Available Until 12/31/2024

But Where is My Data? Teaching a Two-Stage Data Search Process (Recording)

If you are a health, biomedical sciences, or instructional librarian or other health information professional looking for new ways to serve your patrons, learning how to conduct and explain the unique process needed for a successful dataset search may be just what you need!

Dataset searching requires a specialized skill set. Datasets can have hundreds of variables, few of which are named in an abstract. A successful search requires a two-step process: 1) search or browse for a candidate dataset; 2) search within the candidate dataset to determine whether good variables are present.

Dr. Nina Exner, an experienced research data librarian and instructor of instructors, will be your guide to learning how to conduct and explain this two-step process. After an overview of the basics of dataset searching, you’ll practice in the ICPSR NIH-related repositories or the All Of Us Data Browser. As you search, you’ll annotate a mini-slide-deck with descriptions and explanations of your process. The annotated deck gives you a head start on teaching the two-step search process and developing lesson plans around it. You can customize the deck with imagery and phrasing that resonates with your learner population.

You’ll also learn the importance of dataset documentation and how to match documentation of variables with a research question to determine whether dataset variables might fit a user’s research question.

You’ll leave the webinar with new searching skills, a new skill you can teach, the core of a lesson plan for teaching dataset search to novice data searchers, and confidence that you can help students and researchers do research involving secondary analysis of data and faculty for datasets for use in their classes.

This is a required core course for Level II of the Data Services Specialization.


Learning Outcomes

By the end of this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Define what a dataset is, what a variable is, and how and why useful variables in a dataset may differ from the goals described in the title, abstract, and keywords of the dataset
  • Explain a two-step dataset search to researchers and students and why it’s needed to identify a useful dataset
  • Conduct and annotate a two-step search suitable for demonstrating data search in a classroom setting



Health and biomedical sciences librarians and other information professionals who want to extend their instructional skills into the realm of dataset discovery and data librarians who want a teaching plan for how to explain dataset search to novice data searchers.


Nina Exner

Dr. Nina Exner is the Research Data Librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University. Nina has over twenty years of library experience, including more than ten years in scholarly communications, data support, and researcher services. She is a member of the California Digital Library DMP Tool editorial board and her scholarship ranges from practitioner research on data and the data lifecycle to more conceptual work on understanding librarians’ lives as researchers. Nina teaches and consults on data search and data reuse with graduate students in the behavioral, medical, and health professions.



Registration Information

  • Length: 1.5 hour recorded webinar
  • Technical information: After you have registered, go to My Learning in MEDLIB-ED to access the live webinar, resources, evaluation, and certificate.
  • Register, participate, and earn 1.5 MLA continuing education (CE) contact hours.

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