DPLS News, October 1996

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

October 1996

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Surfin' DPLS!

H T T P : / / d p l s . d a c c . w i s c . e d u

It is hard not to be overwhelmed by the Web these days--even billboards on the street carry a URL (Universal Resource Locator) address inviting readers to check out what's hot and what's cool. Commercialization has made its mark on the Internet, as every brand name now carries its own web site offering freebies, contests, and sales.

We want to remind our library users that the DPLS staff has been working steadily to keep its own web site up-to-date and chock full of content most relevant to social science research. We invite you to take a look, keep bookmarks of useful pages, and send us feedback if you think we're missing something important. The main highlights:

This page tells you everything you wanted to know about . . . well, the DPLS! It points to our new Library Profile, staff home pages, special topic web pages developed for presentations, our FY-96 Annual Report in hypertext, and Website Usage Statistics.

Our pride `n joy: the Online Archival Repository is where the public can gain access to studies archived and distributed by the DPLS, such as the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program data; the Wisconsin Basic Needs Study; even the Roll of Emigrants to the Colony of Liberia Sent by the American Colonization Society, 1820-1843. Currently there are eight studies on the site for downloading, and more to come this year.

That's right--our entire catalog of dataset holdings on the web. Users can browse by broad subject heading; search by title or principal investigator; view a complete citation with abstract; link to the ICPSR (Inter- university Consortium for Political and Social Research) site to find more available data; even view codebook text online for several studies. Or, come down to the DPLS and ask a librarian to do a search for you!

Look no further than the Internet Crossroads in the Social Sciences page for terrific data sources "out there somewhere": Here we strive to provide links to the most relevant informational sources as well as sites that offer datasets to download or extract. Pointers are annotated and grouped by source and topic. Of course, we have our limitations, so please send us your favorite data-related URLS at disc@mailplus.wisc.edu.

Here you'll find back issues of DPLS News, bibliographies, and user guides. Also, check our `What's New' page for new additions.

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New DACC Director

Over the summer, Professor Kenneth Mayer became the new Faculty Director of the Data and Computation Center (DACC), the parent organization of the DPLS. We asked him some questions for our readers.

Q. You are an Associate Professor in the Political Science Department. Would you tell us your educational background?

A. I received my Ph.D. in 1988 from Yale University. Before coming to Wisconsin in the summer of 1989, I spent a year working for the RAND Corporation. During my undergraduate years, I minored in applied mathematics at UC San Diego, and learned to program computers on an old Burroughs machine using an IBM keypunch and card-reader.

Q. And what are your current research interests?

A. My main scholarly interests are the Presidency, Congress, and U.S. defense policy. I'm currently writing a book on the statutory and constitutional foundations of presidential authority. I'm also very interested in making use of computer technology in teaching (I put together my own web page, at http://www.polisci.wisc.edu/~kmayer).

Q. What kinds of issues do you see on the horizon for DACC?

A. The big issue is how we will adapt to continuing changes in computer technology. Hardware and software are changing so fast that it's hard to envision where we'll be in five years, but I want to make sure we have an idea of where we want to go. In addition, as more data becomes available on the Internet as opposed to magnetic tapes and paper, the way people use the DPLS will change. The DPLS and the SSML provide very important services to the University community, and my goal is to make sure that we continue to do so.

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Selected Recent Acquisitions

Civil Justice Survey of State Courts, 1992 [United States] [CD-ROM version] (GA-028-001)

Current Population Survey Utilities (March 1964-1995) and Outgoing Rotation Group Annual Earnings File [CD-ROM version] (AH-004-038 and AH-005-093)

Health and Well-being of Older Adults Data on CD-ROM (SA-028-002 and etc.)

International Social Justice Project, 1991 (SA-522-001)

Wisconsin Children, Incomes and Program participation survey (CHIPPS) of 1985 (CA-049-001)

Wisconsin Basic Needs Study, 1981-1982 (CA-007-001)

Insurer Study of Auto Injury Closed Claims, 1977, 1987, 1992 [CD-ROM version] (CB-056-001 ~ CB-056-003)

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Handy "Census CD"

This CD-ROM from Geolytics, Inc. contains data from Summary Tape Files (STF) 3, of the 1990 Census of Population and Housing. Its geographic areas include nation, regions, divisions, states, counties, tracts, block numbering area (BNA), block groups, MCD, census places (cities and towns), MSA, PMSA, Zip-codes (1992), 104th congressional districts, urban areas, American Indian areas, and Alaskan native regional councils. Summary statistics are available for topics on persons, families, households, race, language, occupation, education, income, poverty, and housing.The graphical interface allows users to select topics, then specific variables, for any areas, and output the reports to ASCII files or D-Base files. (DPLS: AC-021-001).

