McGoogan News

Search tips: searching for data sets

By Emily Glenn

Several discipline-specific resources are available to guide you through various search facets to discover relevant data. However, if you are just getting started with a topic, your search for data sets may be more fruitful if you start within a data bank. Data banks are large repositories of data sets on specific topics, funded by specific agencies, or focused on a geographic area. Data banks can contain data sets that are qualitative or quantitative, assembled through the course of research or mandatory reporting, and that may or may not be published.

Browse some of these existing data banks to locate data sets that match your research interests.

  • ( A catalog of government data from across the United States Federal Government. Over 193,100 data sets are available and can be filtered by location, format, topic, producer, and more. This is a good place to search for a topic that spans multiple agencies.
  • ICPSR ( ICSPR, an international consortium of more than 750 academic institutions and research organizations, maintains a data archive of more than 250,000 files of research in the social and behavioral sciences. The vast majority of ICPSR data holdings are public-use files with no access restrictions.
  • UNdata ( UNdata is a single entry point for United Nations data set (and replaces the UN Common Database). Data can be accessed via keyword search, hierarchical browse, or advanced search. UNdata contains official statistics produced by countries and compiled by United Nations data systems, as well as estimates and projections for agriculture, crime, education, energy, industry, labor, national accounts, population, and tourism. You can also find indicators such as Millennium Development Goals.
  • Qualitative Data Repository ( Qualitative Data Repository (QDR) is a dedicated archive for storing and sharing digital data (and accompanying documentation) generated or collected through qualitative and multi-method research in the social sciences. The repository’s emphasis is on political science.

To cast a wider net, try searching for data sets via Google. Data sets found via Google may be missing their original contextual information that would otherwise be present in a data bank.

  • Use Google Advanced Search
  • Include search terms like data or table
  • Use OR in all caps will find similar or related terms
  • Search for a particular document type (e.g. filetype:xls)
  • Search for data on a particular site or domain (e.g. site: .gov)

Exclude words by using the “-” sign in front of the word you wish to exclude

  • Sample search results: “tobacco screening” OR “tobacco cessation” filetype:xls

Now that you have located a data set, how can you tell if it is of high quality? As with other information sources, consider the completeness, accuracy, and timeliness of the data sets you are reviewing. Knowing the domain of the can help you gauge the study design and data collection methods used to gather the data and whether design and methods contributed to reliability and validity. Do the format and file type avail themselves to download and interpretation of data sets? Are all variables named and clearly described? Completeness of the data and codebook, transparency in methods, and appropriate complexity and are attributes of high-quality data sets (1). The lifecycle of the research, reporting, and interpretation should be considered when evaluating the quality of a data set.

(1)    Chen, H., Hailey, D., Wang, N., & Yu, P. (2014). A Review of Data Quality Assessment Methods for Public Health Information Systems. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11(5), 5170–5207.

Winter break hours start December 16

The library will modify it’s operating hours for Winter break. See below for the times and closure dates.

Friday, December 16 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 17 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 18 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Monday – Friday, December 19-23 7:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 24 CLOSED
Sunday, December 25 CLOSED
Monday, December 26 CLOSED
Tuesday – Friday, December 27-30 7:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 31 CLOSED
Sunday, January 1 CLOSED
Monday, January 2 CLOSED
Tuesday – Friday, January 3-6 7:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 7 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, January 8 1:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

From the archives: early obstetrical work from the rare book collection

By John Schleicher

Eucharius Rösslin (c.1470-1526), was elected as the city physician of Frankfurt on Main in 1506. He also served as physician to the city of Worms, in the service of Katherine, wife of Henry IV, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. While examining and supervising the city’s midwives, he found the prrbr-27-fall-2012actice of their trade to be careless and substandard, leading to high infant mortality rates.

To better educate midwives and improve the infant mortality rate, Rösslin wrote a book on child birth, which was published in 1513, Der swangern Frawen und Hebamme Rosegarten, which included engravings of a birth chair, the lying-in chamber, and positions of the fetus in utero.  These were some of the earliest known published images in obstetrics.  The book was written in German, instead of Latin (the scientific language of the time), so that more people would be able to read and understand it. The work was an immediate success, and it was published in English in 1540 as The Birth of Mankind.  By the mid-16th century, it had been translated into all the major European languages and had gone through many editions. Rösslin dedicated Rosegarten to his patroness the Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg.

Despite his direct observation of midwives working in the city of Worms, Rösslin incorporated obstetrical information gleaned from writers of antiquity, such as Soranus of Ephesus, a Greek physician who lived in the 1st and 2nd C.E. In the introductory prologue in verse to his text, Rösslin emphasized the importance of the role of men in reproduction, and blames midwives who “through neglect and oversight . . . destroy children far and wide.” He threatens midwives with the warning that they will be held to account for their work: “And since no midwife that I’ve asked/Could tell me anything of her task/I’m left to my medical education.”

Study Break Activities at McGoogan Library

If you need a quick break from your studies, come by the McGoogan Library of Medicine in Wittson Hall for some fun and relaxing activities starting December 10th and running through the 16th.

Postcards Home

Send your family or friends a quick message to let them know you are studying hard or have finished all your exams!  We’ll have free postcards with historic images of UNMC available near the Ask Us desk on the 6th floor for you to fill out.  Just drop them in the bin and we’ll get them sent for you.

Magic Sandbox

Get your hands sandy while building mountains and streams and playing with fish in a colorful virtual reality sandbox. Brought to you by the UNMC Makers Club.

Wellness Display

The northwest corner on the 6th floor has become the library’s new wellness and relaxation area.  Enjoy relaxing images, color at our coloring station, download some stress-reduction files or check out wellness-themed books concerning relaxation techniques, yoga, stress and more.