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3rd September 2009

ICPSR Virtual Meeting - Registration is Now Open!

ICPSR is pleased to announce that registration for the 2009 ICPSR Meeting is open!  The 2009 ICPSR Biennial Official Representatives Meeting invites participation from researchers, librarians, teaching faculty, students, and policymakers from around the world who are interested in the use of social sciences data!

The theme of the 2009 meeting is "Real Data in a Virtual World" -- appropriate for the content to be presented and its delivery! Starting on Monday, October 5 and running through Friday, October 9, ICPSR will deliver 20 sessions related to social science data and related content, tools, quantitative training/literacy, and still other resources associated with ICPSR and its partners. ICPSR staff will also host several live chats.

We encourage you to visit our meeting site - http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/ICPSR/or/ormeet/index.jsp - and begin registering for the webinar Sessions & Presentations.  In addition, the first 200 attendees to register for the ICPSR virtual meeting (see the Registration page) will receive a Labtec headset and a packet of ICPSR promotional materials for your institution (limit one headset per person)!

This conference is FREE and open to everyone.  We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues and friends in the data community!

We look forward to your participation!

25th August 2009

Upcoming New OR Orientation
The ICPSR OR Webinar for our biennial meeting is coming soon.  The first session on October 5th at 11:00 EDT will be an orientation for new ICPSR members.  Actually, all OR's and DR's are welcome to attend.  The session will be given by Rachael Barlow and Libbie Stephenson. Since it is a two hour session and we have lots to cover, we wanted to provide an overview of what we will be covering.  Here is our outline.

OR Basics - Part I (Role of the OR, and OR tools)

Budgeting for ICPSR dues and promoting ICPSR on your campus (tools, tips and suggestions from other OR's)

OR Basics - Part 2 (Getting help, using MyData, communications, publications, and OR sabbaticals)

Getting data (Search strategies for data, variables, and publications)

BREAK - we will take a ten minute pause after the first hour and will have time for some online chat with all of you

Learning and Instruction (Summer program, instructional tools and resources)

Depositng Data and Findings (Data preparation guide, data deposit form, digital curation, DDI)

ICPSR Governance (OR role, Council, Nominating and voting)

Group discussion of next steps and final questions

Hope that everyone will be able to participate!

Libbie & Rachael

Current Mood: optimistic

14th August 2009

ICPSR Webinar: Depositing Data with ICPSR - Featuring The Data Deposit Form

Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/510367155

Considering depositing data with ICPSR?  Curious about the process?  Wondering what ICPSR does with the questions it asks about the data?  This webinar will unlock the mysteries of the ICPSR data deposit form and more!

In addition to an overview of the data deposit process, we will talk about the benefits of depositing data, demonstrate how to submit data using our online Data Deposit Form, and discuss how ICPSR uses the information submitted through the online deposit form.

Please share this invitation with all interested colleaguesWe look forward to joining you during the Webinar!

Not receiving these webinar invitations directly?  Sign up here to receive future invitations - https://www.icpsr.umich.edu/ICPSR/org/lists/index.html



Depositing Data with ICPSR - Featuring The Data Deposit Form



Wednesday, August 26, 2009



1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

5th August 2009

Instructional video clips

At the IASSIST meeting in May, Ryan Womack gave a presention on Web 2.0 initiatives he's employing at Rutgers. Among these are short Data Snapshots with a Survey Monkey link for feedback. They're not intended to be overly polished, the goal is to be functional.  ICPSR has also plugged into the YouTube circuit. Are there related bodies of instructional videos out there that people can recommend?  I'm thinking about short (maximum 3 minutes) that address a particular interface or how to use a specific group of data products?

2nd June 2009

An Introduction to ICPSR!

Join us for a Webinar on June 24

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Are you new to ICPSR and looking for a primer?  Are you considering joining ICPSR but need more information to evaluate becoming part of the membership?  Have you been a member of ICPSR for years but want a refresher on what’s available?

