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ICPSR & Other Social Science Data Sources

Searching Options

Searching Options at a Glance

Main Data Search

Indexes the full documentation for datasets, including descriptions of the variables

Search/Compare Variables

  • Social Science Variable Database includes over 4 million variable


Go in through:

Bibliography of Data-Related Literature

Continuously-updated database of thousands of citations

Search for a known dataset by:
  • Title
  • Study #
  • Investigator

Search by one or more keywords

Examine & compare variables across 76% of studies or series in ICPSR Access data by broad subject categories or websites that focus on particular subject areas that are sponsored by various agencies or organizations Published and unpublished works resulting from analyses of data held in the ICPSR archive


Tips for Searching

You can specify that your search be processed as a "phrase" instead of just "words" in the drop-down menu. This will narrow your search.

Do not use an asterisk to search for word stem variations, since this is done automatically.

To search by study number, omit leading zeroes.

To search for studies that contain specific variables, separate the query terms with commas; for example, drug use, probation, education. Then sort by variable relevance on the results page.

Tips for Reviewing Results

Read the summary - like a journal article abstract the summary will provide a good overview to help you determine whether the study meets your needs.

Read the codebook - for useful information about how the data were collected and organized. Note whether weights are given to certain variables.

Look at the questionnaire - what was being asked and how are the questions worded.

Check formats - What dataset format(s) are available for download or compatible with the statistical software package you're using.