Data Sets for Quantitative Research
Data Sets for Quantitative Research
Machine-readable data for use in quantitative research
The Data Services unit at MU Libraries offers reference assistance to MU faculty, staff and students in the acquisition of datasets for use in teaching and original research. Through our affiliation with the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research (see tabs above), MU faculty, staff and students may download any of thousands of datasets on a wide variety of topics. We also help researchers access the growing collection of PUBLIC USE DATASETS on the internet.
MU faculty from a variety of departments are engaged in research using data downloaded from archives. We invite you to visit our "Faculty Spotlight" page which features some of their projects.
- The 2014 ICPSR Summer Program registration is now open
- The MU Social Science Statistics Center is a great place to get help with your statistical projects.
- Medical researchers can get help with statistical methodology through MU's Biostatistics Group. Contact Greg Petroski at 882-3373. Also check our page: "Statistical Research Using Health Related Datasets"
- Users of American Community Survey data may find this book useful: Using the American Community Survey: Benefits and Challenges, available as a free download. Or, check out the library copy
- See our page on funding opportunities.
See our most recent data purchases:
- International Country Risk Guide (ICRG) Table 3B: Political Risk Points by Component, 1984-2009
- Presidential Results By Congressional District 1992-2004 from Polidata
- Cross National Time Series data archive (on CD-ROM; available for checkout.) See description.
How to get Datasets
1. BEST – Download from a website to your computer.
The most convenient way to obtain data is to download it from a web-based data archive. MU faculty, staff and students may freely download datasets from ICPSR and also from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research (see tabs above). There are also many more sources for data on the internet, some of which are freely available, and others which can be licensed for a fee.
2. If data is not available online, check out a CD or DVD from MU Libraries
Ellis Library has a small collection of data CDs and DVDs including such titles as the General Social Survey and the Cross-National Time-Series Data Archive. We also have data discs issued by federal agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics, the Census Bureau, and more. Be aware that older CDs may have compatibility problems with modern operating systems. The best bet is to look for historic data in an archive like Data.gov. MU Libraries' data disks are catalogued in MERLIN, but not necessarily shelved together.
Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research
How to search for an ICPSR dataset by topic.
- Faceted searching: use search box on the ICPSR home page
- Broaden your concept of what's available: use the Subject Thesaurus.
- Finely tuned searching: use the Social Science Variables Database. It contains over 4 million variables, covering about 75% of the archive.
- Quickly scan for relationships before using statistical software. Click Find Data and then choose "View all studies for which online analysis is available."
Find articles first, then see the dataset used by the articles' creator(s). Check the ICPSR Bibliography of Data-Related Literature
Tips for downloading ICPSR data.
Students needing a dataset for a class should avoid any that are marked "restricted." Although restricted data is available under certain conditions, the paperwork cannot be processed quickly enough to meet class deadlines. Restricted data is fine for researchers working on dissertations, books, etc.
- Setting up an account and downloading
ICPSR detects the IP address of your computer to confirm that it falls within range of an affiliated institution. If you are off-campus the first time you attempt to set up an ICPSR account for downloading, you will be out of range and it will be necessary to install a free software from DoIT called Virtual Private Networking (VPN.) On the other hand, if you get your account initially set up using an on-campus machine, your logon info will authenticate you whether you are on campus or off.
- ICPSR has a well-designed Help page.
- Resources for Students includes a great section explaining the components of a data-based journal article.
- There are also tutorial videos on ICPSR's YouTube channel
Roper Center for Public Opinion Research
How to find and acquire Roper Center datasets: If you're already familiar the process, then you can skip this section and jump directly to the Roper Center search page.
- Quick overview, for beginners…
The first step is to get clear about the variables you’d ideally want in a dataset. It might be helpful to make a list. For example, if you are studying confidence in news media sources and you want to analyze results by geographic area, level of education, income, and voter participation, then you will need to find a single dataset that includes questions addressing all of these elements:
- confidence in television network news
- confidence in the local newspaper
- confidence in popular news magazines
- confidence in alternative press sources
- respondent’s residence
- respondent’s educational attainment
- respondent’s household income
- respondent’s voter participation in the most recent election
It is important to consider the characteristics of the sample used in a study, particularly if you plan to conduct your analysis at small geographic levels. Roper’s catalog provides characteristics of the samples used in each survey.
- Searching by variable
After you have created your list of variables, you can begin to search for surveys. The iPOLL database which features keyword searching on questions within surveys. It displays full text of survey questions and the statistical breakdown of multiple-choice format responses. There are many Roper datasets which have not been added to iPOLL, so it's good to check both.
You might prefer to look over a list of selected, popular datasets. We have such a list arranged by category.
- How to get Roper data.
Watch for these symbols:
|Data is available for download|
|Shows how respondents answered the single question|
Variables can be analyzed online in the browser
|Data is not available for immediate download, but can be specially requested. Contact the Data Services Librarian (Marie Concannon),|
Government Documents & Data Services Librarian
Phone: (573) 882-0748
Liaison Departments :
Areas of Expertise:
|Area of Special Interest:||