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LIBRARY GUIDE TO Using Data in the Social Sciences

Using Data in the Social Sciences
Census.gov - the U.S. Census Bureau recently updated two key tools on census.gov with new features to make accessing statistics easier than ever before.

ICPSR - Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research - ICPSR is the world's largest archive of digital social science data. It's a leader in the area of research data management and teaching with data. Here you can find data files on a wide range of topics, from elections to education to health. Data files are freely accessible to members, and OU is a member organization. You can also use their interface to search for studies.

iPoll - The iPOLL Databank is the most comprehensive, up-to-date resource for US public opinion poll data (from the Roper Center Public Opinion Archives).

American FactFinder - American FactFinder provides access to data about the United States, Puerto Rico and the Island Areas. The data in American FactFinder come from several censuses and surveys.

Data.gov - Here you will find data, tools, and resources to conduct research, develop web and mobile applications, design data visualizations, and more.

National Archive of Criminal Justice Data - facilitates research in criminal justice and criminology, through the preservation, enhancement, and sharing of computerized data resources; through the production of original research based on archived data; and through specialized training workshops in quantitative analysis of crime and justice data.

Pew Research Center - Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research.

ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the US - The ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic conditions of the United States.
Accessing and Using IPCSR Datasets
Create a personal ICPSR account
A free, personal account is required to access much of the data from ICPSR (you are required to log-in to download or upload datasets).  The creation of  this account must be done while you are on campus so the computer can be verified as an OU IP address. After you have set-up the account, you may access ICPSR from any computer.

ICPSR is listed in the A-Z list of library databases as well as in the subjects lists of many relevant areas of study.: Log In/Create Account can be found in the upper left corner. (You can log in using Facebook or Google or you can create an independent log in to ICPSR).

Resources for Instructors tab:
Data-Driven Learning Guides- These guides cover various topics covered in introductory social sciences texts and each guide includes: overview of the assignment, objectives, analysis type, publisher, related data sets, related studies, access notes, related resources.

Crosstab Assignment Builder- This tool allows an instructor to use the dataset of his or her choosing to set up variables for his or her students to manipulate. There is variability in the control the students are allowed based on the instructor's choices. Datasets available for use with this tool are listed and instructions for using crosstabs as an assignment are also available.

Exercise Sets-These are more in-depth assignments. Exercises may be used individually or in sub-sets. These sets are appropriate for research methods classes and any class teaching statistical analysis, qualitative methods, and other research methods.

What kinds of datasets are available?
  • ICPSR has over ½ million data files that date from the 1960s to the present..
  • All census information is contained in ICPSR.
  • Research resources, including a searchable bibliographic citations database, a variables database to find studies that have addressed specific variables, online data analysis services, and a variety of research related publications.
  • Teaching resources, including course modules that allow you to integrate data analysis into your courses that enable students to use current research data to explore topics relevant to your course content. 

Who is contributing the data?
Many of these datasets were deposited by academic and professional researchers. The files contain the original data from surveys and other sources. Most of these files are available in SPSS, SAS and other formats.  The data archives can be searched by topic, date, or publisher. In addition to the main data archive, the data archives contains special collecitons on the following topics: Aging, criminal justice, demographic and population data (including the US census data, education, international data on cross national international relations, health and mental health, substance abuse, race and ethnicity, terrorism,

Library Contact
Picture: Anne Zacharias

Anne Zacharias
Social Sciences & Outreach Librarian

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