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Information Research Strategies: Research data

Research data

When we think of data, we usually think of statistical tables. However research data can take the form of the following kinds of information:

  • Interviews
  • Images
  • Lab notebooks, field notes, diaries
  • Survey and test responses
  • Spectra
  • Algorithms
  • Email messages
  • Methodologies and workflows
  • Procedures and Protocols

Locating research data can stimulate ideas about the kinds of data you might like to gather, as well as provide sources of information to explore and analyze for your own research.

In this module, you will:

  • Become familiar with a variety of data sources
  • Identify tools for visualizing data
  • Consider data management issues


Many data repositories are produced by the U.S. government, international governmental entities, or professional organizations. These may be freely available but often require special software programs to view and manipulate the data.


Can you answer this question?

How many towns were incorporated in Massachusetts in 1775?

Use the Historical Statistics of the United States (Millennial edition) to locate data from the U.S. Colonial period including population, economics, government, agricultural and manufacturing statistics.


Go to Historical Statistics of the United States (Millennial edition)

  • In the Table of Contents section on the left:
    • Click on the link to Governance and International Relations
  • On the right, select the chapter, Colonial Statistics
  • From the Tables list, select Migration and Labor
  • Select the table: Towns settled and incorporated in New England….

Data visualization

Data visualization is a way of analyzing, understanding and communicating the meaning of data.

At the University of Arizona, this is taught within departments such as Computer Science and The School of Information: Science, Technology and the Arts (SISTA), etc. In addition, the University Information Libraries offers data visualization resources.

The following examples highlight the possibilities for data visualization.

Publicly available data from national and international organizations that can be displayed through graphs, charts, and maps.

Provides easy access to current and historical census data and demographic information for the United States. You can create thematic and interactive maps, and customized reports.

The following guides from the NIH and North Carolina State University give an overview of tools, tutorials and other resources that exist for data visualization. Access to some of what is shown on these sites is limited to students, faculty and staff at the respective institutions, but the guides do offer tutorials and other resources that will help you learn about data visualization.

Data management

In addition to locating sources of data, analyzing and presenting data with effective data visualization methods, researchers also need to how to manage, share and preserve their own research data.

A good starting point for learning about creating a data management and sharing plan can be found in the following UA Library web pages: