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ICPSR: Consortium for Political and Social Research

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Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) is an international consortium of more than 750 academic institutions and research organizations. It provides leadership and training in data access, curation and methods of analysis for the social science research community.

ICPSR maintains a data archive of more than 250,000 files of research in the social and behavioral sciences. It hosts 21 specialized collections of data in education, political and social behavior, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, history, terrorism, economics and other fields.

ICPSR collaborates with a number of funders including U.S. statistical agencies and foundations, to create archives organized around specific topics. Thematic collections and the new services created for them bring a dynamism to ICPSR from which the broader social science research community benefits. The funders provide new data, in most cases free to everyone, and this stimulates more research. The funded archives and ICPSR collaborate to build additional infrastructure for effective data use and discovery.

For a breakdown of some of the types of data collected

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by Pattie Sobczak, business and public policy collections librarian

Image: Measures of Effective Teaching Database

Social Explorer: Current and historical demographic data

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Social Explorer provides quick and easy access to current and historical demographic data. Easy-to-use online tools help users create custom maps and reports to visualize, explore and understand the patterns behind the numbers. The latest version offers new ways to explore and present data from 1790 to the present, from U.S. neighborhoods to across the globe. Users can access more than 220 years of census data with tens of thousands of maps, hundreds of reports, over 400,000 variables and 40 billion data elements.

The core data library includes U.S. Census data from 1790 to 2010 and American Community Survey data from 2005 to 2014. Users can examine this wealth of demographic information at the national, state, county, census tract, metropolitan statistical area (MSA) and block group geographic levels (where available).

Specialized U.S. data resources include the FBI Uniform Crime Report data (2010 and 2012), American election results (1912 to 2014), Religious Congregations and Membership Study (1980 to 2010), Vulcan Project carbon emissions data (2002), and County Health Rankings and Roadmaps Program data (2010 to 2016).

International data resources include the United Kingdom Census (2011), Canadian Census (2011), Eurostat (1990, 2000, 2010 to 2013), World Development Indicators (2013), and Irish religion and population data (1911 to 2001).

Users can create detailed data reports with the Reporting Tools. Export one or thousands of variables and geographies quickly and easily. Excel, CSV, and other file formatting shortcuts allow you to work with data in a variety of software programs for further analysis.

Users are encouraged to create an account so that they are able to save their work and access it for later use.

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by Patricia Sobczak, business and public affairs collections librarian

Access World News: New and current media

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Access World News contains materials from 9,688 sources spanning 160 countries, 1978 to the present. Content includes newspapers, newswires, journals, broadcast transcripts and videos. Searching can be limited to:

  • Country, state and territory, region, province or city
  • Decade, year, month, day, era or presidential era
  • Language

In addition to searching, users can use the Find a Topic feature to browse by topic. Twelve broad subject areas are broken down into lists of popular and current interest topics. Clicking a topic acts as a user-friendly starting point for related search terms.

Access World News also provides a “quick access” style list of special reports and hot topics. These items gather news reports of breaking events and popular social and cultural topics for ease of access. Users can find these lists under “Other Products” in the upper left corner of the search screen.

Coverage of the Richmond Times-Dispatch may be of particular interest to local scholars. The Richmond Times-Dispatch is covered from 1985–present. Additionally, Richmond Times-Dispatch blogs are covered from 2006–present. The Collegian from the University of Richmond (2007–current) and the Commonwealth Times from VCU (2003–current) are also indexed.

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By Stephani Rodgers, liaison to Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness

Image: Access World News

Governmentattic.org: FOIA requested docs posted online

 

FOIA

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Governmentattic.org is a non-commercial website that provides electronic copies of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiries. The documents on the website were obtained legally, following the FOIA rules. Each document has an identified source. The site is funded by the site owners, and receives no outside funding. Governmentattic.org is organized into 11 categories, including Department of Justice documents, FBI documents, Legislative Agencies, Government Corporations and State Records. From the FBI records regarding Ike Turner and alleged check passing to files regarding electronic surveillance at the Department of Justice, there is something to interest everyone.

If you are curious about how many requests are fulfilled and denied, you might be interested in the data from foia.gov.  This site also explains the process for filing a FOIA request.

