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ICPSR Research Guide

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

ICPSR Basics

What is in the ICPSR?

  • Large data sets.
  • Publications resulting from those data sets.

Logging in:

  • You must create an account to use data.
  • FB/Google logins use the password from those accounts.

What’s in a download?

  • Documentation files as pdfs. These include the original questionnaire if there is one, the codebook, and a description of the study and citation.
  • Data in many forms – SPSS, SAS, Stata, ACSII, or R
  • Downloads come as zipped files delivered to a desktop or thumb drive with all of these files included.

Viewing and downloading data

  • All library computers and Social Science lab computers have SPSS software on them.
  • You can use this software to analyze your data sets.
  • Alternately, you can do some online analysis without these programs, though you will be restricted to certain studies.
  • To find online data click on studies for which online data is available.

Searching for data

  • Click on the “Find Data” link at the top of the page.
  • You can find data in a number of ways:
    • By keyword (“teen smoking”)
    • By topic (a browse feature)
    • By series (if you are interested in longitudinal data)
    • By Geography (if you are interested in Montana-specific data)
    • By Thematic Collection (for data grouped by broad disciplinary themes)
    • By Global Data (for data about or collected in other countries)
  • You can search for data that can be viewed online.
  • You can also search for replication datasets if you’re interested in replicating someone’s study.
  • Searches can be narrowed down by using the filters on the left hand side of the screen.
  • Some data is restricted! For questions, see ICPSR’s page on restricted datasets.

Study Homepages

  • The study homepage is like a webpage for that study.
  • Let’s look at a sample search for “Monitoring the Future”
  • What is on this page?:
    • Alternative titles.
    • Principle investigators
    • A summary
    • Whether it is part of a series
    • Access Notes
    • Datasets
    • Codebooks (which describe the content, structure and layout of the data collection)
    • Citation information
    • Funding information
    • Scope of the study
    • Methodology
    • Other versions
    • Related Publications
    • Variables

Related Publications

  • These are the publications that ICPSR knows about that are connected to datasets in the archive.
  • You can access them in full text by following the links.
  • Anything not available as full text can be accessed through an Interlibrary Loan request.

Searching and Comparing Variables

  • A variable is a question and an answer from a survey.
  • Click on variables for “Monitoring the Future” to see the complete list.
  • You can then choose to compare variables side-by-side.
  • You can also choose to compare variables from different studies side-by-side.
    • As an example: do a search for “marital status”
    • Click on “variables” tab
    • Compare studies #18 and #28 for differences in types of questions