Welcome to Mozilla Science Lab's Open Data Primers!


Things to Consider...

While searching for data:

  • Think about who the stakeholders in this type of data might be. They are good starting points for figuring out where to look for data. As mentioned before, these can be governments, NGOs, or private entities.

  • If you are searching a database that allows for keyword searching, use the same searching skills you would use for a literature search. For example:

    • Think of alternate keywords you could use.
    • Use terms such as “AND” and “OR” to help narrow or broaden the scope of your search based on how many results you are getting.
  • When corresponding with data producers, be professional and courteous. Remember that you’re asking a human to take time to help you. Although we value data sharing and transparency, research culture does not always support individual researchers in this endeavor, leading to some researchers to treat data users with skepticism, and sometimes even suspicion. Be an open data ambassador and diplomat by being transparent and communicative.

After you find the data:

  • When using data that’s been produced by others, it’s often a good idea to contact the data creators. Even the best metadata can sometimes miss a bit of nuance. That said, if the authors took the time to prepare detailed metadata, be sure to read it thoroughly so you can ask the right questions!

  • Make sure to give credit where credit is due. This means citing data appropriately when you publish work using it. This is an important step towards helping researchers who are primarily data producers to get credit and recognition for the work they do- and helps create a positive sharing culture that benefits the data users as well!

  • Pay attention to licences! If you’re compiling data from multiple sources, there are rules you have to follow when you share any derived datasets. We’ll cover this in Primer 5: Other People’s Data.