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.