DPLS News, September 2002

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, Senior Special Librarian, Jay Dougherty, Library Assistant, & Cindy Severt, Senior Special Librarian


September 2002


Table of Contents

A Question of Race
New Studies at DPLS
DPLS Staff News
Addition to DPLS On-Line Archive
IASSIST 2002
Data Quality Act, Greater Accuracy or Reduced Access?

Internet Corner

Measuring America: the Decennial Censuses from 1790-2000
Data Query
Global Forest Watch
Area Resource File



A Question of Race

It’s a demographic survey staple: right after the questions about age and sex, the question about racial origin. However, unlike the first two, the “race question” is anything but cut-and-dried.
A recent initiative by University of California regent Ward Connerly has brought the issue into the spotlight again, less than a year after Census 2000 redistricting results were released. Connerly has proposed a “Racial Privacy Initiative” that would ban the state of California from collecting racial data, with certain exemptions for health and criminal justice agencies.

Academic researchers at California’s universities are among those concerned, not only that data currently collected by the state would become unavailable, but that their own research done under university auspices would be curtailed. The initiative will not appear on the November 2002 ballot due to inadequate verification of signatures, but will likely be put to the voters in March 2004.

Connerly’s proposal comes on the heels of the newly-configured racial data collected by the 2000 Census. In response to a movement in favor of adding a “multi-racial” category to the census questionnaire, the Census Bureau instead provided the option of checking more than one category. While the census has collected data on race since its inception in 1790, respondents have been allowed to self-identify only since 1970. The 2000 Census was the first time that respondents could identify with multiple races.
A number of civil rights groups put considerable effort into encouraging people who identify with minority races to check only a single box, anticipating that checking multiple boxes might cause losses in how their groups were counted. Whether or not such efforts affected the responses, 2.4% of respondents (6.8 million) did in fact claim more than one racial identity. Ninety-three percent of those reported exactly two.
The American Sociological Association (ASA) issued a statement in August in response to these and other public debates on race. Their statement called for government agencies and academic researchers to continue collection of data on race and ethnicity. Such data makes it possible to identify and respond to such issues as discrimination and stratification in health, housing, and education.

The ASA committee also considered, and accepted, the Human Genome Project’s declaration that race is not a biologically valid concept. However, the statement argues that race is definitely worthy of sociological study since people do in fact attribute racial identity and act on that basis.

With biology and attribution pointing in opposite directions, we can count on an ongoing debate as to whether race counts, and how to account for it.

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New Studies at DPLS

· American National Election Studies cumulative data file, 1948-2000.
· Current Population Survey, October person-household files, 1968-2000.
· Current Population Survey, October uniform files, 1968-2000.
· International Social Survey Program: Social Inequality III, 1999 [CD-ROM version].
· Marriage and Divorce Data, 1989-1995 [National Center for Health Statistics].
· National Education Longitudinal Study, 1988: base year through fourth follow-up [1988-2000].
· National Household Sample Survey, 1998 [Brazil]: public use file.
· National Longitudinal Surveys of Labor Market Experience, Youth Cohort: 1979-2000 [main file and work history data].
· Welfare, Children and Families: A Three-city Study, Wave 1, 1999.
· World Development Indicators, 2002.
· Field California Polls, 1999-2001.
· Terrorism Reaction Poll # 2 [September 14-15, 2001].
· Terrorism Reaction Poll # 3 [September 21-22, 2001].

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DPLS Staff News

Please join us in welcoming our new student Systems Administrator, Josh Saunders. A junior majoring in Electrical Engineering, Josh recently completed the DoIT Student Technical Training Program, an intensive training curriculum designed to give students the technical and customer service skills to support information technology within UW-Madison campus departments. Upon completion of his Bachelor’s degree Josh plans to go into computer architecture, but, continuing the fine DPLS tradition of having outside interests, he would eventually like to own a restaurant and nightclub!

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Addition to DPLS On-Line Archive

With the recent controversy surrounding the Catholic Church, many Catholics as well as non-Catholics are wondering about the social values and attitudes of priests toward Catholic doctrine and its relation to the outside world. The American Catholic Priesthood Survey, 1971, now available on the DPLS web site, reflects the outlook of priests and resignee priests regarding social policy of the Catholic Church thirty years ago. Conducted six years after the Catholic Church’s groundbreaking Vatican II council (1963-1965), which deeply affected the church’s social outlook, the survey provides a snapshot of attitudes in the priesthood at that watershed time.

The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) conducted the survey at the commission of the U.S. Bishops. Five thousand active priests completed the survey, while a slightly amended form was given to 1,000 priests who had resigned or taken an absence from the priesthood.

