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Finding research datasets

Do you need to find scientific research data for your research? 

Data created in scientific research is a valuable source of information for researchers. We are currently piloting the use of the Library's new Explore the British Library discovery service to allow users to find research datasets.

Find out more about the background of STM's work on datasets.

What are Research Datasets?

By research datasets, we mean scientific information generated by experiments, observation or computation, which forms an evidence base for the work of researchers. That information may be stored in any digital form, including text, numbers, images, video, audio, software, algorithms and models*. Examples include:

  • Sequence and structure databases
  • Image sets from satellite observations
  • Atmospheric temperature records
  • Population and species inventories

What is Explore the British Library?

Explore the British Library is the Library's new search tool, bringing together the wealth of the our content into a single search. To examine the needs of our users for finding research datasets, we are piloting the search and display of information about them in Explore. These datasets are not held by the British Library but are archived and accessed elsewhere on the internet.

For this pilot, we have selected a trial collection of datasets on the theme of environmental change, specifically:

  • observations of climate, weather, the atmosphere and oceans
  • air quality and emissions into the atmosphere
  • renewable energy
  • biodiversity

To access the Explore the British Library tool, please go to Alternatively, click on the image below to see a video demonstration of how to find datasets in Explore. Please note that prior to 18 July  2011, Explore the British Library was called Search our Catalogue. The videos below show the Search our Catalogue interface. We will update these videos as soon as possible, but general functionality remains the same.

Video instructions | Text version


Users with a Reader Pass or those who are registered Document Supply customers, can log in to Explore to tag research datasets. Tags allow you to group and find datasets of interest at a later date. Click on the image below to see how to tag dataset items in Explore the British Library (formerly Search our Catalogue).

Video instructions | Text version



Video instructions

Press the F11 key (or click on View > Full Screen) to enable your browser to display the control buttons for these videos. Then use your mouse to pause, rewind and so on.

Pressing F11 again will return your browser to its default settings.

Related content

Datasets Programme

PDF files

The links below are to Adobe PDF files. Accessibility solutions and free Reader software are available from Adobe.