Friday, August 21, 2015

Database trial: SAGE Research Methods

SAGE Research Methods (trial access until 9/15/2015) is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, it can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more.  More information can be found here.
Please use this form to give feedback.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Reports online for Federal Reserve System Community Development Research Conference

The materials from the ninth biennial Federal Reserve System Community Development Research Conference (videos, presentations, papers, and posters) are now available online. Conference speakers included:
  • Janet Yellen, Chair, Federal Reserve Board 
  • Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist 
  • Lael Brainard, Governor, Federal Reserve Board 
  • James Bullard, President, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 
  • Narayana Kocherlakota, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis 
  • And more

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

ICPSR webinar on data sharing

ICPSR provided a great webinar yesterday called "Meeting Federal Data Sharing Requirements" and made the recording available for free. Definitely worth looking at if you are writing data management plans.

Don't forget that ICPSR is our primary resource for a wide variety of data sources and training.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2 Quick and Easy Mapping Tools by Google

Data and maps go hand in hand. Have you ever been working on a project or paper that could benefit from one of those maps that have different places shaded different colors... like, say, an election map? These types of maps (and many others) are a great way to visualize data and add context to your topic. Thanks to the ubiquitous Google Map, creating a map does not necessarily require any specialized skill -just some experience working with a spreadsheet and a bit of familiarity with Google Apps. All things you should have as a UNCG Spartan!
In this post, I'll introduce two tools by Google that allow you to create a map very quickly and easily: Google Sheets and Google Maps.

Google Sheets

I recently found out that Google Sheets have the ability to create a map, and, after spending some time with it, I realized it is just about the easiest tool there is for creating a shaded map of different regions (known as a Choropleth Map). Although somewhat limited, if your data is aggregated by US state or country, you can create a map in minutes. 

How To:

Let's say you have data that is organized by US States. For this example, we'll keep it simple: total population of each state. Your data will need to be in a spreadsheet format (i.e. Excel, Google Sheet) with the location information in one column and corresponding data in a second column. First access Google Sheets via your Google Drive (directions), then you can choose to import your data from an existing file or start with a blank sheet and paste or manually input your data. I recommend placing the location information (state names) in column A and the data you want to map in column B.
Your data should look something like this:
Format your data in two columns.
To create your map, select both the location column and column containing the data you wish to display. Simply click the A column heading, hold the control (or command) button on your keyboard, and click the B column heading. Both columns should be selected now. Alternatively, you could click and hold on the A column header and drag to the B column to select both. Next, click Insert on the menu near the top of the page, then click Chart on the drop down menu. The Chart Editor will pop up on your screen.
In the Chart Editor, there are three tabs near the top left: Start, Chart, and Customize. Go ahead and click on the Chart tab. In the leftmost column, you'll see Map as the third option from the bottom. Click Map, and you'll see two options in the center
column, the topmost is a Regions (or choropleth) map, and the second is a Markers (proportional symbol) map. Click the topmost Regions map, then click the Customize tab. Now, at Regions selection click the drop down menu and choose United States. You can also edit your colors at this point. When you're happy with the colors, click the Insert button.
Your map will now appear on your spreadsheet. Notice that if you hover over different states, a information box appears displaying the total population for the state. To edit or share, click anywhere on the map and you will see a drop down arrow in the top right. Click the arrow, and you'll find options to edit or delete your map, save it as an image, or publish it on the web!

Here is a short video that walks you through creating your map!

Best Uses: Quick map to use as a figure in a paper; reviewing your data; preliminary analysis.
Limitations: Limited interactivity; not very customizable; only countries, states, or city names can be used as locations (cannot geocode addresses, lat-long coordinates);

Google Maps

Google Maps has a feature called My Maps, and if you have a Google account (and your iSpartan mail is a Google account) you can add data points to a simple Google Map. Google Maps is useful when you want to map data that is tied to a point, such as a street address or latitude and longitude coordinates. Let's say you wanted to map all of the hospitals in the state or North Carolina, or add points to a map based on a list of addresses where crimes occurred. Google Maps lets you add these points to a map (a process called geocoding) and then embed your map in a webpage. 

