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Social Science Data Resources: Data Types, Quality and Citation

Guide to finding resources for research related to the social sciences.

Data Types

What is your unit of analysis?

  • Microdata – individual level 
  • Macro/Aggregated – country, region, etc.
  • Survey – one-off, longitudinal
  • Time-series – variables over time
  • Geospatial – geographical co-ordinates
  • Text—emails, tweets, articles

Data Citation

See if the dataset or database provide a citation

Citation Guides:

Data Quality


  • Complete:  how many missing values?  Sample size?
  • Documented:  Are the variables defined? Clear methodology?
  • Format:  proprietary format, software?
  • Is the format and variables consistent over time?
  • Flexibility:  can it be used with other data?


  • What is the repuation of the source? Do you know the publisher?
  • Is vendor support available? Look for documentation
  • Is this cited in top journals?
  • Is the source used by peers institutions/known researchers?