This webinar will provide a broad introduction to the resources available at ICPSR – from social science data, to online analysis, to instructional resources and student opportunities that promote quantitative literacy, to training in quantitative methods and more.

This webinar is open to the public and we hope that you will forward this invitation to all who might be interested in learning more about ICPSR.

Not receiving these webinar invitations?  Visit the following link to sign up for icpsr-announce: https://www.icpsr.umich.edu/ICPSR/org/lists/index.html



An Introduction to ICPSR!




Wednesday, June 24, 2009




1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

30th April 2009

Multi-record and Hierarchical Set-up Files for ICPSR studies in SPSS

Join us for a Webinar on May 19

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

This webinar will discuss the similarities and differences between multi-record and hierarchical set-up files for ICPSR studies. Codebooks for ICPSR studies will be reviewed to illustrate the similarities and differences of the set-up files being discussed. We will create a multi-record set-up file and consider the obstacles in creating a hierarchical one.

This webinar is open to the public - please invite all who might be interested.

Not receiving webinar invitations directly?  See http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/ICPSR/org/lists/index.html  and sign up for icpsr-announce.

Title: Multi-record and Hierarchical Set-up Files for ICPSR studies in SPSS
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Time: 1:00 AM - 2:00 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

27th April 2009

ICPSR to Launch "TeachingWithData.org"
On behalf of George Alter:

ICPSR is preparing to launch a new service TeachingWithData.org that will help faculty to integrate quantitative literacy activities using social science data into their courses.  We are working with the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN) under a grant from NSF’s National Science Digital Library to create a Web site pointing to user-friendly teaching modules (including our own Online Learning Center), literature about pedagogy, online tools (like mapping software), data, and other materials.  The aim of this project is to infuse quantitative reasoning throughout the social science curriculum, not just in courses about statistics or research methods.

We are looking for ten members of the OR/DR community to assist us in this project.  We want people who will actively and enthusiastically promote TeachingWithData.org on their campuses, help us to design promotional materials, and assess the value of the Web site for faculty.  The project will last for at least two years, and it will involve surveys of the social science faculty on each campus.


Members of this group will come to Ann Arbor (all expenses paid) for an in-person workshop on TeachingWithData.org and meetings with ICPSR staff during the (virtual) OR Meeting in early October 2009.   At the end of the assessment period, there will be funding for participants to make presentations at professional meetings about their experiences.   ICPSR will also provide a letter of recognition to your Dean or Department Chair.


If you are interested in participating, please write to Sue Hodge, shodge@umich.edu by May 1.

21st April 2009

Getting Connected with ICPSR!

ICPSR is now on Twitter!  Looks like this application will be a great one as we begin active preparations for the upcoming ICPSR virtual meeting in October.  We've attempted to connect our Facebook and Twitter accounts, so we'll see what happens!

If you are looking to follow ICPSR on Twitter, please note that Twitter support tells us the "Find on Twitter" search is experiencing technical difficulties.  You'll need to search "ICPSR" using the Search on the bottom navigation.  You'll find our first Tweets there and can then maneuver your way into following us. 

In addition to Facebook and Twitter, ICPSR is present on YouTube and del.iciou.us.  And you can also sign up for email announcements by heading to this page on our website: http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/ICPSR/org/lists/index.html   These lists are open to the public.

As you can see, ICPSR is attempting to provide opportunities for you to connect with us and for you to connect with the rest of the data community using the applications you like best!  It's been quite a journey for us so far, and there's much more to come when we release our update to our website later this summer and certainly as we head into launch mode for the virtual meeting!

Stay tuned and stay connected!

15th April 2009

ICPSR Webinar: When Setup Files Go Bad…. Debugging your SAS, SPSS, and STATA code so it works!
Join us for a Webinar on April 28

Space is limited.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

You found your study… you download your data… you run the setup file ICPSR provides… and the screen fills with errors.   This webinar will address common problems in the setup files provided by ICPSR for data files.

