Science

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Business/SPEA Library

1315 E. Tenth Street, Room 150
Bloomington, IN 47405
Business/SPEA Library

Presentation Materials:


The following questions will assist in defining your data needs, which assists in search. 

Who or What: The population you want to study

  • People (individuals, households)
  • Things (birds, bicycles, crops)
  • Organizations or Institutions (companies, political parties, nation states)
  • Activities (arrests, healthcare spending, travel)
  • Discipline/subject-specific classifications

When: The time period of study

  • One point in time (snapshot of immediate impact)
    • Current: Keep in mind there is typically a lag time in publishing within secondary sources.
    • Historical
  • Time series (changes over time; long-term impact, trends, forecasting)
    • Unit of time: annual, quarterly, monthly

Where: Geography or place

  • Political boundaries (country, nation, state, county, school district)
  • Statistical geography (metropolitan statistical areas, tracts, block groups)
  • Organizational boundaries (parent/subsidiary, department, suppliers)


Use the following search strategies independently or in combination in order to find data.

Data Archives or Repository: Places that aggregate data or collect in a particular subject area of interest


Potential Producers: Who might collect or publish the data of interest?

GovernmentsGovernments collect data to aid in policy decisions and is the largest producer of data overall. This data is typically organized by entity or division (e.g., U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Election Commission, state of Indiana, etc.). Government data is typically free and publicly available but may require access through library resources or special requests.

Non-government Organizations: Many independent non-commercial and nonprofit organizations (e.g., International Monetary Fund, United Nations, World Health Organization) collect and publish data to do their work or support their social platform. Duke Libraries NGO database identifies many NGOs and provides contact information. Data from NGOs may be free or fee-based; the IUB Libraries subscribe to many NGO data resources, so be sure to check if we have access. 

Academy: Academic research projects funded by public and private foundations create a wealth of data (e.g., Indiana Geospatial Data Portal, American National Election Studies). Much of this type of data is free and publicly available, but may require access through library resources. Access to smaller original research projects may be dependent upon contacting individual researchers.

Private: Commercial firms (e.g., marketing firms, pollsters, trade organizations, etc.) collect and publish data as a paid service to clients or to sell broadly. This information is almost always is fee-based and may not always be available for public release. The library does subscribe to some commercial data services.


Literature: Find research studies that have done secondary analysis of data sets


Statistics > Data: Search for statistics that come from a broader data source


Carefully evaluate found data in order to determine credibility and appropriateness for purpose.

  • Does it come from an authoritative source? Do several sources need to be consulted?
  • How was the data acquired/produced?
    • Read the documentation and/or methodology for how data was collected.
  • Does it fit your needs from above (Who, When, Where) and overarching research question?
    • Look at data code book to determine unit of analysis.
  • Has the data already been manipulated (analyzed, interpreted in some way)?


This guide was adapted from the "How to Find Data & Statistics" guide produced by the Michigan State University Data Services team.