How to:

First, make sure you're logged into either your iSpartan email or another Google account. Once again, your data will need to be in a spreadsheet (Google Sheet or Excel will work here), with location data in one of the columns. This time, I will use freely available data of reported vandalism incidences from the Greensboro Police Department (you can view the data here and copy and paste to your own sheet). The list of incidences contains a brief description and an approximate address where the event occurred. It is important that your location data is all in one column. For example, if you're using addresses, the street number, city, and state should all be in the same cell. Likewise for latitude and longitude: they should be in the same cell separated by a comma. Last, make sure the first row of your sheet contains a descriptive heading for the contents in the column, similar to my example sheet. Once your data is
Click My maps from the search bar.
ready, go to
 Once you've landed on the Google Maps page, click on the search bar in the top left of the screen and a drop down menu will appear. If you are signed into Google, you will see "My Maps," along with any other recent map searches you've conducted. Click My Maps, and then click Create

A new browser tab will open, and you will see a map with a table of contents menu in the top left (see image). To add your point data to the map, click the Import link under "Untitled Layer." An import
window will open. If your data is saved in an Excel spreadsheet: you can either drag and drop the file into the dashed box, or you can click the select button to navigate to the file on your computer. If your data is in a Google Sheet: click Google Drive at the top, and click on the sheet containing your data. Once you've located the sheet, click the select button at the bottom of the dialogue box. After importing, Another box will pop up asking you to select the column that contains your location information (i.e. address or lat/long).
Select the heading that corresponds to your location column, click Continue, then choose a column to title the points on your map and click Finish.

Now, your points will be placed on the map! Click on any of the points and a callout box will appear containing the information for the point from your spreadsheet. In the top left menu, click All Items, then click the small paint can icon to change the look and feel of your points. You can even color the points based on a common attribute by clicking the Uniform Style link, and selecting a data column to color the points by from the "Group places by" menu. Experiment and play with the different settings in the menu to customize your map. Make sure you give your map a descriptive name by clicking on "Untitled Map" in the menu and renaming it.

The table of contents menu allows for editing and sharing.
To share your map with others, click the Share link in the menu and a share window will pop up that provides a link that you can give to others. If you want to embed the map in a webpage, first change the access rights from private to public, then click Save and Done. Then, in the main menu, click the three vertical dots to the right of the Share link and a menu will appear. Click "Embed in my site" and you can copy and paste the code to insert the map into a webpage.

This video will guide you through the process!

Best uses: Adding location points to a map (geocoding); creating an interactive webmap; sharing mapped data with others online.

Limitations: Google maps are great for sharing, but don't carry over well to static format (like an image to include in a paper). Google has (somewhat fuzzy) limits to the amount of points you can geocode by this method as well.

I hope you will consider how you can integrate some of these simple mapping tools into your data-centered projects! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at, or use the Ask Us! chat on the library home page.

Happy Mapping,
Phil White

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bring Data to the Classroom Webinar Series – Using Data for Instruction

Bringing data into the classroom early (undergraduate) and often in support of quantitative literacy and just plain fun is the goal of these sessions.  ICPSR hosts a wide variety ofResources for Instructors as well as several data tools that can be used to get students interested in data and data analysis without the intimidation factor. Part of the 2014 Data Fair, webinars in this series (with registration links) include the following:
Data, Data Everywhere and Not a Number to Teach!
Broadcast time (EDT): Thursday, October 9,  Noon (12:00pm)
Sifting through the many megabytes of data with which we are bombarded each day takes practice. This webinar will focus on teaching students how to evaluate the data with which they come in contact (think Joel Best’s books…). We will also present a variety of sources for “numbers” that can be used in teaching and examples of their use. Because working with numerical evidence is as much or more a mindset as it is a set of mathematical skills, the content should be especially helpful for faculty who might otherwise consider themselves “non-quantitative.”
Making Research Methods Fun (or at Least Tolerable)
Broadcast time (EDT): Thursday, October 9,  2:00pm
Can “social research” and “fun” really go together? We all know the value of social research and why learning methods is important, but students are typically not as easily convinced. Learn how to use ICPSR’s collection of data and tools to make your research methods course more engaging. We will demonstrate how a variety of concepts – including some of the less exciting ones like operationalization and sampling – can be taught using real data and/or the tools built to support those data. 
About The ICPSR Data Fair
ICPSR is pleased to present its program for the 2014 ICPSR Data Fair, which will take placeMonday through Thursday, October 6-9, 2014.
·         The full program is found here:
·         Webinar broadcast times are listed in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).
·         Webinars are free and open to the public, and it is permissible (even encouraged!) for organizations to broadcast these webcasts to groups of attendees.
·         Attendees must register for each webinar they want to attend.
·         Recordings and slide decks (when available) will be placed on ICPSR’s YouTube Channel. Look for the playlist titled, “2014 Data Fair.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

ICPSR's thematic data collections

ICPSR has an amazing variety of data. Join in these webinars to learn more!

