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Global Health Research Guide: Data & Statistics

Resources in global health

Strategies for Finding Data

Use the Data & GIS Research Guide to learn more about data & GIS

Use a research guide from Penn Libraries that focuses on your discipline.

Identify an organization that studies the topic of interest and investigate their publications. In many cases this is a government agency, which may have data available for download on their website. See FedStats for a list of government agencies that collect data.

Search a data archive. Data archives are organizations that preserve research data for reuse. Some are subscription resources provided through the library; some are freely accessible.

Using a library database, find related scholarly articles and look to see what data sources the authors mention.  Find databases by subject.

Online or in the library catalog, find relevant statistics and seek out the data from which the statistics were drawn.  Try searching ProQuest Statistical Insight or Statista.  In Franklin, try searching for "your subject" AND statistics by Subject.  In Google, try for particular file types.  For example, add filetype:csv to your search terms.

Data Sets & Stats

Questions to think about

  • Who
    If you could imagine the smallest unit you'd like to analyze, would it be individual people, households, firms, or something else? What is it that you hope to draw conclusions about?
  • What
    What should the data tell you about these people or other units? How would you measure that, and what kind of categories would you create. These are the variables you need.
  • When
    Do you need data from a particular historical period? Do you need a snapshot (i.e. cross-sectional data) or changes over time (i.e. a time series)? Is the series yearly, weekly, once a decade?
  • Where
    Do you need to know about a particular place--a city, county, state, or country? Within that place, are there smaller areas you would like to compare, e.g. neighborhoods within a city?
  • Why
    Why would someone record data on this subject? If you know who would be interested, then you can infer where you might find it. For example, the Centers for Disease Control is interested in the spread of diseases, so they might be a source for health data.
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