This is the "Home" page of the "Data Archives" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content

Data Archives  

A guide to data archives in the social sciences
Last Updated: Jul 18, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Home Print Page


Databib is an online directory of data archives and repositories across all domains (social sciences, sciences, and humanities).

Recently added records:

Loading Loading...
blank padding


The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by us forever.

  • Electronic and Special Media Records
    NARA maintains electronic records created by the Congress, the courts, the Executive Office of the President, numerous Presidential commissions, and nearly 100 bureaus, departments, and other components of executive branch agencies and their contractors.
    Click here for an overview of the subject areas and types of holdings.
  • Access to Archival Databases
    Online access to records in a small selection of historic databases preserved permanently in NARA.  The records cover a wide variety of civilian and military functions and have many genealogical, social, political, and economic research uses.

What is a Data Archive?

Data archives contain raw data files that are used for secondary analysis in research.  These data files are deposited in data archives for preservation and dissemination purposes.  Although not all data files are available in archives, data archives are usually searchable and a great place to start looking for your research project.

Raw data files are also called social science data sets, which are defined as "a file of structured data, usually statistical in nature, for use in social science research.  The most common types contain census and survey data.  Archives of social science data sets are available online, often by subscription." (Source: Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science)

Data sets are the direct results of research that was conducted as part of a study or survey.  They are often considered to be a primary source.  Data set files are usually downloaded and manipulated using statistical software such as SPSS or SAS.  Sometimes data archives will provide tools for online analysis as well.


Featured Archives


The Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) is the world's largest social science data archive.  It is one of the best places to start looking for a data set.  MSU maintains a membership which allows students and faculty to download data sets and use other online tools by registering with your email address.

ICPSR website screenshot


Roper Center

The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research is one of the world's leading archives of social science data, specializing in data from surveys of public opinion. The data held by the Roper Center range from the 1930s, when survey research was in its infancy, to the present. Most of the data are from the United States, but over 50 nations are represented.

screenshot of Roper Center website

Subject Specialist Librarian

Profile Image
Hailey Mooney

Loading  Loading...