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Using Alternate and Open Course Materials and Datasets: Finding Materials

Find Library-Owned Materials

Find Open Access and Open Educational Materials

Open Access vs. Open Educational Resources

Open access = freely available to access and share online
Open Educational Resources = freely available to access and share online PLUS licensing/permissions for use

In both cases, author(s)/creator(s) retain copyright.


Directory of Open Access Journals

Search the directory for open access journals and/or articles.

George Mason University OER Metafinder

Search the metafinder for open educational resources across a variety of OER-specific and other collections.

MOM iconMason OER Metafinder (MOM)
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Point to Explore the Libraries in LibreTexts and view a discipline to view course and textbook content created by other institutions of higher education.

Pressbooks Directory

Search the collection of over 2500 open textbooks and filter by subject, publisher, date of last update, number of built-in activities, and so on.

Find Open Access, Publicly Available Datasets

There is an abundance of open-access, publicly available datasets online from a variety of disciplines and including a range of data types. But the quality of data, and the quality of documentation required for meaningful reuse, varies. 

Two search strategies:

1. Find an established data repository, and search for a dataset by topic or other attributes. 

2. Find a published research article and locate the original dataset used. (Many peer-reviewed professional journals require that data must be shared with the scientific community as a condition of publication. Some journals also curate a list of recommended data repositories.)


Registry of Research Data Repositories (

A global registry of research data repositories from different academic disciplines.

A curated and annotated list of databases, with data policies and metadata standards.

Nature Journals recommended data repositories list

A curated list that includes both generalist repositories and specialized, discipline-specific repositories. The listed repositories meet the Nature Journals requirements for data access, preservation and stability.

Other data repositories

Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)

(Note: Bucknell is an ICPSR member institution. Link to Bucknell when creating your user account to access membership benefits.)

  • ICPSR maintains a searchable data archive of research in the social and behavioral sciences. It hosts specialized collections of data in education, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, terrorism, and other fields.

  • ICPSR users can examine and compare variables across studies using the Social Science Variables Database (SSVD).

  • ICPSR also provides leadership and training in data access, curation, and methods of analysis for the social science research community, including resources for teachers and students.

"Moving Beyond the Title: Evaluating The Data You Find": An ICPSR video tutorial on finding and evaluating datasets to answer a research question (July 2020).


  • Kaggle maintains a collection of publicly available datasets and data-analysis code on a range of topics, with simple metrics of data and documentation quality, for use in data science training and machine learning projects.

  • Kaggle also hosts real-life data-analysis tasks and competitions around the datasets. 

  • Users have access to a customizable Jupyter Notebooks environment.

  • A global online community around data science and machine learning, from students to experts.

U.S. government's open data

Home of U.S. government's open data:

Census data

  • Data about the American people

  • Searchable data from the Census survey (every 10 years; in progress in 2020), available in customizable summary tables and maps

  • Searchable data from the American Community Survey (yearly), available in customizable summary tables and maps

  • No individual-person level data is provided for privacy reasons, and the geographic resolution of the available summary data is set to protect data privacy as well

Economic Census data

  • Economic data about the American businesses

  • Searchable data from the Economic Census survey (every 5 years, most recently in 2017)

Examples of qualitative and text-based data repositories

Qualitative Data Repository

  • The Qualitative Data Repository (QDR) is a dedicated archive for storing and sharing digital data (and accompanying documentation) generated or collected through qualitative and multi-method research in the social sciences.

  • Provides leadership and training in—and works to develop and publicize common standards and practices for—managing, archiving, sharing, reusing, and citing qualitative data.

The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA)

  • Contains more than one billion words of text (25+ million words each year 1990-2019) from eight genres: spoken, fiction, popular magazines, newspapers, academic texts, as well as TV and movies subtitles, blogs, and other web pages.

  • Three main ways to search the corpus (including comparisons between genres and years):

    • Frequency list

    • Search by individual word

    • Search for phrases and strings

Perseus Digital Library

  • Perseus Digital Library (Perseus 4.0) is a comprehensive and constantly expanded digital library, with a mission to create and make accessible the full record of humanity, including linguistic sources, physical artifacts, and historical spaces.

  • The flagship collection covers the history, literature and culture of the Greco-Roman world, and classical Greek and Latin.

  • Other collections include Arabic, Germanic, 19th-Century American, and Renaissance materials.

Museum collections

Open Access at The Met

In 2017, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) made all images of public-domain works in its collection available under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which allows unrestricted use, sharing, and remixing. The change reflects The Met's commitment to increasing access to the collection in a digital age.

Open Access at the Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art became an Open Access institution in 2019. All the images of public-domain works in the collection are available under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, and can be used, shared, and remixed without restrictions. In addition, portions of collections information (metadata) for more than 61,000 artworks, both in the public domain and those works with copyright or other restrictions, are now available. 

Public Domain Resources

A partial list of institutions that offer public domain materials. Note: check licensing restrictions before use.