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PBHL-E711 Applied Epidemiology Methods I

Guide Contents

This guide is designed to help you find datasets and scholarly literature for Applied Epidemiology I.

Need help? Contact the health sciences librarian (see email and appointment scheduler on the left side). 

Look over the resources on each of these pages:

What to Consider When Searching for Data

Questions to ask

  1. Am I looking for raw data (with all the details and observations) or aggregated data (which has been analyzed and summarized)?
  2. Do I know who/what organization collects this type of data?
  3. Do I know what the data looks like (i.e., key features of the data)?
  4. Is my data likely to be open (freely available on web) or only be available through controlled access (access is restricted, and may involve contracts or purchases to access)?
  5. What are the desirable characteristics of data for my project? What are some obstacles? What inconsistencies exist in these types of data?
  6. What time period am I interested in (if relevant)?
  7. Where (geographically) does the data need to come from (if relevant)?

Ways to describe data

  • by research process or source – observational, interview, survey, simulation, experimental, etc.
  • by content – numeric, text, image, audio, video, instrument specific, models/algorithm, etc.
  • by file format – csv, plain text, xml, JPG, PDF, AIFF, HTML, DICOM, etc. See more at the file format Wiki page
  • by phase of processing – raw, cleaned, validated, aggregated, normalized
  • by how stable or dynamic are the data? Fixed, growing, revisable

Some considerations

  • Read the research literature on your topic of interest and identify the data used. Start with secondary analyses of data because those datasets are more likely to be accessible. 
  • Not all data are equal – think about common data challenges in your field and ones relevant to your topic or possible data source.
  • Make your own data evaluation checklist and use it on the datasets you find. The information you collect may be relevant for your analysis and reporting, especially when describing your rationale for analysis and the limitations of the study.

Applied Data Analysis in Epidemiology Textbooks

Cover image for Big Data for Epidemiology: Applied Data Analysis Using National Health Surveys