Data Sets for Quantitative Research


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.


Get Data


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  MU Libraries' data disks are catalogued in MERLIN, but not necessarily shelved together.



Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research

  1. How to search for an ICPSR dataset by topic.

  2. 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.

  3. 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



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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Browsing

You might prefer to look over a list of selected, popular datasets. We have such a list arranged by category.

  1. How to get Roper data.

Watch for these symbols:


Data is available for download
LetterI Shows how respondents answered the single question

Variables can be analyzed online in the browser

chart Data is not available for immediate download, but can be specially requested.  Contact the Data Services Librarian (Marie Concannon),


Contact Librarian


Marie Concannon
Government Documents & Data Services Librarian


Phone: (573) 882-0748
Address: 106-B Ellis Library
Yahoo IM: concannon_marie

Liaison Departments :

Areas of Expertise:
  • Federal, state and local government publications
  • Statistics collected by any governmental body
  • Microdata for use in quantitative analysis
Area of Special Interest:

  • Historical information from state government