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Where to Find Data

Amanda on Mona edited this page Oct 29, 2018 · 3 revisions

Where should you look for reliable data?

This is a wiki -- all you need to contribute is a Github account -- so please feel free to chime in!

Know your rights

If you can't find what you need in public data, you might have to ask for it. And when you do, it helps to know your rights. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has lots of information on US laws. The Global Investigative Journalism Network maintains a list of freedom of infomration laws around the world.

If you can't find public data and the agency that keeps it won't just hand it over, you might need to turn to FOIA.

Lists of Lists

State level data


  • US Census is the first place to start. Census Reporter is perhaps a more accessible census data portal.
  • United Nations databases
  • International census data
  • General Social Survey gathers data on contemporary American society in order to monitor and explain trends and constants in attitudes, behaviors, and attributes. Some questions go back 70+ years. GSS is compiled by NORC, a research organization at University of Chicago.
  • FedStats
  • FRED collates 240,000 US and international data sets related to economic indicators. State by state employment and population, for instance.


Health Information


  • PACER provides electronic access to U.S. Federal District and Bankruptcy Courts; RECAP can give you free access to court filings that RECAP users have previously accessed.
  • TRAC keeps excellent data on US immigration courts, as well as the IRS, DEA, ATF and FBI. They maintain a great series on judicial case loads
  • I put together a great rundown of juvenile justice data sources for a project with JJIE.

Veterans Affairs

  • Center for Investigative Reporting maintains an extensive database of VA backlog data

Corporate Research, Labor Records

Immigration Resources

  • TRAC keeps excellent data on US immigration courts, backlogs, proceedings and deportations.

Weather, Disasters and the Environment

Gun Data

Spring 2013 we focused the first few weeks on data around guns and gun deaths, and came up with some great resources.

Education Data

More resources:

CUNY Journalism's Research Center publishes excellent research guides

IRE maintains an impressive collection of databases most of which are not free of charge.

The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas is offering an online course on data journalism this fall, and students there have been assembling a long list of datasets:

Google's Public Data Explorer is interesting, but you'll want to make sure you understand the provenance of any material you find there. is the home of the US Government's open data. Here you will find data, tools, and resources to conduct research, develop web and mobile applications, design data visualizations, and more.

To Do

The following are some roundups that I haven't had a chance to go through:
Sources and tools for data journalism is a nice roundup of reliable UK data sources.

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