DPLS News, March 1998

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

DPLS News
March 1998

Table of Contents

Professional Associations

New Head Librarian at DPLS

Researcher's Notes, by Daniel Long

NCES Data Restrictions Eased

Slave Ship Data Popular

ICPSR Summer Training

Internet Corner


Professional Associations

Did you know that in addition to acquiring and preserving data, providing reference service to users, maintaining a WWW site, and keeping up with the latest technology, DPLS is also actively involved in two professional organizations: the Association of Public Data Users (APDU) and the International Association for Social Science Information, Service, and Technology (IASSIST)?

Headquartered at the University of New Orleans, APDU (http://www.apdu.org) is a national network that links data users, producers, and disseminators of government statistical data. APDU’s members share a vital concern about the collection, dissemination, preservation and interpretation of public data. APDU is committed to:

  • Helping users identify public data that meets their needs and apply those data in cost-effective and appropriate ways.
  • Establishing effective two-way communication between data producers and users.
  • Bringing the perspectives and concerns of public data users to bear on important issues of government information and statistical policy.

International in scope, IASSIST (http://datalib.library.ualberta.ca:80/iassist) takes an active role in the promotion of global exchange of information, experience, and standards by bridging the interests and concerns of three distinct communities working in the public and private sectors.

  • Social researchers and scientists who are producers and users of micro and macro level data.
  • Information specialists who preserve data, manage facilities and provide services that promote the secondary use of data.
  • Computing specialists who advance technical methods to manipulate and analyze data.

Both organizations hold annual conferences and publish newsletters, but the most valuable benefit of membership remains the network of professional colleagues who keep each other informed and current with regard to the use of data in the global academy.

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New Head Librarian at DPLS

DPLS is pleased to welcome Senior Special Librarian, Cindy Severt to its staff. Cindy brings with her a wealth of experience having served as Data Librarian for the Center for Demography and Ecology for eight years. She was recently elected to the Board of Directors of APDU, and is Chair of that organization’s Technology Committee. Cindy has long been active in IASSIST, and will serve as the campus Official Representative for ICPSR.Cindy joins Special Librarians Lu Chou and Robin Rice in assisting campus researchers with their data needs at DPLS. Please stop by the library to introduce yourself to Cindy and/or come to our Open House March 19, 2-4 PM, and enjoy wine and desserts!

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Researcher's Notes

by Daniel Long

DPLS has been quite a helpful resource for data in my research on intra-country comparisons of educational mobility. I am examining the degree of educational mobility between parents and children to be able to infer whether education exacerbates or alleviates social stratification. In order to distinguish between allocation and expansion changes in education, I do logistic regressions of the effects of parental characteristics on educational transitions. Examples are no schooling to some primary school, some primary school to completed primary school, etc. Researchers have done such studies for many developed countries and some less developed countries in Asia, but none have been done in Latin America. Given my question and choice of methods, I required data sets from numerous countries in Latin America that ask respondents from ages 25-65 about their education and their parents’ education and occupation.

I began my research with a focus on the educational mobility in Chile in the spring of 1997. Chile is an interesting case study. If the modernization thesis is true, it should show social mobility is due to education. This is reflected in Chile’s distinguished educational attainment in the region and its rapid economic growth over the last decade and a half. The DPLS staff helped me search through publicly available data at the ICPSR, the University of Michigan, and the University of Texas, to examine whether any contemporary data sets have asked about respondents’ and parents’ education. I found no such data set. However, this search of existing U.S. data proved to be crucial in my receiving a grant to travel to Chile in the summer of 1997 to search for an appropriate data set.

This fall, I sought to expand my study to other countries in Latin America. As I expand my study, DPLS’ wide scope of international data sets has proved quite useful. DPLS had recently acquired a 1997 survey of "Social Stratification and Mobility in Buenos Aires" by Jorge Raul Jorrat. I also found data from Brazil in the 1982 "National Household Sample Survey" by the Brazilian Statistical Institute. Last, I found a survey series done by the Latin American Center for Research in the Social Sciences. The series, titled "Stratification and Mobility" covers Buenos Aires, 1960, Santiago, 1961, and Rio De Janeiro, 1959.

At present, I am compiling and recoding these different data sets from Chile, Argentina, and Brazil in order to analyze their different experiences of educational mobility over time. The current and archival data that DPLS has in their holdings has allowed me to expand my question to examine educational mobility from as early as 1900. I wish to extend my gratitude for their continued help as I pursue this research. Anyone interested in this research may contact me at dalong@ssc.wisc.edu.

