DPLS News, November 2000

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

DPLS News contains articles about local, national, and international data issues.
It is published twice a semester by the library staff.

Editor: Joanne Juhnke, Associate Special Librarian
Contributors:
Lu Chou, Special Librarian & Cindy Severt, Senior Special Librarian

November 2000


Table of Contents

Metropolitan Area Standards in Review
ESRC Seeking Input on Data Issues
New NLS CD-ROMs
GSS Student Paper Competition
Researcher's Notes
APDU Recap
Datastream Interfaces
DPLS Holiday Closings

Internet Corner
     Voter Turnout from 1945 to Date
     Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) - Syracuse University
     International Federation of Stock Exchanges (FIBV): Statistics
     STAT-USA/Internet Subscription


Metropolitan Area Standards in Review

It happened in 1958, 1971, 1975, 1980, 1990, and is happening again in 2000: the standards for metropolitan areas, as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), are under review. In recent decades the revision of the standards have coincided with the release of decennial Census data. The 2000 standards will be released in December.

First developed in the 1940s, the concept of "metropolitan areas" provides a standard way to define, for statistical purposes, large centers of population and activity. The general concept of a metropolitan area is a large population nucleus and adjacent communities that are highly integrated with that nucleus.

The proposed standards for 2000 include some new terms, including Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) comprising two categories: metropolitan areas based on urbanized areas of 50,000 or more, and micropolitan areas based around an urban cluster of 10,000 to 49,999 population. The previous lower limit was the 50,000. Other features include combining of some areas and separating of others.

The consequences of the proposed revisions can be felt in the "real world." For example, there is concern in Los Angeles and Orange County that the new standards will combine previously separate statistical entities, and blur the regions' distinctions. The Census Bureau web site links to the latest recommendations at http://www.census.gov/population/www/estimates/masrp.html.

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ESRC Seeking Input on Data Issues

In the United Kingdom, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) plays a major role in social and economic research and data. The ESRC is a leading funding agency for social science research, and also facilitates access to social science datasets though archive facilities such as the UK Data Archive at the University of Essex (http://www.data-archive.ac.uk/), and Qualidata (http://www.essex.ac.uk/qualidata/), a qualitative data archive.

This fall the ESRC commissioned a consultation exercise on data policy and data archiving in the UK. The purpose of the project is to inform future strategy on data policy, data storage, and data access for social and economic research in the UK over the next ten years.

As part of the project, the ESRC is seeking input from across the economic and social research community, both nationally and internationally. They have provided an initial consultation paper to outline the data issues such as scope and nature of holdings, models of storage and distribution, government data, and funding issues. Visitors are asked to respond via an online questionnaire.

The consultation paper and questionnaire are available at http://www.ilrt.bris.ac.uk/ubris/esrc/. Participants are eligible to enter a drawing for a gift voucher from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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New NLS CD-ROMs

DPLS has acquired three new CD-ROMs from the National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS):

  • 1998 survey results for Children and Young Adults of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79), profiling the development and achievement of children of the mothers in the NLSY79 cohort.
  • 1997 survey results for Mature Women and Young Women of the original NLS cohort. The survey includes a module on money and time transfers from daughters to mothers.
  • The second round of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97). Both rounds of survey data, designed to document the transition from school to work and into adulthood, are included.

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GSS Student Paper Competition

The seventh annual General Social Survey (GSS) student paper competition for graduate and undergraduate students is underway. Papers must be based on data from the 1972-1998 GSS or the International Social Survey Program. Winners receive a cash prize of $250, a commemorative plaque, and SPSS software. Entries are due by February 15, 2001. For more complete contest rules and information, see http://www.norc.uchicago.edu/gss/student.htm.

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Researcher's Notes
by Eric Grodsky

As a new instructor for Sociology 360 (Statistics for Sociologists I), I had the opportunity to teach a class which, unfortunately, almost none of the enrolled students would have taken by choice. One of my strategies in this situation has been to draw heavily on empirical examples I think will interest them. At the beginning of the semester, I asked each student to choose several interesting topics in the field of sociology. I then made it an instructional goal to use examples from those areas wherever I could.

DPLS has been an extraordinary resource in this effort. With the help of DPLS librarians, I have been able to acquire data and documentation for several areas with which I was previously unfamiliar. One such example involved information on drug use. Cindy Severt suggested Monitoring the Future, a survey which has been repeated several times. The 1992 codebook was available in hard copy in the library, and Cindy downloaded the data for me from ICPSR. I have used the data to demonstrate ordinal and nominal distributions, and most recently to advance in class what I termed the "Nancy Reagan Hypothesis"--that smoking cigarettes leads to LSD use. This set up a good discussion of association versus causation in tabular analyses.

