Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ICPSR: Finding Social Science Datasets


New to using ICPSR? Check out these:

  • Video tutorial - an overview of using ICPSR for finding datasets.
  • Hands-on tutorial - walks through using ICPSR (same content as YouTube video, but you drive).

ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research) - Database of 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.

VPN for Off Campus Access to ICPSR

Install and login to the Cisco AnyConnect VPN (Virtual Private Network) on your computer so that you are logged into the GSU network and thus analogous to being "on campus."

The VPN is available for download and instructions for using on the following platforms are available here: Windows | Mac | Android | Apple iOS

NOTE: There's a point where the directions tell you to enter as what to connect to.

Accessing ICPSR Data


Create a MyData Account

  1. IMPORTANT: To create a MyData Account:
    1. Traditionally, you must be *ON CAMPUS* to create your MyData account to be able to download ICPSR data from off campus.
    2. HOWEVER: You may be able to login with the VPN and then create an account from off campus. ^^See the previous box on installing and logging in via the VPN.
  2. You must 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.
  3. On ICPSR page, click the Log In button at the top right of the screen.
    1. NOTE: It's possible you may be prompted to enable cookies to login to your MyData account and/or have to clear previous cookies before logging in.
  4. Scroll to and click the Create Account button - do *NOT* use the Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, or ORCID options.
  5. At next screen create your account *using your GSU email*.
  6. IMPORTANT: After creating the MyData account, make sure you also then log in to the account.
  7. You should now see in the top right corner of the screen a My Dashboard button (in place of where the Log In button was -- if you still see the Log In button, just try clicking on it to see if it changes to My Dashboard) and are thus being recognized as a member of ICPSR via our GSU subscription.

IMPORTANT: You must log in to your MyData account on-campus every 6 months for it to remain validated (NOTE: This has been extended to a year under the COVID-19 circumstances).

Having issues creating a MyData Account?  Contact ICPSR help at


Downloading Data from ICPSR when Off Campus

TRADITIONALLY: You must have created a MyData account ON CAMPUS and have logged in to your MyData account ON CAMPUS in the last 6 months for it to remain validated and to be able to download ICPSR data from off campus. POST-COVID: If you login first to the VPN, you should be able to login to validate your account even from off campus.

  1. You must 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.
  2. You will be prompted to log in with your CampusID and password before accessing ICPSR.
  3. You may also encounter a window in which you should click the button Access Site Normally.

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 button 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 nor to act in any official capacity for ICPSR or GSU in the restricted-data agreement process. She also is not the "Representative of the Institution/Institutional Representative" mentioned in the Restricted Data Use Agreement. For Institutional Representative approval, data agreements should always be routed through the GSU Office of Legal Affairs for review and approval (contact Legal Services Coordinator Kisha D. Ward). 

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 (i.e., data you'll be able to download and use immediately):

  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.