Help on searching the Data Catalogue
The Data Catalogue contains information on over 5,000 data collections covering a wide range of social
and economic themes spanning many disciplines. Search can be used to search entire catalogue records, or
focused on specific catalogue fields. A separate Variables search
is also available.
The Data Catalogue contains a number of fields. You can search All Fields or specific fields within catalogue records.
The fields that can be selected are detailed below. Search terms can be combined by using the operators AND, NOT
or OR to include or exclude search criteria as required.
All Fields - searches all catalogue fields except access conditions and variables
Title - searches all areas of title - main title, sub-title, alternative title and series
Subject - searches Subject Category, Abstract, Main Topics and Keywords
Keyword - searches only the keywords (selected from the UK Data Archive thesaurus,
Geography - searches Geography, Country, and Location of units of observation,
i.e. National, Subnational or Cross-national
Data Creator/Funder - searches the names and affiliations of the Depositor,
Principal Investigator, Data Collector, Original Data Producer and Sponsor/Funder
Methodology - searches Time Dimensions, Sampling Procedures and Method of
Publications - searches the publications and reports resulting from
primary and secondary analysis
UKDA Study Number - searches UK Data Archive study numbers
The following search options are also available:
Year - searches for data covering a specific year or range of years
Service - search the whole catalogue or limit your search to a specific service
Sort by relevance - sorts your results according to the frequency of the search terms in a catalogue record. This is the default option
Sort by date - lists your results based on information in the Data of Coverage field with the most recent data collections listed first
Show only major studies - limits a search to the most frequently used data collections
Multiple search terms can be entered within one field and combined by using the Any, All or Exact buttons.
Use wildcard/truncation searches to substitute ? for a character within a word, or * to the end of a word. For
example, wom?n will search for woman and women, or child* to search for children and childminder.
After entering your search terms click Search to begin the search process. When your
Results are returned, the number of hits will be displayed at the top
of the list. Where data are part of a survey series, use Group by Series
to arrange your search results into data series, where possible.
An All Fields search will search the whole catalogue record with the exception of the access conditions field and variables.
The Documentation, Keywords, Publications and Related Studies sections are also included in an All Fields search.
A Title search will search all parts of the title, i.e. main title, sub-title, alternative title and series title.
A wildcard/truncation search is recommended if the full title is not known.
Note: A truncation search will not work when the Exact button is checked.
Select Subject search to locate datasets whose subject coverage reflects your area of interest, e.g. health care, social networks,
voting behaviour. The studies located may be wholly about the subject area or have variables/questions of interest.
This search option actually searches serveral areas of the catalogue record: the subject category, abstract, main topics and subject keyword list.
This provides a broad search, and will retrieve data collections containing the search term(s) anywhere within these fields.
One or more subject categories, selected from the UK Data Archive's list of subject categories, are assigned to each dataset to reflect
the overall subject scope of the data collection. There are 20 main thematic headings which are often further divided into
subheadings. The full list can be viewed on the
Browse by subject page.
Abstract and Main Topics
Summary information describing the aims, purpose and background of the data collections. Also included are key themes
and topics covered by the variables/questions in the data.
Each catalogue record contains a list of subject Keywords covering all topics included in the data collection.
The keywords are taken from a controlled vocabulary list held in the UK Data Archive thesaurus,
HASSET. Further information about using HASSET is available from
The Keyword search performs a free-text search on the keywords assigned to each data collection. More than one term can be entered
into the search box and the Any, All or Exact buttons used. Alternatively, terms can be entered into more than one
search box and combined with the AND, NOT or OR operators.
enter crime in the search box and check the Any box - this will produce a list of datasets with keywords containing
the word crime; it will also include such things as crime victims and fear of crime
enter fear of crime in the search box and check the Exact box to locate datasets which have been assigned
the keyword fear of crime
If no studies are retrieved, i.e. your search term does not match or partially match a keyword, or if help is required choosing
appropriate keywords, then the HASSET thesaurus is available
either to consult for suggested terms or to use as a stand-alone search tool.
See HASSET help for further information.
A search using Geography can be used to locate data collections that cover a particular geographic coverage: country,
county, region, city/town or village. The catalogue fields searched are Geography, Country, and Location of units of observation.
Two or more geographic areas can be combined within one search box using the Any or All buttons, or by combining searches
using the AND, NOT or OR operators.
Data at national or subnational level, or covering more than one country, can also be located.
a search for Scotland will return any studies with a geographic coverage of Scotland at a national level,
as well as data that covers only parts of Scotland (subnational)
to find data on Scotland at a national level, search Scotland and national using the AND operator
to find subnational level data search on Scotland and subnational using the AND operator
data covering more than one country may be retrieved by searching on the term cross-national
to locate global or world data use the search term multi-nation
when searching for international macro time series data search for the country name, e.g. Argentina, rather than region,
e.g. Latin America
Geographic terms can also be viewed in the HASSET
thesaurus and can
be used in either a Geography
or a Keyword
This search is performed on all individuals or organisations associated with the creation of the data collection:
e.g. Depositor, Principal Investigator, Data Collector, Original Producer, Sponsor/Funder.
Searching on a personal name
Names usually appear in the catalogue record in the format: surname followed by initial(s), e.g. Crewe, I.
rather than I. Crewe or Ivor Crewe. However as some initials will be classed as 'skip' words and therefore
ignored by search, it is strongly recommended that you only search for surnames.
