Workshops, seminars and presentations

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Workshop and events home page

New Google, new challenges
How to get the best out of Google and improve search results

Essential non-Google search tools for researchers
General search and specialist alternatives to Google

Free search tools for scientific information
Options for searching and viewing scientific papers and information free of charge

Social Search
When and how to use social media and professional networks as part of your search strategy

Business information resources
Key internet resources for business information concentrating on free and PAYG

Market research and statistics
Resources and search techniques for tracking down quality market research and statistics

Free government, official and legal resources
How to track down current and past papers, policy documents, legislation and official research

Finding and using open data
Tools and techniques for finding and using open data sets

Assessing the quality of information
How to separate the good from the bad and exceedingly ugly

Finding and using open data

Thousands of datasets of statistics and official information are now available free of charge for us to reuse as we wish. Many company registries have released some, if not all, of their content as open data and a large proportion of official information and legislation is free. Land registry, energy generation and crime statistics are just three examples. But everything is not what it seems.

Open data is rarely in a user friendly format and often needs “cleaning” before it can be processed into something meaningful. Websites present infographics based on the data and some repackage it and convert it into charts and graphs. But can we trust the results? How complete is the underlying data and has it been processed and harmonised? Understanding the processes involved in producing these presentations is an essential part of assessing relevance and accuracy. We also have to be prepared to manipulate the raw data ourselves as increasing amounts of information are provided free of charge but in a form that is totally user unfriendly.

This workshop looks at the good and bad of free, reprocessed, open data. It covers starting points for open data; advanced search techniques for identifying datasets; and essential tools for cleaning, manipulating and visualising the data.

The workshop covers:

  • how much and what type of information is being made available as open data
  • the impact of open data on the availability, accuracy and usability of information
  • pros and cons of open data, what can go wrong
  • how to find open datasets, advanced search techniques
  • tools for cleaning data, creating graphs, charts and visualisations

This workshop is aimed at researchers who use and need to understand how data is presented on the web, and also for those wanting to add value to open data for their users and clients. The techniques and approaches covered can be applied to all subject areas.

This workshop is usually run as a full day, hands on event with opportunities for participants to experiment and try out the techniques for themselves. It can be condensed into a half day session or a seminar concentrating on key elements. Sections of this workshop can be presented as a webinar. Please contact Karen Blakeman for further information.

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