Because most of ICPSR’s data processing is automated and the volume of data files is large and very heterogeneous in quality, size, and characteristics, the setup files and “ready-to-go” files do not always work perfectly.  This webinar will help you to anticipate and fix many of these common problems.

Title:  ICPSR Webinar: When Setup Files Go Bad…. Debugging your SAS, SPSS, and STATA code so it works!
Date: Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

This webinar is open to the public - please share with any who might be interested!

10th April 2009

2009 ICPSR Web site
As I'm sure you know, ICPSR re-designs its site every two years. Normally the re-design would launch in March, but we moved it back to August so that it could better coincide with the Summer Program, the academic school year, and the OR Meeting. Here's a summary of some of the big changes occurring on the new ICPSR site.

New Search Engine

I know...we've been making this promise for many years. This year we'll finally be able to deliver. We tried Ultraseek, OracleText, and Google, and just weren't satisfied with the results. We instead built it ourselves using Lucene/SOLR, and the result is impressive. It's very fast, and it allows for robust faceted searching. We'll be able to apply the same search logic to all of our products (data holdings, bibliography, variable search, etc.), and we'll even be able to allow for a true Boolean search for those of us who bothered to learn Boolean in grad school. :)

Download Page

We sat down and ran the numbers on how people are actually using the download page, and we were rather surprised at the results. Our users do 'cherry pick' in terms of data formats and datasets, but they don't use the data cart to download multiple studies at once. That's a rather big deal for us, because it heavily impacted how we built the MyData accounts and how we manage terms of use. With that in mind, we're phasing out the data cart and moving to a system that allows for quick downloading of single studies.

We've created two different download pages and we'll be doing user testing (and polling during open beta) to determine which one best serves our users' needs. If you'd like a sneak peek, here are the two current prototypes:

Prototype A
http://staging.icpsr.umich.edu/cocoon/ICPSR/DOWNLOAD/06849.html (multiple datasets, bundle mismatch)
http://staging.icpsr.umich.edu/cocoon/ICPSR/DOWNLOAD/03355.html (one dataset)
http://staging.icpsr.umich.edu/cocoon/ICPSR/DOWNLOAD/04639.html (restricted data)
http://staging.icpsr.umich.edu/cocoon/ICPSR/DOWNLOAD/07318.html (member only)

Prototype B
http://staging.icpsr.umich.edu/cocoon/ICPSR/DOWNLOAD3/06849.html (multiple datasets, bundle mismatch)
http://staging.icpsr.umich.edu/cocoon/ICPSR/DOWNLOAD3/03355.html (one dataset)
http://staging.icpsr.umich.edu/cocoon/ICPSR/DOWNLOAD3/04639.html (restricted data)
http://staging.icpsr.umich.edu/cocoon/ICPSR/DOWNLOAD3/07318.html (member only)

Note that the links/buttons don't actually download anything yet. We're just dealing with interface issues right now. The notes section at the bottom is meant to convey important info, like "You can't download this; it's restricted." :)

Blogger Integration

We'll be phasing out the LiveJournal blog in favor of one using Blogger. (Yes, we'll port over every post/comment on the LJ Blog.) Blogger allows for tighter integration with the new site. We'll be allowing anonymous (moderated) commenting on the blog so that users can participate in the dialogue without having to create an account, and we'll retain the ability to give trusted users the ability to create new posts. Blogger has some rather impressive capabilities. For example, we could cause the headlines of OR Blog posts to automatically appear on the OR site alongside the other announcements, which would give the blog a lot more visibility and encourage more participation.

Web 2.0 Notions

We're setting up the new site to allow users to comment on some pages, specifically study pages, announcements, and possibly faqs. The goal is to enable users to ask and answer questions, and to better enable dialogue. All comments will be moderated, of course, so that the dialogue remains professional.

Schedule & Testing

We'll launch in mid-August. July will be an open beta where anyone can check out a pretty stable/complete site and provide us with feedback. During May and June we'll be finishing development and doing internal testing and usability tests.


