In order for data to be useful and hence have value, people have to be able to find it, evaluate it, and use it (i.e. search, discovery, access). This cross-disciplinary examination of the state of the art of data search is a useful reference for evaluating opportunities for improvements in the search for water data. Because “(…) data are distributed across numerous repositories and platforms” (Dow et al., 2015), users first need to discover the platform, and then must invest significant time and energy becoming familiar with each search environment (Ames et al., 2012; Beran et al., 2009). Given the diversity of search interfaces, it is not surprising that water scientists desire a “Google for data” (Megler & Maier, 2012).