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Upcoming Classes at SSML

* Intro. to the SSML Computer Classroom
Sept. 30 OR Oct. 3, 3:30 - 4:30

* Intro. to SAS 6.11 for Windows
Oct. 7 & Oct. 9, 3:30 to 5 (2 sessions)

* Intro. to SPSS 6.1 for Windows
Oct. 21 & Oct. 23, 3:30 to 5 (2 sessions)

* A Practical Comparison of SAS vs. SPSS
Nov 6, 3:30 to 5

* Managing & Analyzing Large Data Sets
Nov.18 & Nov. 20 3:00 - 4:30 (2 classes)

More info. at the Microlab or URL:
Email to denelson@facstaff.wisc.edu.

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ICPSR Guide 1996-97

The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research has announced that it will only distribute two printed catalogs per member institution as a cost-cutting measure. This means that the DPLS will no longer be able to distribute ICPSR catalogs to individual faculty, departments or campus libraries. We recommend using the ICPSR WWW site (http://www.icpsr.umich.edu) to locate specific datasets in their holdings. By giving DPLS staff the four digit ICPSR number, campus users can order any ICPSR dataset for academic use. To order a print copy of the ICPSR Guide ($10 for UW-Madison users), contact ICPSR

- via email: netmail@icpsr.umich.edu
- via fax: 313-764-8041, (phone: 764-2570)
- via mail: ICPSR, P.O. Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248.

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Researcher's Notes

by Paul Martin

Under the direction of Professor Charles Franklin, the Department of Political Science has undertaken the Political Numbers Project. We want to teach students to understand the meaning of quantitative information, to be able to use it to tell a story and reach conclusions based on the information. To accomplish this goal we have worked diligently collecting, analyzing, and documenting hundreds of small data sets packed with political information. DPLS has been an extraordinary resource for this project and those working at DPLS have welcomed the idea of translating research materials into teaching materials. The culmination of this project will be a new course: Political Science 218, Understanding Political Numbers. This course will draw on both current events data and some of the most well known classic studies of Political Science to introduce students to the world of quantitative Political Science. The support of DPLS has been critical to the progress of this project and we encourage others to take advantage of the research materials available through DPLS to bring teaching and research together.

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APDU Conference `96

The Association of Public Data Users will be holding its 21st annual conference Oct. 28- 30, in Washington, D.C. The theme will be *Addressing Critical Issues Facing the Data User Community.: The keynote speaker will be William Butz, Director, Division of Social, Behavioral and Economic Research, National Science Foundation. Concerns addressed will include changing roles of government, standards, influencing technological change, and public policy. For more info: http://mrdc.lib.umn.edu/~apdu96.

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GSS Data and Information Retrieval System

Finally the General Social Survey is available in its entirety online! GSSDIRS is equipped with search engine, online codebook, subject and module indices, searchable bibliography, reports, trend tables, discussion forum, and interactive extraction of the cumulative data file (1972-94). The main site lives at http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/gss/. The Extract/Analysis option points to two sites. The ICPSR site allows full downloading of the data and codebook files; online statistics (descriptives, frequencies, or cross-tabs); or fast online subsetting to plain ascii or portable SPSS format. (Hint: include a space after every variable name, even before a carriage return, and do not type more than 72 characters per line.) Currently the UC-Berkeley site (Computer- assisted Survey Methods Program), supports descriptive statistics only, but in the future will allow online extractions with case filtering and SPSS or SAS data definitions.

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Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) Data

The Right to Know Network (RTK Net) is a non-profit organization formed "to empower citizen involvement in community and government decision-making." In that spirit, the group has selected key government databases, such as HMDA records from HUD and the Superfund sites from EPA, and put them online in accessible format. The HMDA was enacted in part "to assist in identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscriminaton statutes. The user can choose a universe of geographic area, bank, or market, select options from a form, and output raw data. http://rtk.net/www/data/hmda_gen.html

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Geographic Correspondence Engine (Geocorr)

CIESIN, the non-profit Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network has added another significant contribution to the research community through its Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). Now up and running is an interactive database which allows researchers to input source geographic units, and receive equivalent target units to provide correlation, or crosswalk tables. Any geographic unit specified in the 1990 Census, from nation down to block level, plus special designated areas such as Congressional Districts, zip codes, and PUMAs from the Public-Use Microdata Samples may be used as either source or target geocodes. The user may choose to weight the correlation by either population, housing unit counts or land area, depending on the subject.

The gigantic database that underlies this operation is called MABLE--Master Area Block Level Equivalency file. MABLE contains nearly seven million block-level entries--the smallest Census unit, used as the `atoms' to build up the equivalency files. One problem with using blocks as the basic unit is that areas denoting bodies of water may be distorted, due to Census procedures. The URL is: http://www.census.gov/plue/geocorr/. A mirror site is located at http://www.oseda.missouri.edu/plue/geocorr/.

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Social Security Death Index (SSDI)

This index contains data from the Death Master File (DMF) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). It has over 50 million records of decedents created from SSA payment records. Fields include last name, first name, state issued social security num- ber, birth data, death date, last residence and lump sum payment. Records may be searched by last name or place name. Point your Web browser to http://www.ancestry.com/ssdi/advanced.htm.

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End of October 1996 Newsletter.