If you have any questions or comments, please post here and I'll be glad to respond.

8th April 2009

REMINDER: Undergraduate Research Papers Due by May 31!

The ICPSR Undergraduate Research Paper Competition is now in its third year. There are actually two competitions, each with a top cash prize of $1,000, and ICPSR publishes the winning papers. Please remind students and faculty that the deadline is coming soon - May 31, 2009!

7th April 2009

April Update on the Virtual OR Meeting

As you know, ICPSR will be hosting the 2009 OR Meeting virtually.  We are currently in the process of developing the program and putting together the infrastructure for the meeting.


To date, we have received several supportive comments about the intent to go virtual as travel bans continue to mount among our member institutions.  Thank you for your feedback!


Prior to the launch of the central OR Meeting site, we will provide updates on this page as more information becomes available or as common questions come in.  In the meantime, please feel free to email me, Linda Detterman, with any further questions or comments.


  • What are the dates of the virtual meeting?  The meeting will run October 5 – 9, 2009.
  • When will the live program broadcasts occur?  To accommodate as many times zones as possible, session content will be broadcast live from 11:00a to 3:00p EDT.  A number of live chats with staff may occur 30 minutes before/after the session broadcasts.
  • Will copies of the broadcasts be available?  Absolutely!  We will post the recorded broadcasts as quickly as possible – along with the slides if any are used.
  • How will I register for the broadcasts?  We’re still evaluating just how to do this most efficiently for you as the audience.  We will require some type of registration for each broadcast for the purposes of being able to interact with you live (answer questions, etc.) during the sessions.  More to come on that soon.
  • Can others on campus beyond the OR and DR participate?  Yes – and we hope that you will promote the sessions early and often to those where the content is relevant.  We believe this can be an excellent opportunity to promote ICPSR data resources across your campus.
  • What will the program look like?  Head to the 2009 OR Meeting announcement site (www.icpsr.umich.edu/ICPSR/or/ormeet/index.html) and you'll find the draft program attached to the text of this bullet.

 Look for another update in May!

11th March 2009

Finding What You Want or Wanting What You Find at ICPSR

Join us for a Webinar on March 24



Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:


Have you ever found it challenging to find data, documentation, or help files at the ICPSR site?
Do you approach the ICPSR site in the same way every time you search?  
Have you found things you didn’t expect when searching the site?  

In this Webinar, an experienced ICPSR researcher who has spent a lot of time helping students
and faculty  find data, will work through a collection of search strategies for finding the types of
information you need from ICPSR.    

Serendipitous discoveries and orderly search logic will be explored during this webinar.

This webinar is open to the public - please share with any who might be interested!




Finding What You Want or Wanting What You Find at ICPSR




Tuesday, March 24, 2009




1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT


After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.



System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista


Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4 (Tiger®) or newer


5th March 2009

We're on the road to ACRL

The Michigan gloom is starting to lift these days. This week, temperatures skyrocketed to the mid-30s. Next week, Emily Merchant from the Research unit, and I will be leaving all of that behind and jetting off to the Pacific Northwest for ACRL. So, it’s not a huge climate change, but we are looking forward to seeing the Mount Rainier and views of the Bay and checking out the glassblowing that happens there.  We are especially looking forward to seeing  friends and members of ICPSR at the meeting!  Our booth number is 1316, adjacent to the Greenwood Publishing Group. Stop by and say hello!

27th February 2009

BLS Call for Presentations on Using Consumer Expenditure Data

Have you used the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) in your research work? More specifically, have you used the public-use microdata files from the CE in research you’ve conducted?  If so, we’d like to invite you to present your work at the upcoming 4th annual CE Microdata Users Workshop on July 30, 2009 to be held at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, DC.


Previous two-day CE workshops have included an afternoon session where researchers made presentations highlighting their use of the microdata.  Attendees have cited these sessions consistently among their favorites, not just because of their interest in the topics presented, but because the presentations give practical examples of how the data can be used in research.


