Thursday, July 27, 2017

UNCG's Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) Usage Report

ICPSR is the leading national archive for data in the social sciences, education, health and other fields. The consortium also provides data-related training including the Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research and online learning modules, such as the Data-Driven Learning Guides.  UNCG is a member of the consortium and currently the University Libraries and the Office of Research and Economic Development split our membership fees with each paying every other year. Since 2007 University Libraries’ Data Services Librarian position has assumed the responsibilities of the Official Representative, a position that participates in the governance of ICPSR and is the main contact for the archive. This report provides information on the most recent activities related to the archive and usage statistics for the years that data were available.

Outreach and Promotions

The primary formats for outreach have been presentations to appropriate departments and library research guides integrating ICPSR resources. Data-related presentations that incorporate ICPSR have been give forty-three times over the past three academic years. Sixteen of these presentations were integrated into specific classes in various departments (ENT, GEO, PSC, LIS, SOC, etc.), thirteen were specifically on ICPSR data and resources, and fourteen focused on research data management that included ICPSR materials. Fifteen were in 2014-15 AY, thirteen in 2015-16 AY, and fifteen in 2016-17 AY. ICPSR has also been well-integrated into the library research guide for data services, the research data management guide, and other library guides.

Overall Usage

From 2014-2015 to 2016-2017, there were 122 total uses of ICPSR. This number does not include the number of students and faculty registered to use or browsing ICPSR’s website. Moreover, this number does not reflect the high number of datasets downloaded per user or the duration of use for each download. One faculty member may download all data files for a particular dataset and use those files multiple times for several scholarly products. While the total use number may be low in comparison to other electronic resources at the library, its impact on research is high.

The table below shows usage from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. Data studies include all information collected by a principal investigator. Each study can have one or more dataset within it. Datasets are collections of data records that contain multiple data files. Examples of data files would include ASCII files, setup files, and documentation. Members-only data are the studies available to consortium members. These studies would cost $500 per dataset to access as non-members, which would total to $46,500 for UNCG’s users based on the 93 uses of member-only datasets last year.

Size in GB

Presentations and outreach to potential users have proven successful this past year. For example, after the first instruction session in Psychology on ICPSR was held in May 2016, the number of Psychology faculty and students using ICPSR increased from 1 per year to 8 in 2016-2017 and. The chart below shows usage by those departments that historically have been primary users of ICPSR data. It demonstrates that ICPSR has wide appeal across schools. Nevertheless, there are still areas for growth such as with Geography, Education, and other departments and schools not represented.

We have also seen an increase in graduate student and undergraduate student usage. The chart below shows the usage by status as provided by the user. In 2016-2017, we had a significant increase in the number of undergraduate students using the source, but a slight decrease in faculty from 2014-2015. Some of these students work as research assistants for faculty members, thereby downloading the data for faculty research.

In addition, use is quite high in comparison to other institutions in the same Carnegie Classification. The chart and table below provide data for the comparison. On average our users are downloading datasets, data files, and studies more frequently than other institutions in our Carnegie Category. 


Specific Resources
ICPSR’s utilization reports provide data for the top ten most frequently downloaded studies at UNCG from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. Below are the top five for that time period.

In addition to dataset downloads, ICPSR provides access to online analysis through the Survey Documentation Analysis (SDA) system. This system allows users to analyze data without dowlowding datasets or using statistical software packages. The primary use of SDA in the past three years has been access to the SETUPS studies. Dr. Charles Prysby in Political Science is the main PI for these studies and integrates their use into several political science classes. SDA is available for around 700 studies at ICPSR.

Summer Program

ICPSR conducts several short-term workshops around the country and two four-week quantitative research programs at the University of Michigan. The utilization reports provide info on who has attended for the past three years, but does not indicate which programs they have attended. This year we had two attendees. The experience has been a valuable one for those who attended. One faculty member from the School of Education provided the following feedback:

A few years ago I attended an ICPSR workshop on the MET study dataset.  The course was engaging and informative.  The instructors were top-notch, and I had the opportunity to network with other researchers interested in the same dataset.  From what I learned in the workshop, I was able to secure a modest grant to run a pilot for my study using MET data.  I couldn't have done that had I not attended the workshop.

Our membership in ICPSR reduces the cost of attendance significantly. The fees for 2017 can be seen on the website. While our membership provides reduced pricing for attendance, the average class still costs from $1500 for a three-day course to $3700 for both four-week sessions. Faculty have had difficulty justifying these prices plus the cost of travel and housing. Sending additional faculty or graduate students to ICPSR’s summer programs is a potential area for growth.



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