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By Stephani Rodgers, Liaison for Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness

iPOLL: Comprehensive U.S. data from 1935 to today

iPoll (2)

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Drawn from every major polling organization in the United States, iPOLL offers comprehensive and up-to-date national and some international public opinion poll data. With more than 650,000 questions and answers dating to 1935, users can find public opinions on a variety of topics.

The database offers useful search features, including keyword, topic, organization and dates and also searching within a set of question results. iPOLL contains polling data on public policy issues ranging from elections to social security to religious status.

Special note may be made of the Topics at a Glance feature. Users may choose from a variety of topics found in the headlines, utilizing the pre-populated datasets, charts and issue briefs to get a quick overview of public opinion.

iPool is managed by The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, currently located at the University of Connecticut. According to its website: “It is one of the world’s leading archives of social science data, specializing in data from public opinion surveys. The Center’s mission is to collect, preserve, and disseminate public opinion data; to serve as a resource to help improve the practice of survey research; and to broaden the understanding of public opinion through the use of survey data in the United States and abroad. Founded in 1947, the Roper Center holds data ranging from the 1930s, when survey research was in its infancy, to the present. Its collection now includes over 22,000 datasets and adds hundreds more each year. In total, the archive contains responses from millions of individuals on a vast range of topics. …  The Roper Center has a strong presence in the public opinion community and maintains cooperative relationships with other archives around the world. Its Board of Directors contains representatives from both academic and commercial public opinion research.”

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Image: Creative Commons

by Nia Rodgers

Grey Literature: Resources beyond the library

“Public policy work increasingly relies on a wide range of resources — some are traditional scholarly publications, but the majority are ‘grey literature’. Reports, discussion papers, briefings, reviews and data sets produced by government, academic centres, NGOs, think tanks and companies are heavily used and highly valued in policy and practice work, forming a key part of the evidence base” (Lawrence, Houghton, Thomas & Weldon, 2014, p. 3).

Grey literature is academic work that is not published by commercial publishers. Examples include fact sheets, pre-prints, white papers, proceedings, patents, standards, newsletters, patents, bulletins, symposia, some surveys, some maps, and scholarly materials published in open access journals. With the rise of the internet, self-publishing has brought grey literature to researchers all over the world in a more timely fashion than traditional publishing. See this paper for more discussion on the value of grey literature: Find It

With the increase of electronic publishing opportunities, digitization efforts and emerging technologies, grey literature is now more available and more in demand by growing user communities.

by Nia Rodgers

Image: Grey Literature

Nonprofit Studies: Library research resources

nonprofit

People interested in careers in the nonprofit sector can pursue a degree or certificate at the undergraduate or graduate level through the Wilder School’s Nonprofit Studies Programs. These programs support the development of current and future executives, boards, staff and volunteers to become collaborative, thoughtful and ethical leaders in this growing field.

In support of the nonprofit studies curriculum, VCU Libraries offers a robust collection of books, ebooks, journals and electronic resources. An overview of these resources is listed below:

by Business and Public Affairs Collections Librarian Patricia Sobczak

 

Map It: Tools for research in the Wilder School

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Electronic mapping resources are fast becoming an important tool for researchers to visually communicate their scholarship. More and more VCU courses require the visualization of data to supplement academic efforts in effective and powerful ways. For example, while you can explain the concept of food deserts, having a way to visually show the large geographic areas that do not have access to a grocery store, paints a much more graphic reality. Or, when a nonprofit needs a list zip codes that meet a certain criteria for potential donors, looking at that data on an interactive map, enables you to change the data and make adjustments to better focus on exactly the areas you need to cover.

VCU Libraries has several mapping resources for a range of skill levels:

  • SimplyMap allows you to create thematic maps and reports using extensive demographic, business and marketing data. SimplyMap has all the data you need to answer key research questions, make sound business decisions and understand the socio-demographic and economic conditions of any geographic area in the United States. It offers more than 75,000 data variables related to demographics, employment, housing, market segments, businesses, consumer spending, brand preferences and public health. Find It
  • VCU Libraries owns many spatial and numeric data sets, most of which are produced by the Federal government. Use the VCU Libraries Search to search the collection, or browse a list of data collections.  Find It

To learn more about mapping resources and geographic information systems, the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs offers a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Also, as part of the Virginia higher education site license for ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute), VCU students, faculty and staff have free access to GIS courses offered via the ESRI Virtual Campus. For more information  and to register, please see the following:

by Business and Public Affairs Collections Librarian Patricia Sobczak