Based on the positive feedback to these sessions, we are revamping this year’s workshop program. First, we are extending the 2009 workshop a third day, to run from July 29th-July 31st.  Because the workshop attracts attendees with a wide range of familiarity with the CE data, we plan to tailor the first day of the workshop to less experienced researchers who have never used or have just begun using the CE data, while the third day’s program will be geared to more experienced users, focusing on more specialized topics.  The second day of the workshop, July 30th, will appeal to both levels of users, as it will be devoted to research presentations. Attendees can then choose whether they would like to attend the full workshop, or any portion thereof that suits their needs. 


To fulfill this plan, we will need from 12-15 presentations of up to 30 minutes by users of the CE data for the second day of the workshop. There are no limits to the areas of research or degree of sophistication of the papers we seek.  They can be descriptive or applied. They can present simple hypothesis testing or elegant model building.  Ongoing work is as welcome as finished research.


While we cannot offer any honoraria to presenters, the workshop is free of charge to all who come.  Past workshops have averaged about 50 attendees, and if we can offer a day devoted to research, we will extend invitations to the larger local community to attend the sessions, so you can anticipate a significant audience for your presentation. 


If you would like to be part of the users’ workshop program or have any questions about the workshop, please contact me by March 6, 2009 at CE_Workshop_2009@bls.gov or by phone at (202) 691-5126.  Thanks!

26th February 2009

2009 Official Representative Meeting to Go Virtual!

Our Director of ICPSR, Myron Gutmann, just announced that after long discussions with ICPSR staff, Council, and a number of our member institutions, the 2009 OR Meeting will be conducted virtually.

The economic situation that our member institutions are facing is one of great uncertainty.  We have learned of travel freezes and budget cuts that are either pending or already in place.  Essentially, the ORs we have talked to have told us that while they have the OR Meeting dates on their calendars, attendance is not a sure thing, and moreover, it is unlikely that confirmation of attendance would not be until late summer or right before the meeting.

As you all know, conducting a meeting of this size is not an inexpensive venture since room rental, catering, and travel expenses add up quickly.  As stewards of your membership dues, our greatest fear was putting forth a meeting and then realizing that only a handful of our members could attend.  This scenario, we believe, would not be acceptable for the membership.  Therefore, we made the decision to cancel the onsite meeting.

I’m told that historically, the OR Meeting has been cancelled due to economic issues in the past, at least twice – the most recent in the 1980s.  At that time, technology was not in a place where alternate options could supplement an onsite meeting.  Of course, times are different now!  We do have technologies that can enable us to share a significant portion of the program that was in the planning phase, and that is exactly what we will do via webinar technology.

Indeed, we will lose the benefit of onsite networking and as well as the ability to see old friends and make new ones.  However, we are also exploring how we might use other applications to provide at least some aspect of networking online – applications like Twitter, blogging software, etc.  And if you have any advice or experience with virtual meetings and applications that you found worked (or didn’t work), we hope you will share what you know!

We should also say that a virtual 2009 meeting is not indicative of future OR Meetings.  We expect to have an onsite meeting in 2011 – perhaps enhanced virtually by what we learn this year.  Moreover, we will provide opportunities during the 2009 meeting for you to comment and advise us on what the 2011 meeting should look like (Council has asked us to get such direction from the membership).  We look forward to your ideas!

The 2009 OR Meeting planning committee now has its marching orders, and we will be spending the next several months planning intensely for this event.  Again, we welcome your advice and suggestions.  You can post here or email me directly at lindamd@umich.edu.  We look forward to hearing from you!

19th February 2009

Greeting from the second floor!

After spending 4+ years in Membership and User Support, the transition to Instructional Development & Research has begun. The new job meant a new space on the second floor of the old section of Perry. There are differences between the floor and the spaces. In this space, I have windows! OK, so they look out on the roof of the atrium, it’s still natural light. This floor is so quiet! Membership and User Support has lots of hustle and bustle, with phones ringing and staff stopping by. But on this floor, everyone works quietly, tapping away at their computers, shuffling papers, and talking softly. And the hardest thing to get used to is the fact that my phone almost never rings! It will take more than 2 weeks to get the hang of the new digs. In the meantime, I’m wading into the work.


