DPLS News, September 1995

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

December 1995

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Now that the semester is revving up, the DPLS staff would like to wish everyone a productive and happy academic year! In the hopes that the DPLS can play a role in fulfilling this wish, we'd like to mention some of the library services we offer to new and continuing students and faculty alike.

Holdings and Link to Consortium Data

The DPLS is a social science data library: we maintain about 2,000 numerical datasets made up of computer files and documentation, in a broad range of topics relevant to the social science disciplines. Our unique holdings are NOT listed in MadCat, the campus library online catalog. Stop in the library for an introduction to our holdings and to browse the print version of our library catalog. Or, search our holdings online via WiscINFO (see next section). The DPLS holds the campus membership to the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) too, which is the largest source of our current acquisi- tions.

Virtual (Online) Library

The DPLS has stepped quickly into the networked world of electronic information. We invite you to visit our World Wide Web server, which contains library publications and pointers to important data-related Internet sites. Using a Web browser (client) such as Mosaic or Netscape, enter the address: http://dpls.dacc. wisc.edu Explore, enjoy!

Another useful service that can be accessed from the desktop is the library's searchable database of holdings and other information on the campus gopher server, WiscINFO. From the root menu, choose Library Catalogs and Services (The Electronic Library), then Campus Libraries Information, UW-Madison Libraries/Centers:D -J, and Data and Program Library Service.

The DPLS also maintains an FTP (file transfer protocol) site, where datafiles can be mounted for individual users to download. This service is a product of our (gradual) technical evolution towards local hardware and data storage solutions and away from dependence on 9-track magnetic tapes and mainframe-based tape drives.

Local Data Archive

Many of the library's holdings are archival, and DPLS maintains the integrity of these datasets and distributes them at cost to off-campus requestors. Local researchers who have gathered unique data items can consult with library staff about archiving the data and preparing public-use versions.

CD-ROM Users' Workstation

As the data library has acquired more datasets in a CD-ROM format, their popularity has grown among our users. Some of the titles offer user-friendly extraction software. Time-slots for the workstation, a 486 PC with a speedy CD-ROM reader, may be reserved on a sign-up basis.

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Redefined Poverty Measure

The current official measure of poverty was developed by Mollie Orshansky over 30 years ago. It compares families' before-tax money income to a set of after-tax thresholds which are deemed outmoded and inadequate. The Committee on National Statistics' Panel on Poverty and Family Assistance (CNSTATP) has proposed a new poverty measure that more accurately reflects who is poor in America. Under the new poverty measure, CNSTATP found a larger share of the poverty population in working families and in families lacking health insurance and a smaller share of the poverty population in families receiving public assistance. The panel's report, "Measur- ing Poverty: a New Approach" is printed in the 1995 summer issue of Focus, available from the Institute for Research on Poverty, 3412 Social Science Building.

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GSS Student Paper Prize

The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) has announced the second annual General Social Survey student paper competition. Papers must: 1) be based on data from the 1972-1994 General Social Surveys or from the GSS' cross-national component, the Internation- al Social Survey Program, 2) represent original and unpublished work, and 3) be written by a student or students at an accredited college or university. The winners will receive a cash prize of $250, a commemorative plaque, and the MicroCase Analysis System. Two copies of each paper must be received by February 15, 1996. The winner will be announced in April of 1996. Send entries to Tom W. Smith, General Social Survey, National Opinion Research Center, 1155 East 60th St. Chicago, IL 60637.

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NLS Data Quality Research

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is interested in understanding and improving the quality of National Longitudinal Study data. Of particular interest is research which: 1) compares NLS data with those from other large datasets; 2) matches NLS data to administra- tive record information; 3) reviews responses for internal consistency; 4) identifies dilemmas related to variable creation procedures; or 5) examines person or item nonresponse, interview- er/mode/seam effects, or other longitudinal measurement error. Researchers who have conducted such studies are encouraged to send copies of their papers to Robert Moffitt, Brown University, Attn: NLS Data Quality Project, Dept. of Economics, Providence, RI 02912.

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Newest PSID Data Online

The Institute for Social Research (ISR) at University of Michigan has made the 1968-1992 Panel Study of Income Dynamics data and documentation available freely on the Internet. Users can download the public-use family files; the cumulative individuals file; their documentation files; and SPSS or SAS data definition statement files. The URL (Universal Resource Locator) is http ://www.umich.edu/~PSID/ / Soon, the PSID 1968-1992 data will be distributed on CD-ROM; the DPLS will acquire it when it becomes available. Since ISR has assured that their Homepage is the source for the most recent data releases, the DPLS encourages our users to acquire PSID data directly via the Internet. If you have any questions in accessing the PSID Homepage and downloading files, the data library staff is happy to help.