ICPSR hosts over 20 data collections funded by government agencies and various foundations. Using these funds, the carefully curated data are free to the public. Please join ICPSR as it highlights a number of these collections as part of its 2014 Data Fair. Webinars in this series (with registration links) include the following:
An Introduction to NADAC - ICPSR's National Archive of Data on Arts and Culture
Broadcast time (EDT): Monday, October 6, 1:00pm
NADAC's mission is to share research data on arts and culture with researchers, policymakers, people working for arts and culture organizations, and the general public. This session, led by staff managing NADAC, will help attendees to learn about data available from NADAC at the national, state, and local levels. The session will also highlight user-friendly tools for analyzing the data (including for those not experienced with statistical packages), for visualizing the data, and for other ways of using research data to support the arts and culture community.
NAHDAP Orientation - ICPSR's National Addiction and HIV Data Archive Program
Broadcast time (EDT): Tuesday, October 7, 2:00pm
NAHDAP facilitates research on drug addiction and HIV infection by acquiring and sharing data, particularly those funded by its sponsor, the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This session, led by members of ICPSR's National Addiction and HIV Data Archive Program team, will help attendees learn about NAHDAP's services and resources for data depositors and data users. Further, they will orient you and help you locate this information on the NAHDAP website, highlighting selected datasets and data series.
Q&A with MET Staff
Broadcast time (EDT): Wednesday, October 8, 2:00pm
The Measures of Effective Teaching Longitudinal Database (MET LDB) has been available to the research community for almost a year now, and we invite current and potential users to log in for a review of the project and available data, and then stick around for Q&A with the ICPSR staff who manage data file processing and access for secondary analysis. This is a great opportunity to get your questions answered about this complex dataset, specifically questions on file organization and structure, as well as data access policies and procedures.
Out of the Gate(S): Post-Secondary Trajectories and Outcomes of Millennium and Washington Achiever Scholars
Broadcast time (EDT): Thursday, October 9,  3:00pm
The Washington State Achievers Scholarship program (WSA) started as part of an initiative by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund and support 16 high schools in Washington State as they redesigned their schools in order to increase academic achievement for all of their students. In 1999, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation started the Gates Millennium Scholars Program (GMS), a 20-year initiative which intends to expand access to higher education for high achieving, low-income minority students.
In 2012, ICPSR’s Resource Center for Minority Data ( RCMD) and the Gates Foundation entered into an agreement to make data collected through the two scholarships freely available to the public through ICPSR. This session will provide some methodological and content background on these data and ways to access and analyze these data.
Broadening Access to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data with the Restricted-Use Data Analysis System (R-DAS)
Broadcast time (EDT): Tuesday, October 7, Noon (12:00pm)
Learning objectives
1.       Obtain a general understanding of the data and resources available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA)
2.       Understand the differences between the public-use and restricted-use National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data files
3.       Locate and access restricted-use NSDUH data in the R-DAS
4.       Successfully complete a cross-tabulation in the R-DAS

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's fair season, so time for a Data Fair!

The 2014 ICPSR Data Fair is open for registration!
ICPSR – Powering Sustainable Data Access
The call for public sharing/public access to scientific research data continues to grow. Initially there seemed to be little recognition of the need to finance public access to research data, but fortunately funding-sustained public access is making its way into the conversation.
For many years, ICPSR has hosted several public-access research data archives that are sustained by federal and foundation funding. ICPSR’s 2014 Data Fair will feature webinars about many of these archives and collections, including an introduction to the National Archive of Data on Arts and Culture; the R-DAS collection at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive; two Gates Foundation-funded collections at the Resource Center for Minority Data; an orientation to the National Addiction and HIV Data Archive Program; and a Q & A about the Gates Foundation-funded Measures of Effective Teaching Longitudinal Database. 
You will find descriptions of these webinars in the Data Fair program. Other offerings will include a presentation about ICPSR’s current efforts to fund and achieve sustainable public-access data sharing models, including its newly launched collection known as openICPSR.
Also of note, ICPSR will launch the Data Fair with an orientation webinar focused on our membership archive – composed of a data collection and related teaching resources that have been sustained successfully for over 52 years.Membership matters, and this webinar titled, “Understanding ICPSR,” will provide members – and those exploring membership – with in-depth tours of ICPSR’s research data services education resources, and the benefits of membership.
We invite you to join us for one or all fourteen webinars airing October 6-9, 2014!
Note: All data fair webinars are free and open to the public.