Skip to main content

Soc 390: Research Methods 4 -- Qualitative Data & ICPSR

Library research session on qualitative data, full-text sources, and the ICPSR data library.


ICPSR (the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research) is an organization of universities and colleges which maintains a data archive for social scientists on the University of Michigan campus. Government agencies, organizations, and individual researchers – in short, anyone who collects social data for research – may deposit data in the archive. Because Reed College is a member of ICPSR, Reed community members may download data sets and accompanying documentation.

ICPSR data sets are raw data. A statistical program such as STATA or R (SPSS and SAS are other commonly-used programs) is needed to create tabulations from the data. Reed supports Stata in a few computer labs. R is an open source statistical program.

Locating and Evaluating Data Sets

Use the Find & Analyze Data page to locate data sets in the ICPSR data archive by words in title, principal investigator, or study number.

The Find & Analyze Data page also provides these searching tools:

Each data holdings entry contains information that can help you to evaluate the usefulness of the data set, such as a summary, the time period covered, the format, structure, and size of the data set. Examine the entry carefully when deciding which data set(s) to download.

Downloading Data Sets

In order to download data sets from ICPSR, you will need to register on the MyData login page. As part of the registration process, you'll be asked to create a password and set your data format preferences.

Reed participates in the ICPSR Direct service. This means that you may download data sets yourself, directly from the web site. After deciding on a data set, click the Downloads link. You will see a web page with contact information for ICPSR at Reed. You’ll be required to log in with your e-mail address and password before accessing the download page.


ICPSR codebooks have been converted to electronic formats (usually ASCII or PDF) and should be downloaded with the accompanying data sets.