Hunter College > Social Sciences Lab > ICPSR Direct


The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) is the principal worldwide source for social-science-related data, which it gets from individual researchers or institutions who have chosen to offer their data for use by other researchers. Among datasets available from ICPSR are the Census Bureau surveys used for calculating unemployment rates and polling data used by the media during political campaigns.

ICPSR datasets are provided only in forms suitable for use by statistical applications such as SPSS, Stata, or SAS. In other words, none of these data can be viewed immediately as a table of statistics such as you would find in a library reference book. To get useful information from these data, you have to use a statistical application, in conjunction with the data's codebook, in order first to read in the data properly from the data file and then to analyze them. Hence, data from ICPSR is of no use unless you have some familiarity with statistical programs and have such a program installed on your computer.

Here is ICPSR's home page:

Using ICPSR Direct at Hunter and from Off-Campus computers

Hunter students, faculty, and staff can now download datasets directly from the ICPSR website, without having to go through the campus ICPSR representative (the Director of the Social Sciences Computing Lab). In order to use this feature, called "ICPSR Direct," you have to be connected from a computer on campus, either directly or through the proxy server.

If you wish to download ICPSR datasets off-campus, you must use the proxy server, which is located at or

Downloading ICPSR data through ICPSR Direct is quite simple: you go to the ICPSR website, use either the search or browse feature to find a listing of the study you want, and click on the "downloads" link for that study; that will bring you to Hunter College's "Authorized Download" page, where you must provide your email address in order to continue to a short form where you are asked to give your name and departmental affiliation; submitting that form brings you to the study's download page, which lists all the data and documentation files that comprise the study.

To start a download, click on a format link for a given file - i.e. Compressed or Uncompressed. If you select the Compressed format, you will have to uncompress the file before using it, and to do so you will have to have an unzipping program that handles the gzip format (WinZip handles it). Since browsers differ in how they handle downloading, you may have to experiment a bit with the proper way to click on the link in order to properly download the file (e.g. right-click or left-click). As a precaution at this stage of the process, make sure that the filename that shows up in the "Save As" box is the same as the filename indicated on the study's download page.

Support at Hunter for using ICPSR data

While ICPSR Direct will nearly always be the easiest and best way of getting access to ICPSR datasets, it may happen that file size or some other reason makes it infeasible for you to download a dataset yourself or to analyze it using your own PC. In such an instance, there may be options for accessing the dataset other than by directly downloading it yourself. To inquire about that or other matters related to downloading and using data, you may contact Nick Trippel (, Director of the Social Sciences Computing Lab.

Responsible use of ICPSR data

As a student, faculty or staff member at Hunter College, you are authorized to access the data resources of ICPSR. The study you have requested is the property of ICPSR's member institutions. By downloading the data, you signify that you agree not to share the data with anyone other than faculty members, students, or staff of Hunter College. You further agree to the terms of use specified in ICPSR's Responsible Use Statement.

Hardcopy Codebooks

ICPSR no longer supplies hardcopy codebooks. If for some reason you are uanble to find an electronic codebook for a particular study, please contact for more information.

This page was last updated on March 13, 2006

Hunter College, Social Sciences Computing Lab
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phone: 212-772-5605
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