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ICPSR Research Guide: ICPRS FAQs

Learn more about the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Science Research!

Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Science Research (ICPSR)

What is ICPSR?

ICPSR, established in 1962, is the world's largest archive of digital social science data.  The consortium acquires, preserves, and distributes original research data and provides training.  Users can search the data or contribute to the archive by depositing their own computer-readable data.

ICPSR provides raw numeric data from surveys, census and administrative records that can be used to conduct statistical analyses and create reports and figures.  Data holdings include information on population, economics, education, health, social and political behavior, social and political attitudes, history, crime, aging, substance abuse and more.

How do I begin using ICPSR?

You can browse the data summaries without logging in, but to analyze or download the numeric data you must set up an account while on campus.  You will then have access from any location for six months, at which point you must re-authenticate from campus.

What is in an ICPSR dataset?

In addition to the numeric data, each dataset provides a description of the research involved in collection of the data (i.e., bibliographic citation, study scope, methodology).  Each dataset also provides a link to related literature—a bibliography of publications based on the dataset.

How do you pull datasets?

Once you locate a dataset that you want, you can either use ICPSR’s online data analysis system or download the data files from ICPSR to analyze them with software such as SPSS on your own computer.  The Quick Download link will retrieve the data.  In many cases it is also possible to download select files.

Use of the online analysis system requires basic statistical skills; running your own analysis requires more advanced skills.

What then?

Once you download a dataset, you will need statistical software to analyze it.

Other resources

ICPSR Help/User Support