DPLS News, December 1994

Please note: Older issues of the newsletter are likely to contain
broken links -- the newsletter is presented here "as published."

DISC News

December 1994

Table of Contents


On-line Inroads

Diskspace is getting cheaper, and electronic communications speeds are getting faster. What this adds up to is an increasing number of on-line, interactive, data sources. While it is generally agreed that the creation of these on-line data repositories is a positive thing for social science researchers, there are some who warn of the lack of controls (quality and bibliographic, to name two). Despite this, several sites providing access to data are now publicly available.

One example are the data files (most from the U.S. Bureau of the Census) available through the Information and Computing Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL). Currently the LBL has over 125 gigabytes of on-line data, available for access via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or NFS (Sun Network File System). The data files include 1990 Census of Population and Housing Summary Tape Files 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 3A, 3B. 3C, 3D; the Equal Employment Opportunity files for 1990; and County Business Pattern, Current Population Survey, Foreign Trade, Survey of Income and Program Participation, American Housing Survey, and National Health Interview Survey data files. The site is well documented and accessible via the World Wide Web (WWW): http://cedr.lbl.gov/cdrom/doc/faq.html.

The Consortium for International Earth Science information Network (CIESIN) is setting up a similar high-technology data site. They are collaborating with numerous Federal agencies such as NASA and the EPA, and other organizations like the United Nations, to facilitate the electronic sharing of data ªrelevant to understanding human interactions with the environment.º Currently available are the 1% and 5% Public Use Microdata Samples from both the 1980 and 1990 U.S. Census of Population and Housing. For information email ciesin.info@ciesin.org or see their WWW site: http://town.hall.org/edgar/edgar.html.

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Census 2000 and You

The Census Bureau is seeking advice from non-federal data users about their content and geographic needs for the 2000 census. The solicitation process, which runs through mid-March of 1995, is directed to non-federal users such as state, local and tribal governments, the business sector, and academic researchers. To obtain a survey form, send email to dlee@info.census.gov.

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Streamlining the DPLS

As the networked environment is making it easier for users to directly access large datasets on remote servers, the DPLS is making local changes to improve efficient access to data for our community of users. As the number of nine-track tape drives on campus dwindles, we are steadily transporting our large collection of datasets to other media so that we can provide quick, easy access to our users. At the same time, we are evaluating each dataset to determine its value for retention. This entails the first ever `weeding' project in the library's 30-year history, and promises a more valuable and controlled collection for users to access.

This general house-cleaning effort need not worry hardcore data-lovers, because we are not weeding any archival or hard-to-replace datasets. The only datasets marked for disposal are those that can be easily re-ordered from the ICPSR. The staff feels that this project is well-timed because an increasing volume of data from ICPSR are being `served' directly through the network via FTP. Moreover, we are facing the upcoming renovation work on our floor in the Social Science Building (we will be moving Janurary 9th to Ingraham Hall!), and will have less tapes to store (at controlled temperature and humidity levels!) during this temporary move.

On the other hand, we want to remind our users that you can help us keep our collection dynamic and current by depositing datasets with the DPLS that you have used for your own research, which may benefit others with similar data needs. This may be as simple as letting us make a copy of the dataset purchased for a research project that is finished and that can be shared with other data users. Or, if the dataset was created by you for a research project, we can help you create proper documentation for archiving the data with the DPLS.

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Selected Recent Acquisitions

  • Current Population Survey: Annual Demographic File, 1994 (AH-004-037)
  • National Health Interview Survey, 1989-1991 [CD-ROM version] (QC-008-049, 050, 051)
  • National Hospital Discharge Survey, 1990 [CD-ROM version] (QG-020-003)
  • National Survey of Unmarried Women, Age 20-29: 1983 (QP-010-001)
  • Stanford Child Custody Study: Family and Child Data, 1984-1990 [waves I-III] (QK-034-001, 002)
  • Panel of Individual Income Tax Returns, 1979-1988 (CB-045-002)
  • Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 1970 Census and 1980 Census Occupation Code Crosswalk File (ZA-018-001)
  • Census of Population and Housing, 1980 and 1990: Equal Opportunity File (AH-021-001 and AH-022-001)
  • CBS News/New York Times Monthly Polls, #1 and #2, October 1990 (LA-087-001, 002)
  • Practice Patterns of Young Physicians, 1987 (QG-032-001)

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Student Paper Competition

The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) has announced its 29th Annual Student Paper Competition, open to both current students (undergraduate and graduate) and to those who received a degree during the 1993-1994 academic year. Papers in any field related to the study of public opinion, as most broadly defined, and in the theory and methods of survey and market research and applications of statistical techniques to such research are being solicited. Entries should be 18-25 pages in length. A prize of $250 will be awarded for the winning paper, along with an invitation to present it at the AAPOR's 50th Anniversary Conference next May. Entries must be submitted by January 6, 1995. For more information contact Professor James Beniger, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0281.

