Aug 21, 2007

I can't see or click on the data file that I am trying to download!

Assuming you are at a member institution, the data are probably restricted or the file has some limitations on its use. Go to the Description & Citation page of the study and scroll down to the Access and Availability section and review the Restrictions field. It will tell you under what conditions the data can be accessed.

I have no experience creating setup files for statistical packages. How do I load the data into the program?

You can contact ICPSR User Support at to inquire about the possibility of ICPSR creating setup files for the study. If it is determined that ICPSR cannot create them or cannot create them within your time frame, then you are advised to seek assistance from someone on your campus with experience in the statistical package that you have chosen to use. The study codebook contains variable information that is needed to create a setup file. If you are at a member institution, consult with your local ICPSR Official Representative as to who locally can help you in creating such files. For that person's contact information, check our "Need Help?" page from a campus computer, or search for your school's information.

I am taking a stats class and need a dataset. I have selected a dataset, but there is no setup file for the stat package I am using. What should I do?

Not all datasets come with setup files. If the option is not present in Step 1 of the Download, a setup file is not currently available through ICPSR.

Consider using data that is formatted as SPSS portable, SAS transport, or Stata system files. To locate studies with your preferred statistical format, enter your preferred format term into the search form on the ICPSR home page. The returned list of studies will have that format available for download. The formatted data files include the necessary variable information to complete the analysis.

If you have further questions about how to proceed, check with your school's IT department or local computer lab for assistance. If you are at a member institution, consult with your local ICPSR Official Representative.

I downloaded data from your site, but my statistics application issues an error message that the file cannot be found.

"I downloaded data from your site, but my statistics application issues an error message that the file cannot be found. I have replaced the 'file-specification' string for the raw ASCII data file with what appears to be a correct Drive, Folder Hierarchy, and Filename specification. What is the problem?"

Data files must be uncompressed before they can be used.

ICPSR files are zipped with WinZip. If the downloaded file is represented with a vice-grips folder icon, the computer has WinZip installed. In this case, extract the files from the file with WinZip. If the file is represented with a folder icon that has a zipper on the left-hand side of the folder, WinZip is not installed and the XP operating system will treat the file as a compressed folder. But since the files are actually compressed in a WinZip archive file, the XP operating system is not able to provide the files to other applications (as it is able to do with files located in a standard compressed folders). Files can be extracted from the WinZip archive files that appear to be compressed folders by moving the nested folders and/or files to an uncompressed folder.

If you are using a computer that does not have WinZip installed, and are having difficulty accessing the data files, check with your school's IT department or the computer lab where you are working to learn what uncompressed directory to use. Move the downloaded file to that directory, and extract the compressed files there. Once the data files are extracted, they should be accessible to the statistical application.

If you chose to save the downloaded zipped files to a removable media such as a CD, or jump drive, be aware that the compression issue may still need to be addressed.

The statistical application still does not see the data file. What else could it be?

Some statistical applications have a limit on the number of characters that can be used to specify a file location. The default folder hierarchy in which ICPSR distributes its files comprises at least three levels. If this folder hierarchy is extracted to a folder that is already nested within several other folders, the length of the resulting drive, folder hierarchy, and filename specification could exceed that which is usable by the statistics application. In cases such as this, ICPSR recommends that the lowest folder in the hierarchy be moved or copied to a location as high in the folder hierarchy as possible and that this new location be specified in the setup files.

How do I access ICPSR data if I am not at a member institution?

Some ICPSR data are freely available for anyone to download from our Web site. These data are part of the topical archives at ICPSR and generally include data pertaining to criminal justice, health and aging, substance abuse and mental health, child care, and health and medical care. Other data, referred to as members-only data, can only be downloaded by member institutions. Individuals at nonmember institutions interested in those data should send email to ICPSR User Support at or call (734) 647-2200 for access information.