Accessing Data and Tools

Finding data sources | Processing and analyzing data | Accessing tools and software | Resources

Finding data sources

Your research data includes anything that is collected, observed, or created for the purpose of analysis to produce original research results (as well as any accompanying documentation, code, scripts, etc.). This may include data that you create yourself as well as data created by others (e.g., census data, data created by other researchers).

Some places you can search for secondary or third-party data include:

  • Map and Data Library. The University of Toronto holds extensive data collections, including numeric and geospatial data. MDL staff can help you locate datasets both within these extensive collections and elsewhere.
  • Research data repositories. Research data repositories are online platforms that allow researchers to deposit and share data. 
  • Data availability statements. Some journals include data availability statements that provide information about how to access data associated with an article.

There are important things to consider when using data created by someone else. Make sure to:

  • Abide by the terms of access. Data created by others may have terms or agreements that outline who can access the data and under what conditions.
  • Abide by the license. Dataset creators may apply a license to their data that outlines how it can be used, any restrictions, and what can be done with derivatives. Examples of common licenses applied to data include Creative Commons and Open Data Commons.
  • Cite the data. Citing datasets you use in your research is important for research integrity. Properly referencing datasets ensures that source information is acknowledged, and credit is rightfully attributed to the data authors (go to Citing Data for more information).

Processing and analyzing data

The Map and Data Library, UTM, and UTSC  provide workshops, software tutorials, and resource guides to support data processing and analysis. Topics include: 

  • Data cleaning
  • Data visualization
  • Geographic information systems (GIS)
  • Statistical support
  • Text and data mining (TDM)
  • Qualitative data 

Accessing tools and software

The library provides access to a variety of tools and software that support data collection, processing, and analysis. For more information, visit:


Library resources

Library services
The library provides support for:

  • Finding appropriate data sources
  • Licensing data sources
  • Understanding conditions of access
  • Data analysis tools and techniques