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Conducting library research for systems projects: Home

Resources and tips for conducting effective research for systems projects

Contact Info

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Sarah Young
Hunt Library, Rm 109G

Data 101 Resource Guide

Data 101

The Data 101 Resource Guide provides an overview of library support and resources related to using, finding, visualizing and managing your data throughout the research process.

Library Workshops


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The Libraries offer many workshops, both virtual and in person, from conducting literature reviews to data visualization and management and more. Check out our list of workshops and register at the CMU Libraries workshop page

Data Office Hours

Do you have data-related questions or need help with a data project? We are here to help! 

The University Libraries offer Data Services and Research Consultations! These office hours provide in-person or virtual consultations to students, staff, faculty, and researchers in Pittsburgh. Library specialists are available to help at any point across the research data lifecycle, which includes data collecting, cleaning, structuring and integration, data management, data analysis, coding in R and Python, data sharing, and scholarly communications. Book an in-person consultation or virtual appointment!

Other useful resources

LibKey Nomad

LibKey Nomad Download PDF button

LibKey Nomad is a browser extension that facilitates access to the Libraries' full text resources as you find research on the web. LibKey Nomad provides one-click access to full text from websites like PubMed, Wikipedia and publisher pages. Install the plug-in for Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or other browsers by going to this LibKey Nomad download page and choosing Carnegie Mellon University as your institution when prompted.

About this guide

These are just a few resources that might be useful to you in your research for Heinz College systems projects. The Libraries offers hundreds of databases and other types of resources that might be useful, so feel free to contact me any time you have questions!

Finding Background Information


Information Timeline


Comparitive Cases and Benchmarking

Finding Supportive Statistics

Finding Datasets

Data and statistics are gathered and disseminated by many organizations, federal agencies, individual researchers, companies and more, often making it difficult to find just the data or statistic you need. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you embark on a search for data and statistics:

Data vs. Statistics:

While the terms data and statistics are often used interchangeably, they actually aren't the same! Data refers to the raw information that is collected and if often in the form of a spreadsheet, where each row represents one case. Statistics are summaries of data, often provided as a percentage, proportion, or average value. Do you need raw data or a summary statistic to answer your question?

Time frame and geographic scope

Think about what time frame and geography you're interested in. Do you need historical information, or information spanning several years? Or just the most current information? Do you want information at a country, state or local level?  Do you need international, non-US data or statistics?

Who collects and disseminates the data?

Think about who would likely collect the data and disseminate the data or statistics for you topic. Would this data be collected by a large federal agency in a nationwide survey? If so, which agency? Or would it be more likely collected by a non-profit organization at a local scale?

Consider different sources

There are many places to look for data. Here is a series of search strategies to try. You'll find links to many of these sources in this research guide.

  1. Data aggregators through the Libraries: These are searchable databases that bring together data and statistics from many different sources. This can be a good place to start. Examples are DataPlanet Statistical Datasets, Statista, Insider Intelligence and Roper iPoll.
  2. Data producers: If the above aggregators don't work, look for data and statistics directly from the agencies and organizations that are likely to collect and disseminate that data. You'll find some of these in the boxes below.
  3. Published literature: Researchers regularly use publicly available datasets, or their own datasets that they share, or report useful statistics in their publications. Try searching databases like those on the Finding Research and Industry News tab of this guide.
  4. Targeted internet searches: If you still haven't found what you need, try searching Google and Google Dataset Search. Add terms like 'data' or 'statistics' to your search terms. You can also add filetype:xls to limit your search to Excel files.
  5. Ask the Library! Contact Sarah Young, your liaison librarian, for more help finding data and statistics.

Visualizing Data

Managing Information

Zotero logo



Zotero is a popular free open source citation management tool that makes saving and citing online resources, including websites, YouTube videos, news articles, and scholarly database results, a breeze. Some of Zotero's strengths include its ability to capture a multitude of resource types with the click of a button, and its group library function, with no limit on group membership.  For more about Zotero, see this guide.

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