How to search the data catalogue

Short tutorial to search data: How to use the UK Data Service catalogue search tool.

The data catalogue search box can be found on the Homepage, Find data and Browse data pages. It is the box with the magnifying glass search icon. Or you can go directly to the data catalogue.

Data by theme

Some of the major studies and datasets are grouped together by theme such as health, age, economics and most recently the impact of COVID-19 on households and communities.

You can browse our data by theme pages within the main website for links to some of the key datasets useful for specific themes.

Using the data catalogue filters

You can search data studies or series by using various filters (or facets) on the left side of the data catalogue pages:

  • Date from and Date to – Refine dates from and to, if you want to narrow your search.
  • Topic – The overall subject areas of a study or series. The filter only contains a limited set of high-level Topics. For example, searching for ‘energy prices’ and filtering on the Topic ‘Health’ reduces the list of results and displays only those studies about energy prices in the Topic area ‘Health’.
  • Data type – These include cohort and longitudinal studies, UK survey data, business micro data and Census data.
  • Access – The type of data access permitted by data providers can also be used to help filter results: Safeguarded, Open or Controlled data. Understand our access conditions
  • Country – Refine the country or countries you want to research.
  • Reset filters – Start the search again.

General advice

  • Use the search box in the data catalogue to look for studies or series on a particular subject, or the study number or the name of the principal investigator(s) if you know it.
  • Your search query is treated both as a free-text search, i.e. it will match occurrences of that search string in the most relevant metadata fields in the catalogue records, and as a Keyword search, which will match Keywords found in the corresponding Keyword metadata field in the catalogue records.
  • Keywords are subject terms drawn from the UK Data Archive’s Humanities and Social Science Electronic Thesaurus (HASSET) which have been used to index each study at concept or variable level, and which represent the concepts covered by that study.
  • Keyword matches are shown in search results prefixed by ‘Keyword’ (e.g. Keyword:POVERTY). If you know the name of the Keyword you are looking for, you can type it into the search box directly by typing “Keyword:” followed by the Keyword in question in capital letters, for example Keyword:POVERTY.
  • Note that a Keyword search on a term is likely to produce a more nuanced result than a free-text search, since keywords are created specifically to describe a dataset.
  • Free-text searches (as the name implies) cover all text regardless of the context. For example, the free-text search ‘bills’ finds data on financial and legal bills, while Keyword:BILLS finds only data on legal bills.

For more information about how to formulate search queries, consult the Page guides in the data catalogue.

The Humanities and Social Science Electronic Thesaurus (HASSET)

Search using HASSET to find keywords to narrow the search, or broader or related keywords to widen your search. You can also find alternative or entry terms which are predominantly synonyms.

Find out more about using HASSET to search for data