The first things on my plate is getting studies that have been released to the website prepared for use with the online analysis tool, SDA. Many of the recently released studies already have this capacity. But there are studies that the OLC would like to use that don’t have it. I continue to work on webinars and tutorials. David Thomas of MDRC and I will be collaborating on a webinar introducing SDA on Tuesday, February 24, at 12Noon. If you would like to join us, see the previous blog to reserve a seat. Then, it’s back to webinars on creating SPSS set-up files. There will be one on multi-record set-ups and another on hierarchical set-ups. The ICPSR Webinar Library has all of the completed webinar available for viewing. A series of tutorial on SDA is also in the works. They will be followed by one on troubleshooting set-up files.


So, is there a study that does not have SDA capacity that you think should? Drop me a line or give me a call! Would love to hear which studies you think should have a spot on my list.

16th February 2009

ICPSR Webinar: "Analyze Data Online on Demand - an Introduction to SDA!"


ICPSR Webinar: Analyze Data Online on Demand - an Introduction to SDA!


Join us for a Webinar on February 24



Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:


SDA is an online (Web-based) data analysis tool developed at UC Berkeley and offered by ICPSR. In this webinar, we will introduce the tool, locate studies that have this option, and demonstrate how to use it. This tool is offered on select studies that are freely available and those limited to ICPSR members-only access.

More on SDA can be found here: http://sda.berkeley.edu/

This webinar is open to the public - please share this invitation with any who may be interested.




ICPSR Webinar: Analyze Data Online on Demand - an Introduction to SDA!




Tuesday, February 24, 2009




12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST


After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.



System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista


Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4 (Tiger®) or newer


Would you like to receive these announcements directly?  Sign up here for future invitations via icpsr-announce: http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/ICPSR/org/lists/index.html


2nd February 2009

A Word on ICPSR Council Nominations

Over the next several weeks, members of the ICPSR community will receive requests to submit nominees for ICPSR’s governing board  - the ICPSR Council.  Though I am gaining tenure at ICPSR quickly (time does fly), this is a process that because it happens every other year, still feels a bit new to me.

In the past, I’m told, there has been some confusion with the process.  As someone who is adamant about resolving confusion (since it often leads to dissatisfaction) among our membership and after some analysis of the situation, my hope is to shed some light by sharing my last experience with the process.  I must admit however, this wasn’t my idea.  At the 2007 OR Meeting, an OR approached me about his concerns with the process.  After sharing my experience as part of the nominating committee earlier that year, this insightful OR, after hearing my story, advised that I somehow share the story, since his mild dissatisfaction was as he described it, more a misunderstanding of the process than anything else.  He also now realized the value of his input into the nomination process.  So, here we go!

If you want the official language on Council nominations, see our Bylaws.  My goal here is to give you the more “friendly” and yes, informal version.

First, there are two primary events in the process.  First is the nomination (gathering of nominees and development of a slate).  Second is the election.  In talking with several ORs, I believe the core catalyst of dissatisfaction with the process is that attention is primarily, or perhaps solely, on the second event – the election.

Like most boards of directors, the Council election event is largely an approval process.  It’s a time for the membership to give the thumbs up for the nominated individuals to serve.  It’s also a last chance for the membership to express concern over those individuals, if concern exists.  From my experience with both boards of directors in industry and the ICPSR Council, it would perhaps be more appropriate and less confusing to refer to the second step as “approval” versus “election.”

I sense this might help because the word “election” connotes that it is a runoff process and that it is the key point in the process to get involved.  However, my experience in serving on the past nominating committee, mostly as an observer, enlightened me.  What I realized was that it is the “nomination event” that is the key point in the process for the membership and the data community to get involved.  Here’s why.

