This course will become read-only in the near future. Tell us at if that is a problem.

Finding a Question

Data isn't an end in itself. We usually want data to help us answer some question or do some activity.

So your first task will be to think of some question that you'd like to answer that could be answered by getting hold of some data.


  • How many people are without clean drinking water in the world this year?
  • How much did my country spend on defence last year?
  • What is a normal weight for someone my age?

You can find more questions, and requests for specific datasets, on

For the purposes of exposition, during the rest of this course  we are going to focus on a specific example question shown below. Of course, you should focus on your own question.


Our question: How much financial support did the US government give to banks and other companies during the financial crisis of 2008-2009?

Task Discussion