Data Sets for Quantitative Research
Data Sets for Quantitative Research
Machine-readable data for use in quantitative research
The Data Archives Service at MU Libraries offers reference assistance to MU faculty, staff and students in the acquisition of raw datasets for use in teaching and original research. Through our campus memberships in the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, MU affiliates may access and download any of thousands of datasets on a wide variety of topics. We also help users access the growing collection of public use datasets on the internet.
MU faculty from a variety of departments are engaged in social, political, health and demographic research using raw data. Their findings promote a better understanding of our social and political structures. We invite you to visit our "Faculty Spotlight" page which features some of their projects.
- 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.
- Visit our page on funding opportunities.
- The MU Social Science Statistics Center is open. This 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.
- Link list for presentation "Statistical Research Using Health Related Datasets"
- Users of American Community Survey data may find this book quite useful: Using the American Community Survey: Benefits and Challenges. See full text online or check out the library's print copy.
- Faculty: If you would like to have us do a brown bag session or hands-on workshop for your on-campus or web-assisted class, please contact Marie Concannon, Data Services Librarian, or Ray Bacon, SAS/SPSS Support Specialist.
How to get Datasets
1. Download from a website to your computer.
The best way to get datasets is to download them directly from an online data archive to your computer. MU faculty, staff and students may download datasets directly from ICPSR and also from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research (see menu links in navigation box on the left). There is no limit to the number of files you may download. There are also many more sources for data on the internet, some of which are available for free download.
2. Check out a CD-ROM from MU Libraries
Ellis Library has a small collection of data on CD-ROM format, for example, the General Social Survey. We also have CDs issued by federal statistical agencies, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics, the Census Bureau, and more. Older CDs may not work in modern computers, and the better bet is to see if the data is available for download from a website. Browse our data CDs on the open shelves, or find them through the MERLIN Catalog.
Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 to find in a dataset. It might be helpful to make a list. For example, if you are studying confidence in various news media sources and you want to analyze results by geographic area, by level of education, by income, and by 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. We have a database which features keyword searching on questions within surveys: iPOLL. It displays full text of survey questions and the statistical breakdown of multiple-choice format responses. Finding survey questions this way is easy. The challenge lies in getting the compete dataset from which any particular survey question was taken. For that, you may need to use the Roper Center web catalog or contact the Data Services Librarian for assistance.
Some people prefer to look over a list of selected, popular datasets. We have such a list arranged by category.
- How to get Roper data.
Many Roper datasets are available for immediate download. If you find one in the archive which is not immediately downloadable, contact the Data Services Librarian (Marie Concannon), who will ask the Roper Center to expedite processing of the particular dataset.
Government Documents & Data Services Librarian
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