Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research
This page explains how to find and acquire ICPSR datasets. If you're already familiar the process, then you can skip this section and jump directly to the ICPSR search page.
1. How to search for an ICPSR dataset by topic.
There are several ways to search the ICPSR dataset catalog. One very effective way to search by subject is to use their Controlled Vocabulary System.
If you use the search box on ICPSR's home page, the most important thing to remember is that it will search keywords within dataset titles and general descriptions only. Alternatively, you can try a search at the variable level through the new Social Science Variables Database. It contains a small but growing number of datasets which have been indexed on a very fine level.
2. How to download ICPSR data.
Our campus membership allows MU affiliates direct downloading from the ICPSR website. If you are off-campus and use a private internet service provider, you can download ICPSR datasets if you install Virtual Private Networking (VPN) on your machine. VPN is a service offered by DoIT. Alternatively, you can follow the Downloading from Off Campus instructions (at the bottom of the linked page.) If you have any questions, you can view the ICPSR tutorial videos. There is also a Help page.
3. How to understand the file types in ICPSR's studies.
When you view the files associated with a single study, usually you will be presented with a selection of files of differing types. Almost all studies have two essential components: a data file and a codebook file. They will be labeled as such. Some studies will have additional files such as SAS and SPSS data definition statements. These will save you time in getting the data set up in statistical software programs.