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Text version: Finding datasets in Explore the British Library

Here is a step-by-step guide to finding research datasets using Explore the British Library, and the information given about those datasets. We also have a printable version with screen-captured images of each step. 

NOTE: Prior to July 14th 2011, Explore the British Library was called Search Our Catalogue. The document linked below gives instructions for the old interface, but we will be updating as soon as possible. The main text of this page gives the updated instructions for Explore the British Library.

Download printable guide to finding research datasets in Search Our Catalogue.

  1. To access Explore the British Library, go to
  2. It is not necessary to Log in in order to use Explore the British Library. Logging in, however, provides additional services.
  3. Ensure the Main Catalogue tab is selected for the search box.
  4. Type your search word or phrase in the search box, e.g. water temperature.
  5. Click on Search to carry out the search.
  6. The results list is then displayed. 
  7. Research Datasets are identified by a bar chart icon.
  8. To restrict results to Research Datasets only, click on the Research Datasets link under Material Type in the left-hand column.
  9. There are 24 results within Research Datasets that contain the words water and temperature.
  10. Click on Details under an item that is of interest to view more information on the data available.
  11. Information given includes Rights, which tell you your access rights to the data; Description, which gives information on what data is available and how to access it.
  12. Click on I want this and then Go to external research dataset to access the website where the data is held. The Library is not responsible for these external sites. We check links regularly, but if you find a broken link, please let us know by emailing