Mar 29, 2012

What do the values in PERMIT mean?

The PERMIT field is strictly an internal/staff field used for administrative purposes. The values are defined as follows:

  • AVAILABLE - This study is currently distributed by ICPSR.
  • UNAVAILABLE - This study is currently unavailable through ICPSR, but it is our belief that this is temporary. This issue is usually resolved in a few days/months and often stems from a problem with the data file or setup file.
  • RESTRICTED - ICPSR is no longer distributing this study, nor do we have any plans to do so. This usually happens when we are asked to pull a study, or when a study has been replaced by another study that has more data. I.e., we took down GSS 2000-2005 because they sent us GSS 2000-2006.

Note that RESTRICTED studies should not appear in search results, but their metadata should still be available. I.e., the persistent URLs still work.

UNAVAILABLE studies look the same as AVAILABLE studies, save that there are no download links.

Accessing and Using AHRQ MCC Data Stored at ICPSR

Data deposited at ICPSR will be freely available for download from the ICPSR web site until at least December 2015, except in cases where the data requires data licenses to protect respondents or patient confidentiality. In the latter case, users may be charged a small fee for administrative purposes (although the fee is negotiable). When the contract period ends, the collection will return to the ICPSR General Archive, which is supported by the dues of ICPSR members. ICPSR policy is to provide access to data based on the source of funding for each data collection. To the extent that distribution of an archived dataset is supported by member dues, access is free to ICPSR members, but others are charged a fee.  That said, many researchers in the United States and much of the rest of the world are affiliated with ICPSR member institutions.

For the primary investigators who have produced the data and archive them with ICPSR, there is no restriction on redistribution of their data. They may place it in other archives or provide the data to whomever they wish. ICPSR does not acquire copyright or any other legal right to the data. The archive asks only for the right to redistribute. If the primary investigator chooses to redistribute the data prepared with the assistance of ICPSR during this contract period or subsequently, there is no charge and no restriction.

Because ICPSR does not own any rights to the data nor do they restrict redistribution by depositors (only users may not redistribute for commercial reasons), it may be in the interest of researchers to leave a copy in the ICPSR archive even if they choose to distribute through other mechanisms as well. This helps ensure the continuity of data access both for outside researchers and the depositor.  As long as grantees agree, ICPSR will maintain a fully accessible version of the data in the archive.  

Mar 14, 2012

How does the compare variables tool work?

The compare variables utility lets you compare 5 or fewer variables in a table-based format. It lists each variable as a column, and different fields as rows. This utility is meant to be concise; it lists only select fields, and includes the ability to export the table to a delimited file so that it can easily be expressed in Excel.

Please note that this version of the comparison tool is relatively simple because we lack a clear idea of how useful this will be for users. For that reason, many of the more sophisticated functions have been left off. Users are welcome to send suggestions to It is our intent to evaluate the use of this utility sometime in mid-2013 so that we can decide whether it merits further work.

Additional information can be found below:

How do I edit my set? Can I save my set?

Right now, your selections are saved as part of your browser session. When you quit your web browser, those selections are lost. If you wish to remove/add selections, go back to the search results screen or remove them on the comparison screen.

Selections are saved as you page between results. I.e., results 26-50 and so on.

How can I get more than five variables?

We had to limit the variable count because the web display wouldn't work well with too many variables, and it can create performance issues (in terms of how fast the server gets the page to you). You can, of course, use the delimited export to send files to Excel and then copy/paste columns into one worksheet.

Why can't I see more than 25 categories?

As this is meant to be a quick/simple comparison utility, having too many category rows present is less than optimal. It makes it rather difficult to do a quick visual comparison.

Why is field X blank?

We are presenting all the marked up data we retain, so if it's not there it's because ICPSR hasn't had the resources to fully mark up that variable.

Mar 13, 2012

Some computers on my campus can't download member data. Why is that?

In all likelihood, the IP range for your campus has changed. Please provide ICPSR with information so that we can associate all your campus computers with your institution, and thus give access to users on those computers.

Just email updated IP information to

If you're unfamiliar with the term "IP range/address", here's a brief explanation. According to Stephanie Crawford of "How Stuff Works":

"Every machine on a network has a unique identifier. Just as you would address a letter to send in the mail, computers use the unique identifier to send data to specific computers on a network. Most networks today, including all computers on the Internet, use the TCP/IP protocol as the standard for how to communicate on the network. In the TCP/IP protocol, the unique identifier for a computer is called its IP address."

An individual IP address looks something like this:

The last digits signify the individual computer, while the first 2-3 parts of the number signify the institution. Many institutions have multiple/complex IP ranges. When in doubt, contact your IT/network staff on campus and just forward the IP range on to ICPSR's Web Support staff.