Started in 2008, MethodBox aimed to provide a simple, easy to use environment for browsing and sharing surveys, methods and data. Variables (i.e. columns in spreadsheet/csv data) could be searched for, metadata for the variables could be viewed and the variables themselves added to your cart and downloaded. MethodBox contained an internal Web of data through users linking surveys, methods and people together. This enabled more data re-use and the linking of communities of practice.

MethodBox was a Ruby on Rails based Web application seeded with csv style datasets. Its original intention was to support health researchers involved in obesity data investigations with emphasis on datasets from the UK Data Archive. It is now opened up to the community at large and anyone can browse and find data. Registered users can add their own data and create and download data subsets.

From 2009 until July 2017 the public Methodbox instance was hosted at - a legacy instance remains available at and the source code at

  • Caroline Jay, Simon Harper, Ian Dunlop, Sam Smith, Shoaib Sufi, Carole Goble, Iain Buchan (2016): Natural Language Search Interfaces: Health Data Needs Single-Field Variable Search. Journal of Medical Internet Research 18(1):e13 doi:10.2196/jmir.4912 PMID:26769334
  • Sarah Thew, Paul Jarvis, John Ainsworth, Iain Buchan (2010): Obesity Atlas and Methodbox: Towards an Open Framework for Sharing Public Health Intelligence Workflows. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics 160 (MEDINFO 2010) pp 496-500.
  • Sean Bechhofer, Iain Buchan, David De Roure, Paolo Missier, John Ainsworth, Jiten Bhagat, Phillip Couch, Don Cruickshank, Mark Delderfield, Ian Dunlop, Matthew Gamble, Danius Michaelides, Stuart Owen, David Newman, Shoaib Sufi, Carole Goble (2013): Why Linked Data is Not Enough for Scientists. Future Generation Computer Systems 29(2), February 2013, Pages 599-611 doi:10.1016/j.future.2011.08.004 [preprint] [preprint server] [pdf]