The study was first released to the public in June 1996. Users can view the documentation and codebooks as PDF files and download the data at http://dpls.dacc.wisc.edu/catholic/.

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IASSIST 2002

The International Association for Social Science Information Service & Technology (IASSIST) annual conference for 2002 was held in June at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. The conference theme was Accelerating Access, Collaboration & Dissemination. With the help of a scholarship from the Multitype Advisory Library Committee of the South Central Library System, Lu Chou from DPLS joined the 160 people from 12 countries in attendance.

Many important issues were discussed during the three-day conference. In the plenary session, “An International Perspective on Confidentiality and Access to Governmentally Produced Social Science Data,” speakers from the U.S. Census Bureau and Statistics Canada raised the issue of balance between providing easy access to government data and protecting respondents’ identities. Dr. Tom W. Smith from the National Opinion Research Center emphasized the importance of preserving social science data by sharing a real story about finding and recovering the 1963 Kennedy Assassination Study. The Roper Center and ICPSR invited researchers to re-examine the virtue of polls and media survey datasets, which can provide timely public opinion data and present rich resources for analyzing social trends.

At this year’s poster session, the Roper Center unveiled new features for their iPoll Viewer. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) demonstrated an online search and retrieval utility. The new Davidson Data Center and Network project at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor focused on data in transition economies. Health Canada has built a dynamic user interface to disseminate Canadian health data from their web site. Several GIS products combined mapping capabilities with social science data. And in a well-received debut, the redesigned IASSIST web site made its appearance at http://www.iassistdata.org/.

DPLS will be hosting the IASSIST conference at the Pyle Center in May 2004. Stay tuned for more news as the conference nears!

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Data Quality Act, Greater Accuracy or Reduced Access?

Public Law 106-554, the Data Quality Act, goes into effect October 1, 2002. Designed to promote the accuracy of scientific information used by federal agencies, it requires agencies to post guidelines on their websites for ensuring the quality of the information and statistics they disseminate, “including administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency that does not comply with the guidelines.” (OMB draft Information Quality Guidelines, http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/iqg_draft_guidelines.pdf.) Under this law if an error were confirmed and not corrected, an agency would have to remove the information from its website.

In the wake of 9/11 many federal agencies were quick to remove from their websites information that was thought to be of interest to terrorists. These removals, combined with the Data Quality Act, appears to indicate a shift from government agency disclosure to a conservative information climate.

Even as the Data Quality Act goes into effect, the White House has launched an effort (HR 5215) to allow statistical agencies to share economic data. Under current law the Bureau of the Census, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics are prohibited from sharing economic data. Such segregation has resulted in anomalies and inconsistencies (not to mention redundancies) with regard to the data collected. The proposal aims to improve the accuracy of economic statistics, reduce the burden and cost of statistical programs, and safeguard confidentiality with a pan-agency disclosure policy. Can a National Statistical Office be far behind?

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Internet Corner

Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000

In this 149 page report, the Census Bureau traces the history of the census from the late 18th century to the turn of the millennium. The report provides questionnaires from each census and shows how the survey questions reveal gradual socio-economic change in America. There are also individual histories written for all 22 censuses that include the historical impact of each census and changes in the way the census was administered. Methodology for each census is also included. Note: DPLS has a print copy available in the library.

Measuring America is available at http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/pol02-ma.pdf.

Data Query

A small subset of the World Bank’s World Development Indicators is available for searching on-line via Data Query. 54 time series indicators for 207 countries and 18 groups spanning a 5 year period from 1996 to 2000 are available. Users have several options to display the data including by index, percentage change, and graphs. Users can also export the result in standard formats. Sources and definitions are also available. The full World Development Indicators on CD-ROM is available at DPLS.
The Data Query web site can be found at http://devdata.worldbank.org/data-query.

Global Forest Watch

The World Research Institute presents Global Forest Watch, a site dedicated exclusively to data regarding deforestation. The site includes a large data warehouse from which users can download up to 35 gigabytes of data. A free registration is required for data download.

Map-based analysis is also available for a number of countries and users can customize maps for Gabon, Cameroon, and Canada. Land-sat 7 satellite images of forests in Chile, Russia, and Canada can be purchased for a $50 fee.
Global Forest Watch is available at http://www.globalforestwatch.org/english/index.htm.

Area Resource File

The Area Resource File (ARF) is a database of over 6,000 variables related to health-care in the United States, specific to the county level. Variables included range from health facilities, health professions, measures of resource scarcity, health status, socio-economic characteristics of health care, and many others.
The ARF website provides a search engine to identify which variables are included for the years (1976-2000) covered by the data. The data itself, while not mounted on their web site, is available at DPLS for UW campus users.
The Area Resource File web site is located at http://www.arfsys.com/main.htm.

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