How to use ICPSR: How to use ICPSR collection


Access to ICPSR collection

  • How to Read a Journal Article - Tips and tricks to make reading and understanding social science journal articles easier.

  • A Guide to Interpreting SPSS Output - How to interpret frequency distributions, crosstabulations, comparison of means tests, correlations, and OLS regressions done in SPSS. Used in teaching undergraduate Introduction to Statistics course.

Downloading data

When you find a study that you wish to download, you will see a variety of download links on the study home page that enable you to download individual documentation files, or application-specific bundles (at either the study or dataset level). The "Quick Download" button provides multiple options on mouse over.

Before downloading the data, you may want to do two things to assure that the study meets your needs.

  • Review the description of the study. This may include important information about file formats and other unique characteristics of the data.

  • View the documentation files, including the codebook.

Note that in downloading data from ICPSR, you signify that you agree not to share the data with anyone not authorized by ICPSR to receive it. You further agree to the terms of use.

Access to ICPSR Collection

  • ICPSR Data Archive ICPSR offers more than 500,000 digital files containing social science research data. Disciplines represented include political science, sociology, demography, economics, history, gerontology, criminal justice, public health, foreign policy, terrorism, health and medical care, early education, education, racial and ethnic minorities, psychology, law, substance abuse and mental health, and more.
  • Sign in to ICPSR To download data, you need to set up your own account. After creating your account, you can login and download ICPSR datasets directly from ICPSR website.
  • How to Cite ICPSR Data This page offers guidelines and best practices for citing social science research data in order to promote vigorous and consistent attribution of datasets.

Subject Librarian

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Rui Wang
Social Sciences Librarian / Professor

Office: Park Library 220

ICPSR and its collection

What is ICPSR?

The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)is an international consortium of about 700 academic institutions and research organizations, ICPSR provides data access, curation, and methods of analysis for the social science research community. Each member institution has an Official Representative. The role of the ICPSR Official Representative (OR) at a member institution is to assist faculty, staff and students with using ICPSR resources. Rui Wang is the ICPSR Official Representative at CMU. Please send an email to for research help.

What are in the ICPSR collection?

Most of the datasets in the ICPSR archive are raw data from surveys, censuses, and administrative records. They were originally gathered in research projects and for administrative purposes. ICPSR preserves them because they have value for "secondary analysis" - that is, reexamining old data to address new questions or to employ new analytic methods. You will not get reports, charts, publications, or other studies from ICPSR. Rather, you will get raw numerical data which can be analyzed. Some datasets have been used in published studies.

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