Searching for an organisation
Names of organisations are entered into the catalogue record in full e.g. Office for National Statistics
rather than as an acronym e.g. ONS. However, acronyms may be found in some instances. You are therefore
advised to search for both the full name and the abbreviation by using a combined search using OR and
checking the Exact buttons.
Selecting Methodology will search the catalogue fields: Time Dimensions, Sampling Procedures and Method
of Data Collection. These fields are populated from controlled vocabulary lists, i.e. they use standard terminology
to ensure consistency. The terms available for these catalogue fields can be found in
the Glossary of terms.
Select Publications to search the publications and reports resulting from the primary or secondary analysis of the
data collection that are listed as part of the study description. It is also possible to search for author (surname only),
publication title and publisher.
Used to search for data covering a specific year or range of years. The catalogue fields searched are Time period and Date of Collection.
Entering a year into the first box will locate all studies covering the year specified and also those with a date span
which includes the year entered. For example, a search for 2007 will return studies with the
following dates: 2007, 1995-2007, 2001-2008, 2007-2008, etc.
Enter the start year in the first box and the end year in the second box to locate studies that both cover, and span
the range of years entered. For example, a search for 1990-2001 will return studies for 1990, 1991,...etc,
1980-1999, 1990-2008, 1989-2001, etc.
Select All Data Catalogue to search the whole catalogue, or one of the options below to restrict your search to a subset of
All data collections supported by the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS)
Large-scale government surveys such as the Labour Force Survey and the General Lifestyle Survey
Multi-nation aggregate databanks such as World Bank data, and cross-national survey
data such as the Eurobarometers
Major UK longitudinal surveys following individuals over time, such as the National Child
Development Study and the British Household Panel Survey
A range of mutlimedia qualitative data sources
History Data Service
Data supported by the History Data Service (HDS). These are data which result from, or support,
historical research typically covering the period up to 1945
UK census data supported by the ESRC Census Programme data support units
Rural Economy and Land Use research projects
Secure Data Service data collections
The number of hits found is displayed at the top of the results list. There is no limit to the maximum number of hits retrieved,
however where a search results in 100 or more hits, only the first 100 are displayed with the option to Display All if required.
Group by Series
The search results are displayed as a list of all data collections which match the search criteria. Only the first hundred
are displayed by default with an option to Display All if required. Sometimes the full list can consist of several hundred
data collections including many that are part of a series, e.g. the Quarterly Labour Force Survey.
Group by Series will bring together all of the individual datasets from a series (which have matched the search criteria)
and group them under one entry. This creates a shorter list which is easier to browse. Each grouped series can be expanded using the + sign.
Browse by subject
One or more subject categories, selected from the UK Data Archive's list of subject categories, are assigned to each
data collection. There are 20
thematic headings which are often further divided into subheadings.
One or more subcategories can be selected, but it is not possible to select from more than one subject group.
Titles are returned in date order - most recent first.
A Variables search is performed on all variable labels and value labels
within a data collection. It is available for the most popular datasets in the Data Catalogue, or those datasets deposited in a suitable format.
Currently this is approximately one third of our holdings, including major series such as the Quarterly Labour Force Survey,
the Living Costs and Food Survey, and the British Household Panel Survey.
International aggregate (macro) datasets are not included in a variables search. Neither are the 'virtual' international micro
series such as the Eurobarometers where the data are held elsewhere.
Use the any search words/all search words options as required. Double quotes can be used to search for exact terms/phrases.
For example, enter "National Health Service" to search for variables containing this exact phrase. Variable/value labels
may contain acronyms and abbreviations.
The results are displayed by dataset title, each of which may contain many variables relevant to the search term(s).
Individual variables can be viewed by clicking on the Variables in SN xxxx link.
The default is for results to be ordered by relevance. This can be changed by clicking the Sort by date option and
the results will then be ordered by date with the most recent first.
Select a variable from the list to view further details about that variable, including the value labels, and a link to the
Full list of variables for that data collection.
Unweighted frequencies and Percentages will be displayed alongside the value labels for datasets processed since October 2005.
Where a dataset does have frequencies some may be missing for one of the following reasons:
for continuous variables no frequencies will be displayed
due to invalid cases some frequencies may be displayed that will not add up to 100 per cent
The frequencies displayed are unweighted and users should consult the associated documentation for information on how to weight
the data correctly.
For datasets displaying the Explore Online Nesstar link it is possible to view unweighted frequencies, and to produce weighted
frequencies and simple cross-tabulations online using Nesstar.
The thesaurus-aided search using the Humanities and Social Science Electronic Thesaurus
- HASSET allows a more precise search than the Keyword search.
Entering a search term (consisting of one or more words) into the HASSET interface will result in either a match with the word in the thesaurus
or, if there is no exact match, a listing of partial matches.
A matched term will automatically be displayed in its position in the thesaural structure showing its relationship to other terms.
From here Broader, Narrower, or Related terms may be selected to refine or extend your search. If there is only a partial match then
selecting a term from the resulting list will display the thesaurus view for that term.
Once an appropriate keyword has been found in the thesaurus, the Data Catalogue can be searched by clicking the Search on Keyword button.
This will retrieve datasets which contain the keyword.
To search the catalogue for one or more terms simultaneously, check the boxes to include Narrower terms and/or Related terms
before clicking Search on Keyword.