DPLS News, September 2005

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, Special Librarian
Contributors: Lu Chou, Senior Special Librarian, & Cindy Severt, Senior Special Librarian


September 2005
(Visit our PDF edition as well!)


Table of Contents
Many Avenues to CPS Data
DPLS Studies in BADGIR
“Haste Ye Back!!” A Recap
of IASSIST 2005

NLS Web-Investigator

Crossroads Corner

International Shark Attack File
National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) Online
U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants (Greenbook)
CrimeStat III



Many Avenues to CPS Data
by Joanne Juhnke

Type "CPS" into an online acronym dictionary, and you’ll get everything from Child Protective Services, to Chicago Public Schools, to Canadian Pediatric Society. But ask a data librarian, and you'll learn about the Current Population Survey, the pre-eminent source for national labor statistics in the United States, jointly sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The core of the CPS is the basic monthly survey, conducted using a nationwide sample of 60,000 households. The basic survey provides a monthly snapshot of the employment and unemployment situation in the United States, broken down by variables such as age, race, and sex.

The CPS also includes topic-specific supplements that are asked once a year or less. The most prominent of the supplements is the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC), conducted in March each year and formerly known as the Annual Demographic Survey. The ASEC includes questions on work experience, income sources, household composition, and health insurance coverage.

The list of topic-specific supplements is long, but some of the major ones cover school enrollment (annual, in October); voting and registration (biennial, in November of election years); displaced workers and job tenure (biennial); veterans (biennial); and food security (irregular schedule).

The CPS is a complex survey, with many changes over the years and a hierarchical structure including records for households, families and persons. To add to the maze, CPS data files can be obtained from different distributors who use different interfaces to help users organize and analyze the data.

DataFerrett: basic monthly CPS and supplements
http://www.thedataweb.org/index.html
This downloadable data-extraction program lets users extract variables from CPS surveys without having to download the entire file. DataFerrett gives you access to the latest CPS data, both basic monthly surveys (back to 1989) and supplements. DataFerrett is available for use at DPLS, or can be downloaded to your own workstation. Free registration is required for downloading.

CPS Utilities: March and October Supplements only
On CD-ROM at DPLS
The CPS Utilities program allows users to extract variables across multiple years of a CPS supplement. DPLS has CPS Utilities for the March Supplement (Annual Social & Economic) from 1962 to 2003, and the October Supplement (Education & School Enrollment) from 1968 to 1999.

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER): basic monthly CPS and supplements
http://www.nber.org/cps/
For those who want to download full CPS files, NBER maintains a well-organized online collection. The basic monthly files are available from 1976 to the present, with SPSS, SAS, and Stata programs to go with files from 1989 on. NBER also has many of the supplements from 1964 on, with programs to accompany some of the files starting in 1989.

IPUMS-CPS: subset of March supplement only
https://beta.ipums.org/cps/
IPUMS-CPS takes March supplement data from 1962 to 2003 and harmonizes it to allow users to create and download extracts across multiple years. The harmonized data is a subset of the full March supplement, but is also harmonized with US Census data from IPUMS. Free registration is required, and the site has been identified for several years as a beta version.

CPS data files are also available directly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.census.gov/cps_ftp.html); from the ICPSR archive at University of Michigan (enter a search at http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/); and from the DPLS collection on CD-ROM (enter a search at http://dpls.dacc.wisc.edu/newcatalog/index.asp). DPLS librarians will be happy to help you sort through the options!

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DPLS Studies in BADGIR
by Lu Chou

In the April 2004 issue of DPLS News, we reported that DPLS had joined a Social Science Nesstar consortium organized by Dr. Janet Eisenhauer Smith at the Center for Demography of Health & Aging (CDHA). Now we are pleased to announce that 17 of our archival studies have been added to BADGIR, the consortium’s catalog, http://nesstar.ssc.wisc.edu/index.html. Within BADGIR, users can browse or search data documentation including metadata and codebooks and summary statistics like mean, variance and frequency counts. Registered users can also create cross-tabulations that can be downloaded in Microsoft Excel format, and perform regression analyses. (Be sure to register in advance of attempting analysis; registrations are reviewed by CDHA staff rather than instantaneously machine-approved.) Registered users can perform more sophisticated multivariate analyses and create customized datasets to be downloaded and imported into a variety of statistical packages such as SPSS, SAS, and Stata.

Two major UW-Madison social science studies, National Survey of Families and Households and the Survey of Health, Well-being and Aging in Latin America (SABE), are also available in BADGIR through the Nesstar Suite web publishing tool. This tool allows us to offer a web interface for our datasets so users can focus on the statistical contents without having to encounter the primitive side of the original raw data. DPLS staff will be happy to assist any local social science data producers to convert their data files to Nesstar format and disseminate them via the Internet. With Nesstar, DPLS can take care of the mechanics of building the interface to your data, and leave the work of data analysis to your users. Nesstar can also be set to enforce access restrictions in situations where data sensitivity is of concern. If you are interested in learning more about Nesstar Suite and the BADGIR catalog, please contact Lu Chou at cchou2@wisc.edu.


