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Exploring DOE’s Data

by Jannean Elliott on Mon, December 15, 2014

Alternate Text PlaceholderI’ve always been a “window shopper.”  I don’t want to go in and find the store directory, follow the little map, go up the escalator and through the racks…unless the window displays tell me it will probably be worth my time.  I tend to approach databases the same way; I want to know what’s in there.  Not only do I want some reassurance that what I need is there, but I also want to see if there’s information I may not have realized I need yet.

If you can relate, then you will love the inside view the DOE Data Explorer (DDE) offers with its (what else!) Explore feature.  Choose an Explore option from the DDE homepage to check out the most recently added content, browse the titles of every dataset or data collection, see which organizations are sponsoring what data, or discover subject areas into which those data are grouped.  The Other Organizations option will show you the originating research organizations and the host websites.

Let’s check out an example.  Maybe you’re interested in astrophysics.  “Doesn’t the Department of Energy focus mainly on natural gas resources or solar power…stuff like that?” you think.  “I should probably check the NASA homepage for astrophysics data.” But first you decide to take a quick peek at the Subject Categories option, and you find “Astronomy and Astrophysics” third from the top of the list.  Selecting that category lists 30 collections of astronomy and astrophysics data described in DDE.  Now you can explore High-Energy Cosmic Ray Event Data from the Pierre Auger Cosmic Ray Observatory and lots more.

Maybe you just want to Explore dataset titles.  In addition to using this option to find a specific title you already know, you can also use it to browse.  Who knows what you’ll find?  You choose this option and randomly select “S” from the alphabet menu.  Hmmmm.  The title “Soda Lake Well Lithology Data and Geologic Cross-Sections” catches your eye and leads you not only to a ZIP file of data in spreadsheet, shapefile, and Geosoft database formats, but to a list of other datasets related to this same DOE Project Number. 

Suppose you are a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology?  You wonder if DDE guides people to anything hosted at MIT.  Select Other Organizations, zip down the alphabetical list, and, Yes!  There’s MIT listed. The collection it hosts and makes freely available to the public is ProPortal: A Database for Prochlorococcus.

You could do this for hours.  Or, you learn enough that now you feel ready to move to DDE’s Advanced Search page and begin to drill down in earnest.  Don’t forget that you can view your search results in the basic format or choose the Detail View to filter your results by data type and combinations of other data elements.  You can also increase the number of results you view from ten rows per page up to 100 per page, then export the results to an Excel spreadsheet.

To improve the discoverability of and attribution for datasets created and used in the course of research, DOE encourages the use of persistent identifiers such as Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs).  Through its membership in DataCite, OSTI assigns and registers DOIs to datasets submitted by DOE’s laboratories, data centers, researchers, and grantees.  OSTI’s Data ID Service supporting this service is described in detail on the DDE website.

The ever-expanding DDE collection of datasets and data collections reside at national laboratories, data centers, user facilities, colleges and universities, as well as at websites of professional organizations, consortiums, corporate institutions, and international organizations.  DDE records are often the “tip of the iceberg” and can lead to thousands of data files and related information.  DDE is growing steadily, but it is intended to grow faster and much larger in content in the next few years.  If you create, own, or host DOE-funded data that you’d like to see in the DOE Data Explorer, contact us at or by phone (865) 576-6784.


Image Credit:  ORNL

Page last updated on 2017-09-08 07:59

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Jannean Elliott
Manager for Harvesting, Web Services, and Data Registration


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