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**Sociology: Subject Guide to Graduate Research: Finding Existing Data -

The resources on this page are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what's available for materials to use for performing original data analysis - if you're not finding what you want or want to have a conversation about your specific data needs, email Mandy for an appointment - she's eager to help! :-)

Quantitative Datasets for Secondary Analysis

Below are some key places to start with when looking for quantitative datasets for statistical analyses.

GSS (General Social Survey) ~ U.S. Sociological and Attitudinal Trend Data, 1972-2014

The General Social Survey (GSS) "takes the pulse of America" on a vast number of topics, with national-level data collected beginning in 1972 to present.* A great resource for any discipline!

To identify variables for the entire dataset and/or specific years:

To do data online analysis with no need for downloading or special software:

To download data for analysis in statistical software (e.g., SPSS, SAS, Stata, R):

  • You can also download the entire dataset, pre-constructed subsets, or create customized subsets of the data using SDA 4.0 - for help using SDA 4.0, check out these SDA 4.0 video tutorials.

Don't like the SDA 4.0 interface for exploring the GSS? Try out the GSS Data Explorer and its help resources.

Need assistance?  Ask Mandy, Data Services Librarian (

* 1972 - 2014 data available for analysis as of 4/6/2016.

GIS (Geographic Information Systems)


ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research) - A Database of 9,000+ Datasets

Searching for datasets? ICPSR is the best place to start!


The ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research) database has over 9,000 datasets available spanning various social science disciplines and topics. The datasets in ICPSR are primarily quantitative, but it also includes some qualitative datasets.


My recommendations are to try these in the order you see below:

  1. Click FIND DATA > SEARCH/COMPARE VARIABLES to search for specific variables/questions asks in a survey (searches across ~76% of the datasets) -- good option pinpoint a very specific variable of interest that might be buried within a broader study.
  2. Click FIND DATA -- then use Browse options to browse for data by Topics, Series, Thematic Data Collections, or Global Data
  3. Use search field option to keyword search for datasets.

HELP RESOURCES: Check out some of ICPSR's YouTube videos for searching tips.


Create a MyData Account
  1. Access the ICPSR database through the Library's homepage, in Databases by Name A-Z list click the letter I and then scroll to and click on ICPSR so that you can be verified as a GSU affiliate (if you're on campus you'll be sent directly to ICPSR, if you're off campus you'll first login with your CampusID and password).
  2. On ICPSR page, click the Log In/Create Account link at the top right immediately under the Search button.
  3. At next screen, a pop-up window may appear - click the Access Site Normally button to continue.
  4. Click the Create Account button toward - do not use the Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, or ORCID options.
  5. At next screen create your account *using your GSU email*.
  6. If you are not automatically logged in now to your MyData Account, do so by clicking the Log In/Create Account link and logging in.
  7. You should now see in the top right corner of the screen that you are logged in and are thus being recognized as a member of ICPSR via our GSU subscription.
Accessing Public-Use/Non-Restricted Datasets
  1. Make sure you've accessed the ICPSR database through the Library's homepage, and that you've logged in to your MyData Account by clicking the Log In/Create Account link and logging in.
  2. The dataset record's Data and Documentation tab should have the data and documentation files available to download.
Accessing Restricted Data
  1. Make sure you've accessed the ICPSR database through the Library's homepage, and that you've logged in to your MyData Account by clicking the Log In/Create Account link and logging in.
  2. In the Notes of an individual dataset record, you'll see this: One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more."
  3. See this page for all the ins and outs of accessing and using restricted-use datasets.

IMPORTANT: As the ICPSR "Official Representative" at GSU, Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh has no authority to bypass the restricted-data requirements. She also is not the "“Representative of the Institution" mentioned in the Restricted Data Use Agreement (contact Legal Affairs OfficeURSA, or IRB Staff to find out who is).

Avoiding Restricted Data

If you're a student trying to find datasets for a class project, chances are that accessing restricted data is not going to be feasible. To limit your search results to only public-use data:

  1. Make sure you've accessed the ICPSR database through the Library's homepage, and that you've logged in to your MyData Account by clicking the Log In/Create Account link and logging in.
  2. Use the FIND DATA option to search or browse for datasets.
  3. On your search results page look to the left at the Filters.
  4. Click the Restriction Type button.
  5. Click Public Use.

Need assistance?  Ask Mandy, Data Services Librarian (

Looking for other places/ways to find datasets? Check out the "Finding Raw Data" tab on the Statistics and Data guide.

Research Data Services @ Georgia State University Library

The Library’s Research Data Services (RDS) Team offers support for data analysis tools & methods, mapping & data visualization, finding data, survey design, and data management

Visit this page for more information about our research data services, and browse our calendar for Drop In! hours and workshop listings.