There are currently 12 positions on the ICPSR Council.  Across those 12 positions, the desire is to have a Council, which serves as an advisory team for ICPSR staff, that is representative of our membership and has expertise in data and data delivery issues that ICPSR faces as technology evolves.  And let’s face it, technology and therefore ICPSR are in constant evolution!

So below is a quick summary of some of the attributes that these 12 members should as a group, represent:

·         Various Social Sciences disciplines, instructional, and dataset representation (e.g., Political Science, Sociology, Economics, Public Health, Analysis Methods, etc.)

·         Wide array of institutional representation (BA, MA, Research Extensives, federations, teaching, geographical, etc.)

·         Operational and technical representation (library, computer systems and infrastructure)

·         Diversity of Council members representation (e.g., gender, race, OR/non-OR, etc.)

·         Special initiatives representation (for example, when ICPSR was making the move from distributing data on mailed media (tape/CD) to primary distribution over the Internet, expertise in online delivery was desired in Council members since they were to act in an advisory capacity on this initiative during this period)

The math here is simple!  The number of attributes desired well outnumbers the number of seats available!  What happens then, is that each nominee needs to represent several of these attributes.

So you draw from the individuals nominated by the membership community and find the perfect fit to cover the unrepresented attributes.  For example, you find an individual who is an economist from a BA institution within a federation and who is also know for excellent teaching of quantitative methods.  Perfect fit – but unavailable to serve.  So, you start over.  And so it goes.

The key then, to a successful nomination is an extensive pool of candidates - candidates that not only have a wide array of professional experiences and skills, but importantly, candidates that have the ability and desire to serve for four years.  (Note that the Council position is not paid – it’s more/less a volunteer position.  Beyond the gratitude of the ICPSR membership and staff, the Council member’s greatest payment is a nice dinner at an Ann Arbor restaurant three times per year!)

The last step then, is the election.  After extended meetings to identify individuals who will provide prospective and advice from across our membership, and after getting agreement from those individuals that they will spend some part of the next four years advising ICPSR, they are placed on the ballot for “election” by the ORs.

As you can see, however, the most rigorous part of the process is the nomination.  And this is where we implore our membership to provide names of individuals who are willing and able to serve and representative of the membership and the needs for the evolving consortium.

As we proceed into an election year, we reviewed the entire process once again.  And, we discovered that we could do better on the communication front.  As the nomination process begins this year, our Director plans to send information on the attributes that are “retiring” from our current Council and those advisory attributes that we believe are essential for ICPSR to continue to evolve over the next several years.  We hope that the information he shares will help to stimulate nominee ideas.  And we implore you to share those nominee names with us when the call comes.

So my purpose was to give you a glimpse into the nomination process – from request for and submission/receipt of nominee names to the election event.  I hope that this helps to clarify the process, to encourage your participation in the process (early and often!), and of course, to allay some of the dissatisfaction that we sometimes hear about towards the end of the process!

Further questions or clarifications needed?  Please post here or contact me and I’ll find answers! 

Note also that still more information on the 2009 nominations can be found on ICPSR's front page in the Announcements section.

22nd January 2009

ICPSR Webinar: Get Set-Up! - Creating set-up files for SPSS
Does the idea of dealing with raw data give you a headache?  This webinar is a step-by-step demonstration of how to create a set-up file for an ICPSR study. You will learn how to begin with an ASCII data file and transform it into a file that’s ready to use in SPSS.

We will create a simple  set-up file  for a dataset .  We will consider important issues in creating a set-up file, make decisions about how to proceed when faced with challenges, and explore alternatives if appropriate. This webinar describes the necessary parts of a simple set-up file and where to find the needed information in the study’s codebook.

This webinar is open to the public.  Please share this invitation with all those interested.

Date:  Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Time:  1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

9th January 2009

The time has come . . .

When my children were little, a favorite book of ours was “Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now!” by Dr. Seuss. We read the many ways that Marvin could go, using zike-bike or a crunk-car, or even a zumble-zay. In the end, when Marvin recognized that the time had come, he just went.

