Data sources

Behind the hustle and bustle of the book exhibit at the recent annual meetings of the American Sociological Association was an exhibit of various data sources. That area of the room is usually very quiet. As a break from everything else, I decided to take a little tour. The posters and flyers are actually quite informative. It seems to me that this is an underappreciated part of the meetings and could be especially helpful for graduate students. Of course, it should hold value to many others as well.

In addition to data sources, there are pointers to various tools and also reports that may be of interest. Much of the material on these Web sites is presented in a way that it should be accessible and interesting to many non-specialists as well. The teaching potential of some of these sources is considerable as well.

  • Wisconsin Longitudinal Study – “[..] a long-term study of a random sample of 10,317 men and women who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957.” In the interest of full disclosure, I have a pilot grant from this project and have been working with the data set for the past few months. It’s an amazing resource.
  • Social Explorer – “Social Explorer is dedicated to providing demographic information in an easily understood format: data maps.” – I may have linked to this before. This resource in particular may be especially helpful for teaching purposes.
  • WebCASPAR – “[..] provides easy access to a large body of statistical data resources for science and engineering (S&E) at U.S. academic institutions. WebCASPAR emphasizes S&E, but its data resources also provide information on non-S&E fields and higher education in general.”
  • National Science Board Science and Engineering Indicators 2006 – “[..] a volume of record comprising the major high quality quantitative data on the U.S. and international science and engineering enterprise.”
  • Archival Research Catalog – “The Archival Research Catalog (ARC) is the online catalog of NARA’s [NARA = National Archives and Records Administration] nationwide holdings in the Washington, DC area, Regional Archives and Presidential Libraries.” The ARC Guide for Educators and Students is a good place to start.
  • The American Time Use Survey – “measures the amount of time people spend doing various activities, such as paid work, childcare, volunteering, commuting, and socializing.”

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