Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)


Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) consists of over 750 academic institutions and research organizations, and is a unit within the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. ICPSR provides and maintains a searchable data archive of more than 250,000 files of research in the social and behavioral sciences. Studies among these files cover a wide range of topics including community and urban studies, conflict and wars, economic behaviors and attitudes, education, geography and environment, government, health care, international systems, legal systems, political behavior, social behavior and more. In addition to the data archive, ICPSR also provides multiple data resources that range from lists of external sources to guides on navigating all aspects of the research process.*

*This description is a paraphrased version of the description on the ICPSR website.

Available data file formats

R, ASCII (delimited), SAS, Stata, SPSS and online analysis. Note: there are three types of ASCII files. Tab-delimited ASCII files, when available, can be read into Excel.


This data source requires registration and login information to access the data. It is otherwise open to the public. You can also apply for access to some restricted-use data.


How to retrieve data by example


Suppose you wish to obtain data on the views of terrorism around the world. You have no particular study in mind but would like to browse the available data and would like to view the data in Excel.


  • Go to the ICPSR website and click on FIND DATA at the top of the screen to display a drop-down menu. In the drop-down menu, click on the first option that says FIND DATA.
  • To view data from other countries, look in the Browse box on the left and click Global data.
  • This will bring you to a page of filter options. Each box has a different filter where choose view all in the bottom right corner of each box to display all available values for that filter. To obtain data on terrorism, go to the first box, Subject Terms, and click view all. From the letters at the top, choose T and scroll down to select terrorism.
  • Go to the Restriction Type box and select Public Use, then go to the Data Format box and select Delimited. The results of the search with these filters will be at the bottom of this page.
  • Looking at the results, you decide to choose the study Global Views on the Death of Osama Bin Landen, 2011. Clicking on this study will take you to a general information page for the study. Once there, click Download to display a drop-down menu of file format options. From these options, select Delimited.
  • Agree to the terms of service. If you do not already have an account, you will need to make one here. Fill out your information and follow the instructions provided. Once you have been logged into ICPSR, you will be able to download the data.
  • The data will download to your computer in the form of a zip file. The zip file will contain associated documentation and another folder that contains the raw data in the form of a text file, as well as the questionnaire and codebook, both in the form of a PDF.
  • To import the raw data into Excel, open the folder inside the zip file. Copy the text file, in this case a .tsv file, and paste it to your desktop.
  • Open Excel on your computer. Go to File and then Open to select a document. When attempting to select the file, change the file type from Excel to All files. This will allow you to select the .tsv file. Your computer should then ask if you are sure you would like to open the file. Select Yes. It will then inform you that the file could not be opened in Excel as it currently is. Select Yes again to alter the file format.
  • When choosing the file format that best describes the data, select the option that says Delimited and click Next. Under the section Delimiters, be sure to select Tab then click Next. For column data format, select General and then click Finish. Your data will now appear in an Excel spreadsheet with all numbers.
  • To obtain the labels for the values, refer to the codebook provided inside the folder within the zip file. This will give you answer and/or word equivalents to the numbers in the spreadsheet.

You should now have access to the raw data on the Global Views on the Death of Osama Bin Laden, 2011. Links to supporting documentation for the data and other information about this study will be available on the general information page for the study.

Be sure to consult with the source website on how to properly cite your data. ICPSR provides citations for each study under Project Description on the study’s respective general information page. For this scenario, the citation would be:

Gallup International, Inc. Global Views on the Death of Osama Bin Laden, 2011. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2012-07-03.