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Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

ICPSR Search Overview

ICPSR has many ways to search and browse for data. 


Some data sets are available to all, some require logging in to access them, and some are restricted and require applying for permission to search and view those data sets (often due to confidential information that is not able to be anonymized) . 


Under the Find Data tab, you can see the many search options, statistics about the number of items available, and other details on the contents of the repository. 

ICPSR Searching by Variables

ICPSR allows you to search and compare variables from studies included in the database. The whole collection is not included, only 75% of the collection. You can search variable descriptions for all of the collection in the general “Find Data” search.

Searching variables for key terms allows you to see how they are worded with the exact label or question, what type of measurement the variable is (numeric, character, etc), and links to the actual studies themselves.

In this example, hot dog  was searched and found in 695 variables. 



Clicking on the Variable itself  (in this example, the first result found above) will show the question and the responses.

Image of one variable result for Hot Dog search in ICPSR

You can also compare variables. In this example the first three results from the hot dog search were selected for comparison. 

            Variable comparison for the first three results in the hot dog search in ICPSR


ICPSR Searching by Theme

A third way to search for data is to browse by Search by Themed collections for ICPSR.  Because ICPSR is a repository for many federal and nonprofit agencies, they often group specific sourced results together for convenience. All of these can be searched at one time using the general “Find Data” search.

Collections include National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging, Child and Family Data Archive, and many other collections on education, fire arm safety, health, and other topics.

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