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Find/Use Data: ICPSR

Learn how to find and use data from the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).

Digital Scholarship Center

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Wendy Mann
Director, Digital Scholarship Center (DiSC)
2703 Fenwick Library
Fairfax Campus
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Subjects: Data & Statistics

Use ICPSR Data

Steps for Downloading Data

  • Login to your ICPSR MyData Account.
    • Another option is to use Google, LinkedIn, or ORCID, to sign in to ICPSR.
  • Select your needed data format from the Quick Download icon.
    • If your data files are not in the format you need, see the Import Data tab.
  • Select the dataset(s) in the study that you want to download.
  • View the Terms of Use statement.
  • By downloading data from ICPSR, you are agreeing not to share the data with persons not authorized by ICPSR to receive it.
  • Download and unzip (uncompress) the file.
  • Open your software and open the data file.
  • Remember to read the documentation (codebook). It explains what the variables are and helps you to determine which variables you need.

Review the View Study Description, also known as Description & Citation for even more details about the study and its files.

Use the Browse Documentation link to decide if the study fits your information needs.

  • You don't need to login to view the documentation files. 
  • What's included in the documentation files?
    • File Manifest - Information on number of files and file sizes for a particular study.
    • Related Publications - A bibliography of published and unpublished works that are related to a specific ICPSR study.  
    • Codebook:  What is a codebook?

Once you download your dataset(s) you will need to open the files for analysis.  Using the downloaded data requires some basic knowledge of statistical analysis software and techniques.  If you need assistance, contact for help.

For many of the datasets, you will be able to download the data in SPSS, Stata, SAS or ASCII formats.

  1. Select the file format you need.
  2. Download and unzip (uncompress) the file.
  3. Open your software and open the data file.

What if you have to use setup files?

Some datasets come with a data file and a set up file. In some cases only the ASCII format is available (a generic file format).

Setup files allow you to read the ASCII data files into your statistical software package. These files contain the syntax or program code to read the ASCII data and read it into statistical software. ICPSR currently provides setup files for SAS, SPSS, and Stata.

What to do if there is no setup file?

Where Can You Use Statistical Software?

There are several locations where you have access to statistical analysis software.

Where Can You Get Help with Using ICPSR and Statistical Software?

Contact the Digital Scholarship Center (DiSC) for assistance with using ICPSR, its datasets, and opening and using them in statistical software.

Some studies in the ICPSR data archive are available for online analysis.  What does this mean?  You can perform some basic statistical analysis or cross-tabulations on your datasets.

Browse list of data that can be analyzed online

If you find the data collection you need, click the Analyze Data. Remember to login using your MyData Account.

There are two different ways to analyze data online: SDA or StatSnap.

StatSnap can do frequencies or cross-tabulations (cross-tabs).
SDA has full analysis capabilities and allows you to run frequencies or cross-tabs.