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Election Update

During each election year since 1952 the National Election Studies (N.E.S.) Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan surveys Americans on their voting behavior, enduring political predispositions, perceptions of groups and candidates, and participation in political life. This time-series collection continues with data from the 1994 election expected to be available this January. The data library holds election-related data from other sources as well, such as exit polls, public opinion polls, and many international voting-behavior studies.

The N.E.S. is preparing for the 1996 election by conducting a 1995 pilot study. The pilot will provide social scientists with a vehicle to try out new questions for possible inclusion in 1996. For more information on submitting proposals, contact the N.E.S. via email at nes@umich.edu.

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Researcher's Notes: A Historian's Use of Data

by Thomas Archdeacon
Professor of History
UW-Madison

(This is the second in a series of occasional articles by library patrons describing their use of data obtained from the DPLS.)

As a former faculty director of the Data and Computation Center, I have had first-hand experience of the outstanding job done by the DPLS in support of research. Over the years, data supplied through the DPLS, including extracts from the General Social Survey and from the National Election Studies, have contributed to my books, Becoming American (Free Press, 1983) and Correlation and Regression Analysis: A Historian's Guide (UW Press, 1994). At present, the data library is acquiring, through ICPSR, data from the Immigration and Naturalization Service necessary for a paper on the impact of changes in American laws and policies on contemporary Irish immigration that I will be presenting next summer at a conference in Belfast.

Faculty members and graduate students are so conscious of the DPLS's support of research that we sometimes forget the enormous contribution the staff makes to the teaching mission as well. I have much appreciated the assistance received in obtaining datasets and making extracts from them for use in my various classes on immigration and ethnicity. Indeed, I believe we should all call attention to the DPLS's role in enriching instruction when urging the administration to enlarge the resources available to it.

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Internet Corner

The Internet Corner is a regular feature of the DPLS News where library staff post useful resources on the Internet. Highlighted are items of interest in the Social Sciences, particularly networked data that is publicly available.

Data Archive Profile

Information from the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect at Cornell University's Family Life Development Center may be of interest to social science researchers in many fields. New online services make it easier to find out about current research in the area of child abuse and related issues. In addition, applications will now be available (early December) for the annual Summer Research Institute at Cornell, in Ithaca, New York, June 18-23, 1995.

The archive has established a Gopher/FTP server at gopher.fldc.cornell.edu. Among the interesting items posted are the current newsletter, The Archive Update, ªhot items,º a catalog of holdings including abstracts of datasets, as well as online dataset documentation and ordering information. The archive distributes current datasets such as: National Family Violence Resurvey, 1985, R. J. Gelles and M. A. Straus; Youth Information Form: Data from Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs, 1987-1990, Office of Human Development; Maltreatment and the Academic and Social Adjustment of School Children, 1987-1988, D. Eckenrode and M. Laird.

Another item on Gopher is the archive to the electronic listserv, Child-Maltreatment-Research-L@cornell.edu. By browsing recent messages you can decide if you would like to subscribe; if you choose to do so, send your request to subscribe to listserv@cornell.edu. And, if you are interested in applying to the Summer Institute, browse the Gopher item for a description or stop in at the DPLS for further information.

Statistical Abstract of the U.S. Online

Now it is easy to get national statistical tables and rankings over the Internet through the Bureau of Census gopher. First, open a gopher session at gopher.census.gov. Then choose Enter the Main Data Bank. Other useful entries are here, such as County Business Patterns and County and City Data Book summaries. If you choose Statistical Abstract of the United States, you may browse or download a myriad of tables organized into sections of State Rankings, State Profiles, Economic Indicators, and USA Statistics in Brief. Also included is an Index of Subjects, Guide to Sources and Ordering Information relating to the Statistical Abstract of the United States.

Sam Houston State Economics Gopher

The SHSU Network Access Initiative Project has developed a wide-ranging economics Gopher and FTP site in this subject area. Virtually all the known economics and related Internet resources seem to be compiled in this list. The University has developed mirror FTP archives for important economic data such as LABSTAT (Bureau of Labor Statistics site described in the April 1994 Internet Corner). The Gopher also points to economics listserver archives, working paper archives, course syllabi in economics, bibliographies, etc. Point your Gopher to Niord.SHSU.edu, choose the Economics directory, and browse away!

Higher Education Dataset

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Research and Improvement has placed the actual data from current and past year IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) surveys on its Internet site. This is accessible through the World Wide Web (via Mosaic or another browser) at URL: www.ed.gov, or FTP at ftp.ed.gov, or Gopher at gopher.ed.gov. The menu path is Educational Research, Improvement and Statistics/Postsecondary Education/Surveys and Studies/IPEDS.

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End of December 1994 Newsletter