With assistance from DPLS, I have also become more familiar with the National Health Interview Survey, the Survey of Income and Program Participation, and the General Social Survey. Via the DPLS web page, I have found graphs and summary statistics online from a variety of federal agencies.

I think that the course has been greatly enhanced by the resources I have accessed through DPLS. Without those resources, we would probably talk much less about social science and much more about batting averages, card games, and tossing coins.

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APDU Recap

In October DPLS was represented by Cindy Severt at the Association of Public Data Users (APDU) conference in Washington, DC. As APDU convened for the 25th time, several important points emerged:

  • Some issues, such as confidentiality, remain the same. According to a story related during a panel session, Americans object to surveillance cameras capturing their license plates as a method of random selection, but they do not object to surveillance cameras being used to issue speeding violations.

  • Some issues, such as e-commerce, are new. What exactly is electronic commerce? How fast is it growing? How does it affect the way business is conducted? How can it be measured? One definition of e-commerce is "any transaction conducted over computer-mediated network channels that transfers ownership of, or rights to use goods or services."

  • Value-added software is providing improved access to public data so that the lay person can more easily use complicated data, but, apart from a few working groups, there seems to be a diminishing dialogue between data producers and data users regarding content and wording of survey questions.

  • The Census Bureau will be issuing its full-run products on DVD (digital video disk), and plans to customize an off-the-shelf software application, Allocate, for use with the 2000 summary files. The DVD format will at times complement and at times replace the CD-ROM format for distributing 2000 Census products.

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Datastream Interfaces

Since 1997 DPLS has cooperated with the Business School Library to subscribe to Datastream, an online economic and financial database located in London. This summer we added a new user interface, called Advance Version 2 for Windows, to the two interfaces already at DPLS.

  • Advance Version 2 provides a user-friendly option for retrieving data as time series, graphs and reports. However, it limits the number of downloads to 10 time series, for 1 or 2 graphs and reports.

  • The DSDDE interface is a Microsoft Excel Plugin that allows downloading of up to 3,650 datapoints in spreadsheet format, for any combination between 10 codes and 1 datatype or 1 code and 10 datatypes.

  • The complex DSWindows interface allows downloading of large amounts of data. Users can customize reports, get a lot of background information on time series, and use macros to automate repetitive tasks.

To access any of the three interfaces on DPLS public-use PCs: Go to Start menu, Programs, then DSWindows, and choose one of the three options.

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DPLS Holiday Closings

Happy Holidays! DPLS will be CLOSED:

 

  • Thu./Fri. Nov. 23 & 24, for Thanksgiving.
  • Mon./Tue. Dec. 25 & 26, for Christmas.
  • Mon. Jan. 1, New Years Day.

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 Internet Corner

Voter Turnout from 1945 to Date

Given the razor-thin margins of the 2000 U.S. presidential election, this web site on international voter turnout from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) is particularly timely. The site presents voter turnout figures for 171 independent states, covering national presidential and parliamentary elections since 1945. Year, total vote, registration, turnout percentages, and population size are included for each election. The site also provides an overview report called "Voter Turnout: A Global Survey."

The IDEA Voter Turnout site may be reached at http://www.idea.int/voter_turnout/index.html. The broader IDEA site is available at http://www.idea.int/.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) - Syracuse University

The TRAC site at Syracuse University bills itself as "your source for comprehensive, independent and nonpartisan information on federal law enforcement." The site features maps, graphs, and many pages of tables and other supporting material. Data extracts for downloading are available for a fee.

Sections of the TRAC web site describe the enforcement activities and staffing patterns of the FBI; the IRS; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the INS; and the U.S. Customs Service. Each section includes a helpful overview called "National Profile and Trends Over Time" as well as district-by-district enforcement information.

Visit the TRAC site at http://trac.syr.edu/.

 

International Federation of Stock Exchanges (FIBV): Statistics

The International Federation of Stock Exchanges (abbreviated FIBV from the French) is a trade organization representing 54 member stock exchanges worldwide.

The FIBV web site includes an impressive array of summary statistics about its member exchanges, presented as Excel files. Statistics are grouped into Annual (for 1999), Monthly (through the current year, current within one month), and Time series (1990-1999). Categories of data reported across member exchanges include equity market, bond market, market indicators, parallel markets, emerging markets, and derivatives markets.

The FIBV Statistics page is available at http://www.fibv.com/statistics.asp.


STAT-USA/Internet Subscription

DPLS has a single-user subscription to STAT-USA/Internet, a product of the Economic and Statistics Administration of U.S. Department of Commerce that provides users with current business, trade and economic information. Information is organized into two main areas. "State of the Nation" covers current and historical economic and financial news releases and economic data. "GLOBUS & NTDB" contains current and historical trade-related news releases, international market research, trade opportunities and country analysis.

The URL for STAT-USA is http://www.stat-usa.gov/; stop by DPLS and a staff member will help log you in on our public workstations.

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