19 ways to find great data: tips from leading light Marianne Bouchart

Queen of data Marianne Bouchart shared her top data portals – and a few tricks – at this month’s news:rewired conference.

Bouchart is Communications Director and Data Journalism Awards Manager at the Global Editors’ Network. She founded Hei-Da.org, a not-for-profit specialising in data-driven projects and storytelling – check out their Data Journalism Blog. She also spent three years at Bloomberg as data journalism and graphics editor.

And she’s a former organiser of our favourite London schmoozer, Hacks/ Hackers!

Once you’ve found your data and told your fabulous story, you must enter it for the Data Journalism Awards 2015, urges Bouchart. Submissions open 17th December. And don’t forget who helped you find that data…

  • Dataportals.org is a comprehensive list of open data portals from around the world.
  • Data.gov.uk is the UK government’s portal, releasing open data “to help people understand how government works and how policies are made”, says Bouchart.
  • Data.gov is the US counterpart to Data.gov.uk. Note a similar government-run open portal exists in many other countries, too.
  • Open Corporates is the largest global open data base of companies. It aims to eventually list a URL for every company in the world.
  • WikiLeaks is still regularly updated and an “exceptional resource”, says Bouchart.
  • The World Bank’s portal releases free and open data about development across the world.
  • GetTheData.org lets you ask other users in their forum where to find data.
  • WhatDoTheyKnow.com aggregates FOI requests and responses, so you can check if the data you want has already been released.
  • Google search results, simply by using the following search operators:
    • Filetype:CSV and filetype:XLS for Excel spreadsheets
    • Filetype:shp for geo data
    • Filetype: MDB, filetype: SQL, filetype:DB for database extracts
    • You can even look for filetype:pdf
    • ‘inurl:downloads filetype:xls
  • Scrape data from an HTML spreadsheet into Google sheets with the formula =importHTML(“”,”table”,N)

Now clean your data!

Learn how to use Open Refine (formerly Google Refine) with this 7 minute tutorial from datadrivenjournalism.net.

Still unsure how to find a story from your new, clean dataset? From Idea to Story: Planning the Data Journalism Story will inspire you, says Bouchart.

Good luck – and see you at the Data Journalism Awards 2015!

PHOTO: Marianne Bouchart

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