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Finding Social Science Data for Research : Home

This research guide provides an introduction to using campus resources, government agencies, and consortia like ICPSR for finding and obtaining social science data.

Secondary Data Analysis in Social Science

"Secondary analysis is the process of re-examining existing data to address new questions or use methods not previously employed." ICPSR’s Glossary of Social Science Terms

The Data and Information Services Center (DISC) assists researchers and students in locating and accessing quantitative, numeric microdata for their secondary analysis in the social sciences. DISC maintains campus-wide subscriptions to the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.

Contact us by e-mail:

For more information about using data for secondary analysis, please refer to this DISC web page

DISC Resources

Dataset Holdings: ICPSR, Roper, studies from other distributors, U.S. government data, and locally produced archival datasets. When creating an account at ICPSR, please be sure to use your email address during the registration process.

Internet Crossroads: approximately 900 annotated links to data-related social science resources on the Internet.

Country Statistical Yearbooks: one of the most popular research guides on campus.

Online Data Archive: contains 75 archival datasets publicly available for direct web download.

BADGIR (Better Access to Data for Global Interdisciplinary Research) Catalog: an online data discovery and analysis tool.

Start Your Search For Data Early

Questions to ask:

What are your goals and purposes?
What type of source can meet your research need? Datasets or aggregated statistics?
Who has gathered the information? Government agency? Research entity? A literature search can help!
When was the data collected?
What time frame does the data cover?
What geographic area is most appropriate for your research?
What geographic areas are available to you?
How was the data collected? Survey or administrative records?
How can you access the data?
Does your library subscribe to the source you need?


Charles Fiss

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Charlie Fiss
Data & Information Services Center
Rm. 3329 Social Science Bldg.
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 265-9240