Google Dataset Search: using the new open data search engine for research

Image from Descrier via Flickr

Google Dataset Search is the exciting new addition to Google’s suite of online research tools, designed to make searching for data online fast and simple. Whether you are looking for data to assist academic research, report-writing, fact checking, writing a story or to even to satisfy personal curiosity – Google Dataset Search is a tool that can be used for anything.

Created in September 2018, the new specialised search engine is a one-stop resource for locating open data that has been published online across all fields. Engineered to fine tune the online data research process, the repository contains millions of datasets provided by government agencies, scientific publishers, individual researchers and everyone in between.

On this new tool, Google explain that their “approach to dataset discovery makes use of schema.org and other metadata standards that can be added to pages that describe datasets. The purpose of this markup is to improve discovery of datasets from fields such as life sciences, social sciences, machine learning, civic and government data, and more.” 

Akin to academic research tools Google Scholar and Google Books, Google Dataset Search makes searching for data its own process. This cuts time spent filtering through the millions of results that arise from a broad Google search for data. Google Dataset locates files and databases from a variety of different sources according to the classification ascribed by their publishers so that researchers can make the most of the different types of data available and be more likely to find relevant information. Google does note that it will be an ongoing process to ensure as much data as possible is made accessible through this service, “[we] expect to evolve and adapt our approach as [the] best practices for dataset description emerge.”

In the last decade, the type and amount of data being published online has grown massively and continues to be a rapidly expanding area. In this data-saturated age, Open Data – that is, data made freely available to be accessed, used and shared by anyone – is an increasingly important idea and resource. The Open Data Movement is fighting for the knowledge and information that data provides to be accessible to all and not be treated as a commodity. Google Dataset Search is a resource that allows more people from a variety of backgrounds, fields and locations globally to gain access to these resources.

This type of search has long been the dream for many researchers in the open data and science communities” says Chief Data Officer at NOAA Ed Kearns in this Google blog post detailing how to use the resource.

Google Dataset Search is a great leap forward for the Open Data Movement and a game-changing resource for researchers.

Try it now.