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Public Sector Data
Transcript of Public Sector Data
Searching beyond the Surface Web.
Getting the most out of Google.
An introduction to finding the resources you need.
Making friends with your library.
Using existing research to find leads.
Copyright and referencing.
What am I looking for?
Why am I looking for it?
what am I trying to produce?
is the data for me or for someone else?
am I looking for a broad overview?
do I need something very specific?
Where shall I start looking for it?
what agencies might have oversight?
who else might use the same data?
is it something a statistical agency might hold?
do I know that it exists?
is it old enough to have been stored in historical archives?
who might know more about researching the topic?
-"not this phrase"
"this is * a word"
"this is * * words"
(intitle:resume OR inurl:resume) (Java AND Agile) (developer OR programmer OR engineer) (Missouri OR MO) -jobs -job
narrow it down:
Learn more about how Google works:
'Search Tools' button
Public Data Explorer
Other specialist search websites and metasearch websites
List of academic
databases & search engines (Wikipedia)
Ever searched for 'site:gov.au database' ?
Let other people do the work!
The National Library of Australia
online sign up
metasearch of Australian State libraries
books and ebooks
photographs and video
diaries and letters
Your State Library
Why sign up?
Depth and breadth of resources
Information you won't find anywhere else
Free ebooks and journal articles
Historical public sector and consultant reports
Beyond the bookshelves.
Items in the stacks
Microfiche and microfilm records not yet digitised
Maps not yet digitised
In praise of browsing, online and offline:
research by proximity.
Bibliographies in (vaguely) related journal articles and books
Sources mentioned in newspaper articles
Citations on Wikipedia
References in PhDs and Masters theses in university libraries
Choosing the right approach.
what do I think I need?
what is the clearest way to describe what I need?
explain your objective rather than making a data request
if they can't help, can they introduce me to someone who can?
meeting in person yields better results
treat people like expert sources of advice, not gatekeepers (even when they are)
Finding the right person.
authority to provide data
willingness to provide data
access to data
an understanding of what you're asking for
do your homework
Getting in contact with the people in charge.
cold calling and cold emailing
asking for introductions
More generally, maintain your networks.
social and professional events
have coffee with interesting people
ask for introductions
offer help with other people's projects
practical mailing lists
ask for help
Is it good enough to use?
Can I improve or recalculate it?
Do I need to advise my audience about any limitations?
Try online tools.
OpenRefine (formerly Google Refine)
GoogleDocs (or Adobe) OCR
Data format converters
Online tutorials and advice
Excel's own functions
Plug-ins and macros available online
No need to code to use the macro recorder to automate repetitive tasks
Even if you're totally new to programming, you can learn online, and languages like R and Python are great for getting your datasets into shape. (Or, make a coder friend - events like GovHack are great places to make coder friends.)
Give up and do it by hand. (Really.)
Try Google's free courses:
and their presenter's blog, SearchReSearch:
might an international organisation have collected it?
Australian Government websites.
Federal and State lists of department and agency websites
For example: http://australia.gov.au/directories/australian-government-directories/list-of-departments-and-agencies
Blogs worth reading.
Learn and network.
Finding more tools.
A few of the best.
Other Australian resources.
This workshop provides an introduction to finding public sector data (and data useful to Australian public servants).
Any questions, or tips and tricks to share?
You can find this slide deck here:
All the links in the presentation are also in a bundle here:
CIA World Factbook
Information is Beautiful
The Guardian Datablog
The Governance Lab @ NYU
Open Knowledge Foundation Blog
Hacks and workshops, like GovHack and HealthHack:
Organisations like Open Knowledge Foundation Australia
Interest groups on networks like http://meetup.com
Open Data Handbook:
Data Journalism Handbook:
Open Metadata Handbook:
search: data visualisation tools beginners
search: free online data conversion
search: [topic] 101 tutorial
search: getting started with [topic]
search: free [topic] lessons videos
Tools and resources come and go, but there are always plenty out there to find.
(Australian Governments Open Access and Licensing Framework)
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare:
Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences:
Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics:
Australian Ocean Data Network:
Data and Open Government on Social Media
Sites like Quandl (numerical data), datacatalogs.org, and datahub.io - metasearches, databases of databases, and lists of lists.
Specialised software (like Beautiful Soup), that can help you extract data or do another specific job.
Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research: