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Research Data Management

Data Collection

Data collection is the methodological process of gathering information about a specific subject. It’s crucial to ensure your data is complete during the collection phase and that it’s collected legally and ethically. If not, your analysis won’t be accurate and could have far-reaching consequences.

In general, there are three types of data:

  • First-hand data, which is collected directly from users by your organization
  • Secondary data, which is data shared by another organization about its customers (or its first-party data)
  • Third-party data, which is data that’s been aggregated and rented or sold by organizations that don’t have a connection to your company or users

Before collecting data, there are several factors you need to define:

  • The question you aim to answer
  • The data subject(s) you need to collect data from
  • The collection timeframe
  • The data collection method(s) best suited to your needs

The data collection method you select should be based on the question you want to answer, the type of data you need, your timeframe, and your budget.

Public data

When looking for data, you may also consider:

  • Are you looking for a dataset that you can use to conduct further statistical analysis with software?
  • Are you looking for existing statistical analysis or reports?

Secondary data analysis is the analysis of existing data that was collected by others. Public data is data that can be used, reused, or redistributed. Government entities at all levels (municipal, state, federal, and international) produce large amounts of public data. Typically this data is accessible without restrictions. There may be instances where terms of use must be agreed to or approval must be granted before accessing datasets, such as health or education data.

Public Data Sources

Many larger municipalities and counties host open data repositories. To find open data repositories, try searching the municipality name and open data. A few examples include:

Below are a few examples of open data from regional governments in Texas and the State of Texas.

The U.S. federal government is one of the largest data producers in the world. There are 13 federal statistical agencies all of which produce and publish data for public use. What's included below are only a few U.S. public data resources available.

Looking for data outside the U.S.? Below are collections from international NGOs and other entities. 

In addition to these data resources, many countries are adopting open data policies and publishing their data to the web. Trying searching the country's name and open data and you may find what you're looking for. Here are a few examples of international open data resources. Do note that international websites and datasets may not be published in English, but instead in the country's language.

Find, compare and share the latest OECD data: charts, maps, tables and related publications.

Data Available on Request

These organizations offer public data but require that you become credentialed users before accessing the data.