Finding Biology Data

Looking for biology data?

Projects, labs, and papers can all sometimes benefit from the use and analysis of data.  Professors may even require that you incorporate some original analysis of data in your projects.

If you are searching for biology data, I generally recommend two primary strategies:

First, you can start with a journal article.  Most primary research articles contain charts or tables of data that you can use.  And many articles now come with supplementary data – additional charts, graphs and data tables in a separate file that contribute to the article.  This is a great strategy if you are looking for data on a particular topic. Start with a search in Scopus or PubMed (from the biology subject guide) using keywords appropriate to your topic.

Second, you can start with the data.  There are biology data repositories across all fields – genetics, ecology, molecular biology, etc.  Where you look depends on what kind of data you need.  The biology subject guide details dozens of data repositories across all fields and can be a useful starting place. This is a useful strategy for those times when your professor says, “Find some data, any data.” Alternatively, you may already know that you need gene sequence data (or another specific kind of data) and there may be a data repository just for that.

Correlation doesn't imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing 'look over there'.

Courtesy, CC BY-NC 2.0

Of course, if you have trouble finding the data you need, you can talk with a reference librarian to help you search.  Stop by the service desk, send us an IM (from any library webpage) or request an appointment online.

Once you find the data, you’ll need to bring it into your favorite data analysis tool.  Stop by the library service desk to chat with one of our Tech Help students, or set up a technology consultation with our technology instructor, Steve Dresbach to help you do this.