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Five Decades of Election Data

American National Election Studies (ANES) data from 1948 to 1994 have been assembled on one CD-ROM. It was made possible through a cooperative venture between the National Election Studies and ICPSR. This unique resource brings together: 22 biennial time-ser- ies data files; selected panel and longitudinal files; correspond- ing electronic documentation with full frequencies; ANES bibliography of data use; SAS and SPSS data definition statements; and the ANES Continuity Guide. It also provides special front-end software (DataBase Access) for use with the ANES 1952-1992 cumula- tive file, the 1992 pre- and post-election surveys, and the 1980 major panel file. DataBase Access allows users to extract subsets of variables, browse codebook entries of selected variables, extract subsets of cases, and generate raw data files for selected variables and cases with corresponding SAS or SPSS statements and codebook documentation for the extracted variables and dBase III-compatible files. DPLS has acquired this CD-ROM to provide our users with a wealth of election data. You may purchase your own copy for $30 dollars. Please contact the DPLS staff for details.

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Selected Recent Acquisitions

  • American National Election Study, 1994: Post-election Survey (KB-004-044)
  • International Financial Statistics, 1948-1995 [CD-ROM version, updated monthly] (CB-526-001)
  • National Medical Expenditure Survey, 1987: Health Insurance Plans Survey Data, Private Insurance Benefit Database and Linkage to Household Survey Policy-holders [Public Use Tape 16] (QG-015-028)
  • Practice Patterns of Young Physicians, 1991 (QG-032-002)
  • Small Business Benefits Study (SBBS), 1990: [Denver, Flint, Tampa, and Tucson] (QG-033-001)
  • Survey of Consumer Finances, 1983-1989 and 1992 (CA-037-008, CA-037-009)
  • World Values Survey, 1981-1984 and 1990-1993 (SA-517-002)

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Internet Corner

Health and Retirement Study

The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) Wave I public release data files are now available on the Internet. This is a national longitudinal study focusing on persons born between 1931 and 1941 to study their health, retirement, and economic status. The study is a joint project of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan and the National Institute on Aging. To access the data and other relevant information by World Wide Web, you can connect to the HRS Homepage by pointing your favorite web client to http: //www.umich.edu/~hrswww. Alternatively, the files are accessible via anonymous FTP (file transfer protocol) at ftp.psc.l- sa.umich.edu. Change to the/pub directory and get the file HRS for more information on retrieving the data files. If you decide to download the data for use, be sure to register according to directions.

More GSS News: Online Bibliography

An online searchable version of the 10th edition Annotated Bibliography of Papers using the General Social Surveys is now available from the Queens College Sociology Department webserver. GSS users can use it to review what has already been published. Searches cover any term in the database, including variable names. The web address is http://www.soc.qc.edu.

CIESIN, World Bank Team Up on Internet

The Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network is providing experimental Internet access to two major World Bank datasets: Social Indicators of Development, 1994 (SID) and Trends in Developing Economies, 1994(TIDE). The first can be reached at the web address http ://www.ciesin.org/IC/wbank/sid-home.html . The other is at http ://www.ciesin.org/IC/wbank/tde- home.html. While SID focuses on the social effects of economic development, with up to 94 indicators for more than 170 countries, TIDE provides concise reports on the economic condition of (most of) the World Bank's borrowing countries, with information gathered from national sources including bank staff commentaries.

Both datasets can be directly queried through a World Wide Web search interface. For example, clicking on search interface on the SID Homepage, brings you to a form in which you can select data by country, year, or social indicator. With a little more setup (downloading and installing a client), both datasets can also be queried using the CIESIN Gateway, developed for earth scientists to access large amounts of environmental data among parallel servers.

Newslink and Virtual Software Library

The following two items have less to do with data on the Internet, and more to do with personal computing services that are available on the Net. Online newspapers can not only save you 50 cents at the newsstand, but they offer the ability to search for keywords and look up "old" news. Newslink provides links to online newspapers, magazines, broadcasting and "special links." Eric K. Meyer, a founder, teaches journalism at Marquette. Point your web client to http ://www.newslink. org to check it out.

A valuable source for computer users trying to enhance their computing resources is the Virtual Software Library, offering quick or advanced search interfaces and FTP links to automatically download public domain software for various platforms and uses (of course games, too!): http: //vsl.cnet.com/

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End of September 1995 Newsletter