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NCES Data Restrictions Eased

The use of data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics which contains "individually identifiable information," requires a restricted-use license by researchers. One example is High School and Beyond Fourth Followup Survey, 1992. The licensing procedure is complex and carries stiff penalties when breached. Last year, the Office of the General Counsel lifted one obstacle: the required signature of the Attorney General for researchers from state universities. DPLS has a copy of the licensing procedures.

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Slave Ship Data Popular

The graph below charts the success of Slave Movement During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries in the Online Data Archive section of the DPLS website. From February 1997 through January 1998, datafiles were downloaded by Internet users 613 times. Library staff noted a marked increase in the number of downloads just before and after the December release of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster movie Amistad. The data has enjoyed use by social science researchers, genealogists, and K-12 educators, from Tennessee to Rhode Island, and as far away as Australia and Norway. Recently we have added a page which lists sites that have linked to the slave transport data.

 

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ICPSR Summer Training

The Summer Training Program in Quantitative methods of Social Research, sponsored by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) serves Consortium member colleges and universities by offering a comprehensive, integrated program of studies in research design, statistics, data analysis, and social methodology. In general, emphasis is focused on those courses and subjects that are not normally integral parts of the curricula of member institutions. This is not because the courses are of limited importance, but because most colleges and universities find that it is not practical to support the sort of specialized offerings that form the core of the Summer Training Program's curriculum. A full online course catalogue with application and admisson procedures, and registration form can be found at http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/sumprog/. Please note that the deadline for registering is April 20, 1998.

Stipend available to members of UW-Madison

As we have in the past, DPLS is pleased to be able to offer a stipend to members of UW-Madison for participatiing in the ICPSR summer program. Please see DPLS staff or email severt@dpls.dacc.wisc.edu for details.

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Internet Corner

REESWeb: http://www.pitt.edu/~cjp/rees.html

The REESWeb--sponsored by the Center for Russian and East European Studies of the University of Pittsburgh-- "is a comprehensive index of electronic resources on the Balkans, the Baltic states, the Caucusus, Central Asia, Central Europe, the CIS, Eastern Europe, the NIS, the Russian Federation, and the former Soviet Union." Links are presented in useful ways such as resources by discipline, resources by type (including "document repositories" and "interactive databases") and national homepages. Critical annotations help the user to narrow down choices without having to click to every site first.

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Infonation

i-globeThe United Nations’ CyberSchoolBus program has created a new online resource for simple but up-to-date country comparisons. Infonation is "an easy-to-use database, with over 30 different fields of information on 185 different countries. You can find anything from population to the level of carbon emission, from the average temperature to the GDP." Other nicely packaged resources include Country at a Glance, City Profiles and Global Trends. Try them all at http://www.un.org/Pubs/CyberSchoolBus/menureso.htm.

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Japanese Information Network
This flashy, government-sponsored site is intended to introduce its foreign readers to "the society, culture, and other aspects of Japan." The statistics page provides direct links to government agencies and other sources providing numeric data on categories ranging from the census to the economy to labor and education. Point your browser to http://www.jinjapan.org/stat .

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CRFilter
A researcher at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has created a new resource for people interested in following US legislative action on particular topics. The Congressional Record Filter Service (http://ils.unc.edu/crfilter) is a Web-based information filter for the US Congressional Record text via the Library of Congress' THOMAS search engine. CRFilter creates a personalized search page for THOMAS, so that users can periodically check to see the latest developments in their areas of interest as well as search the CR back to 1993. Privacy is assured for participants, but a five-minute survey is required, which informs a study of filtering usage.

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Historical Census Data, 1790-1860
Harvard University, with ICPSR, has put historical US Census data, 1790-1860, on the Internet. Data are available for any county in most states during this time period. The database can be searched by geographic units, years and variables. However, the subjects covered by each census vary. For example, the total number of churches is available from 1860 only. The site is located at http://icg.fas.harvard.edu/census/ . UW users who want access to the raw dataset produced by ICPSR may order it from DPLS staff.

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Finding Electronic Academic Discussion Groups
The Directory of Scholarly and Professional E-Conferences by Diane Kovaks, is the most authoritative online reference source for discussion lists "on topics of interest to scholars and professionals for use in their scholarly, pedagological and professional activities." Electronic discussions using any of the common Internet applications--email, Usenet news readers, telnet, gopher, or WWW--are included. Users may search by keyword, combine terms with boolean operators, or browse alphabetically or by subject. A print counterpart is published by the Association of Research Libraries. See http://www.n2h2.com/KOVACS/whatis.html.

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End of March 1998 Newsletter.