Like Marvin, the time has come for me to go onto new challenges. I’m going to a new unit at ICPSR, Educational Resources. Led by Lynette Hoelter, who brought the Online Learning Center to the membership, this unit’s goal is to make it easier for faculty to bring real social science data into courses across the curriculum ranging from introductory classes to senior seminars. With a grant from NSF, we will build a repository of educational materials designed to improve quantitative literacy skills in social science courses. The working title is Quantitative Social Science Data Library (QSSDL), www.qssdl.org. Presently a static site, the full version is set to launch in September, 2009. I am excited to be a part of this project!

Unlike Marvin, I can’t go and leave you with no one to call! Arun Mathur has accepted the opportunity to take over Membership and User Support functions. Arun has been with ICPSR for almost 10 years, working first with the now retired Data Library and more recently with NACJD. He brings a lot of experience with User Support, particularly with criminal justice datasets, and looks forward to working with all of you.

The month of January is transition time for us. On February 1, I will leave you in his capable hands. While excited for the new challenges awaiting me, I’m sad to go. I will miss the many friends that I have made in the data user and OR communities. But I hope to keep in touch with those of you interested in quantitative literacy and teaching with data regarding our new project. I may even post a blog here every now and again, and you can find me on the OLC Blog, too.

So, I'm going, just not too far!



6th January 2009

Become a Fan of ICPSR!

ICPSR has just created a page on Facebook!  We’re just getting started, so we hope you’ll become a fan and take part in building our content there!

After you’ve logged into your Facebook profile, search for “ICPSR” and click on the entry with our logo and the type indicating “website.”  There are several “groups” related to ICPSR out there, usually related to the Summer Program and Interns.  The official ICPSR entry is a page (not a group).

Please spread the word to all your Facebook friends!

ICPSR Annual Report Goes All-Digital!

ICPSR has produced its first fully Web-based Annual Report -- a milestone in the organization's history. Designed to take advantage of the richness of the Web environment, the FY2008 Annual Report uses innovative ways to present and navigate information. We invite you to browse the Annual Report at http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/ICPSR/annualreport/

9th December 2008

Help for the Holidays!

As the academic terms draws to a close and help resources diminish for the next few weeks, we thought this an appropriate time to remind you of ICPSR’s Data User Help Center.  The posted tutorials can resolve many common questions related to reading data into statistical software as well as resolving some frequent problems in getting set-up files to run in Windows and questions on establishing MyData accounts.


This online resource provides a variety of tutorials designed to help data users with using ICPSR data and related resources.  Its overall goal is to provide data users with comprehensive answers, 24 hours a day/7days a week, to the most common problems they experience.


Moreover, the help center provides several media options to accommodate different learning styles including those who learn best by using video, audio, or print-out instructions.  In addition, PowerPoint presentations of the tutorials are available for individuals who find it necessary to take groups through the tutorials.


Links to the Data User Help Center can be found under the Help tab and the Data tab on the ICPSR Web site.


Happy Holidays!

21st November 2008

Questions on Obtaining Restricted Data? We’ve Got Online Answers!
One of the most commonly asked question on the User Support phone line is “How do I get restricted data from ICPSR?” Sometimes, this question is posed after a data user’s attempt to download the restricted data has failed.

We are pleased to announce the addition of a new tutorial on identifying and acquiring restricted data to the Data User Help Center

It shows several ways that the user can tell that a study is restricted or has restricted components. It shows where to find the forms to secure the study for the General Archive and topical archives that house studies with restricted data. While it does not go through each of the varieties in which the restricted data may be offered, it does give the user the sense of where to look for information, and what to expect to provide to ICPSR in order to secure the data. The tutorial is offered in Windows Media Player, QuckTime, with ADA-compliant captioning, formatted for iPod and video iPod players.

We hope that you will find this and the other tutorials in the Data User Help Center useful in the support of data users at your institution.

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