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Contact Jeff Essic
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Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)

NCSU is a member of ICPSR, entitling students, faculty and staff to access and use its resources. Users agree not to distribute data to non-members; to use the data ethically; to cite their source data appropriately; and to provide ICPSR with a copy of any new research that is based on data already in the archive.

What is ICPSR? | Purpose | Privacy | ICPSR Account | How to Acquire Data for Research |
Other ICPSR Resources | Additional NCSU Resources for Using Numeric Data

What is ICPSR?

A unit within the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, ICPSR is a membership-based organization, with hundreds of member colleges and universities around the world. The consortium supplies data files for use with statistical software, such as SAS, SPSS, and Stata.

You will need basic statistical skills for using online analysis tools and more advanced skills for running your own analysis. Although SAS, SPSS, and Stata setup files are provided with many ICPSR datasets, they are not available for all data sets. Contact Data Services for a referral if you need help with a particular software package.

The ICPSR data holdings contain some 6,000 studies and 450,000 files that cover a wide range of social science areas such as:

  • population
  • economics
  • education
  • health
  • social and political behavior
  • social and political attitudes
  • history
  • crime
  • aging, and
  • substance abuse.

While the ICPSR holdings include several time series and other types of aggregate data, its holdings consist mainly of raw data derived from surveys, censuses, and administrative records. These data were originally collected for specific research or administrative purposes. However, the data have research potential that outlives the original purposes for which they were collected. ICPSR preserves these valuable data resources and makes them publicly available for secondary analysis.



ICPSR's main function is the collection, preservation and dissemination of digital social science data. It:

  • Provides data such as public opinion polls, survey of mass and elite attitudes, election returns, legislative records, census records, international financial statistics, income dynamics and social welfare program participation, among others.
  • Contains important data sets such as the American National Election Study, the Quality of Employment Survey, the Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and Plea Bargaining in the United States.
  • Includes numerous special topic archives.


A Note about Privacy

Notice:  Any personal information you provide to ICPSR is kept by them indefinitely and may be subject to disclosure pursuant to subpoena or other court order.  If you do not wish to provide personal information, you may log in anonymously.


ICPSR Account

In order to access ICPSR data, you must create an account with ICPSR. If you have not already created a login, look for the New User link. You will be asked for your email address and information about your NCSU affiliation. To complete the account creation process, ICPSR will send you an email and you must click on a link (URL) contained in the verification message. Once you have done this, you will be able to download data files.

The first time you create an account, you must do so with a computer connected to the web via an NCSU IP address (152.1.*). By logging in once from campus, your account will automatically be approved by ICPSR for on- or off-campus access for six months. After six months, simply login again from campus to re-authorize for the next six months.

If you have not yet created an account, are off campus, and need data now, use this proxy link.


How to Acquire Data for Research

When you go to download a study or its documentation, you will be prompted to login with your ICPSR account (see section above). ICPSR data may be downloaded directly from the ICPSR web site, or in some cases Web-based extraction and analysis tools are also available.

Go to the ICPSR web page at Use the search box in the bottom center to search for data sets by keyword or, if known, study number. Results are presented by study title with several hyperlinks:

  • description - details about the study
  • download - allows user to select specific files for a given study:
    • documentation or metadata about the study (the codebook*)
    • ASCII format data file with setup information for commonly used statistical softwares
    • (sometimes) multiple data sets, for instance multiple years in a time series study
  • related literature - to find research authors have indicated is related to a particular data set
  • online analysis - only available for some studies - indicates existence of a web tool enabling online manipulation of those data, eliminating the need to download the data set and manipulate it in Stata, SAS or SPSS. (The software powering many of these tools was developed by the Computer-assisted Survey Methods Program [CSM] at the University of California, Berkeley.)

*Please note: Hardcopy codebooks can still be found in the libraries' collections and other places around campus. However, many studies in the ICPSR archives are on-going and the old codebooks will not reflect the most current information. ICPSR strongly recommends referring to the online documentation files for the most accurate information.

It's a very good idea to download a study's documentation and codebook and read it before downloading the data itself. That will help you determine if a study is suitable for your purposes before you accumulate the other associated files.


Other ICPSR Resources


Additional NCSU Resources for Using Numeric Data