Table of contents

"Haste Ye Back!!" A Recap of IASSIST 2005
by Cindy Severt

DPLS is very fortunate to be able to maintain a tradition of participation and leadership in the International Association for Social Science, Information, Service, & Technology (IASSIST), and 2005’s annual conference was no exception. Following in the footsteps of 2004’s successful conference which DPLS hosted at the Pyle Center, the 2005 conference titled Evidence and Enlightenment took place this past May in Edinburgh in collaboration with the International Federation of Data Organizations (IFDO), a move which dramatically increased the attendance of global delegates.

Included in the four days of workshops, plenaries, sessions, and social events, was a session titled "Discovering a Profession: The Accidental Data Librarian." Conceived and chaired by DPLS librarian Cindy Severt, the session addressed the concerns of the ever-growing ranks of new members embarking on careers that will determine the course of data access, documentation, and preservation in the 21st century. The panel of five speakers ranged from new professionals without library or data backgrounds charged with establishing data services for their institution; to seasoned professionals who played a part in accidentally, yet strategically strengthening the relationship between official statistical agencies and universities.

photo of the Accidental Librarian panelists

Accidental Librarians, left to right: Luis Martinez, London School of Economics Data Library; Stuart MacDonald, Edinburgh University Data Library; Jeffrey Bullington, University of Kansas Data Services; Tiffani Conner, University of Connecticut Homer Babbidge Library; Paul Bern, Syracuse University Numeric Data Services; and Cindy Severt, DPLS

The week's proceedings culminated with a piquant after-banquet speech given by Derek Law, Librarian and Head of Information Resources Directorate, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. His pithy, witty (and quintessentially Scottish) observations can be found at http://www.iassistdata.org/conferences/2005/presentations/Law-afterdinnerspeech.pdf. Multimedia presentations for the 2005 conference can be found at http://www.iassistdata.org/conferences/2005/presentations/.

IASSIST 2006 is scheduled for May 22-26 in Ann Arbor, and DPLS will once again play a role by serving on the Program Committee.

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NLS Web-Investigator
by Lu Chou

The Center for Human Resource Research (CHRR) at Ohio State University has expanded its Web-Investigator web-based interface at http://www.nlsinfo.org/web-investigator/index.php to include all the cohorts of the National Longitudinal Study (NLS).

Like its predecessor, CHRR DB-Investigator, Web-Investigator allows users to search the database by variable name, question text, survey year and question number. Users can view the codebook information associated with variables, select and extract variables, and create a codebook unique to the variables chosen. A new feature of Web-Investigator provides value labels in the statistical results files. A weighting program option lets users create a custom set of survey weights, making it easier to accurately calculate summary statistics from multiple years of data.

Online documentation includes survey instruments and additional supplements from various survey years, as well as errata, user guides, and technical reports.

This web interface allows registered users to perform variable extractions without downloading any software or full data files. Because the data is located on the CHRR server, users are always working with the most up-to-date data, so any necessary corrections to data errors are immediate and universal. Users can update and save their tag sets on the server for up to 90 days. Result files can be saved to a local computer or left in a personal NLS Web-Investigator account for up to 4 days.

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Crossroads Corner
by Joanne Juhnke

Crossroads Corner highlights web sites recently added to the searchable Internet Crossroads in Social Science Data on the DPLS web site.

International Shark Attack File

From the Florida Museum of Natural History and the American Elasmobranch Society comes the myth-busting International Shark Attack File (ISAF) web site, at http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/sharks/ISAF/ISAF.htm. The site is the online face for an ongoing compilation of over 4000 shark attack investigations, from the mid-1500s to the present. Visitors will find maps, graphs, and HTML tables of shark attack numbers, along with articles putting shark attacks into perspective. The site also provides ordering information for publications and a database compiled of early case-histories from the ISAF.

National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) Online

How many injuries do consumer products cause? The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission undertakes to answer the question by collecting emergency-room data from a nationwide probability sample of about 100 hospitals, through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System program (NEISS). Visitors to the NEISS web site at http://www.cpsc.gov/library/neiss.html can access the resulting reports and estimates since 1991, for up to a year at a time.

The online database includes information about the person (sex, age); the product or product category; the injury (diagnosis, body part, hospital admission); and the locale in which the injury occurred (such as home, school, or farm). The results screen lists both the reported cases and the national estimates when available. Users may peruse the cases online or download them in a text file. SAS programs for formatting data and calculating estimates are also available for download.

U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants (Greenbook)

Though the name sounds vaguely environmental, the Greenbook is actually an annual report of United States foreign aid back to 1946, published by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The most recent edition, from 2003, is online in database format at http://qesdb.cdie.org/gbk/, and as a PDF document at http://www.dec.org/pdf_docs/PNADA800.pdf. The database was recently updated to allow users to retrieve tables either in historical or constant dollars. Drop-down query menus allow users to select countries, programs and years, resulting in HTML table displays that can be downloaded as CSV or RTF. An extra-detailed report is available for programs and accounts for the latest two years, 2002 and 2003.

CrimeStat III

Now with its own section on the ICPSR web site at http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/CRIMESTAT/, the CrimeStat crime-mapping software is now in its third version. CrimeStat III is a Windows-based spatial statistics program, sponsored by the National Institute of Justice and used by police departments and researchers to analyze crime incident locations. CrimeStat III allows for spatial distribution analysis, distance analysis, space-time analysis, journey to crime analysis, and crime travel demand modeling. The CrimeStat download is accompanied by sample datasets and a user manual.

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