It is common practice in many fields to use existing data for secondary analysis.

You can use existing data to:

  • conduct new research
  • test hypotheses
  • replicate findings from previous studies
  • complement or extend your own data
  • provide rich enhancements such as demographic, temporal or geospatial layers
  • save time and effort in the data collection process
  • reduce the risk of survey fatigue.

The Productivity Commission report, Data Availability and Use, highlights the benefits of using existing data for research, policy, decision making and innovation.

Explore case studies that use existing data.

Learn more

Listen to Griffith researcher Dr Chris Brown discuss using existing data.

Find research datasets

Browse the guide to find datasets that may be valuable for diverse research projects.

Find research data

Explore data portals with supporting computational platforms.

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Assess external datasets

Assess any external data to identify if it meets your research requirements.

Read the metadata record of a dataset and accompanying documentation to determine its relevance, quality and validity.

Read the copyright or licence statement of the dataset to ensure it matches your requirements.

Determine if the data is relevant for your research needs:

  • read user and technical manuals to see the data collection methods
  • find out about instruments used for data collection
  • read study protocols and interview/survey questions
  • understand the characteristics of the data sample
  • find out what variables are included and how these were constructed.

Adapted from ARDC (Australian Research Data Commons) (n.d.) Data reuse [online document], ARDC, accessed 16 December 2020.

Determine the quality and validity of the data for your research needs:

  • is it from a trusted source
  • accompanied with detailed documentation from the original study
  • collection methods are appropriate and acceptable for your discipline
  • are sample characteristics,  time of collection, and response rate (if relevant) appropriate
  • collected in a consistent way
  • modified, for example, confidentialised, weighted, or treated for missing data
  • able to be properly cited to the original source.

Adapted from ARDC (Australian Research Data Commons) (n.d.) Data reuse [online document], ARDC, accessed 16 December 2020.

Determine if you are legally able to use the data:

  • read the copyright or licence statement, does it match your intended use
  • is ethics consent required
  • is written permission from the copyright owner required.

Learn more about research data copyright

Use it, cite it

Published research data is cited in the same way as other research outputs.

Find examples of how to cite and reference data using different styles.

Choose a style

Quickly and easily create a citation for datasets with a DOI .

DOI Citation Formatter

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