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ICPSR: Depositing Your Data

How to search for and use data found in ICPSR, a data archive for social and political science research.

Depositing Data

From ICPSR'S Deposit Data tab:

ICPSR accepts and encourages uploading your digital data into their archive. More and more grant awarding agencies are requiring the data to be archived (the NIH, for example), and ICPSR makes this process relatively easy.

Deposits are made using a secure Data Deposit Form to describe the data collection and upload content

The following is included on the Deposit Data site.

What Should My Deposit Include?

Deposits should include all data and documentation necessary to independently read and interpret the data collection. Key instructions for preparing data and documentation are listed below. For a discussion of best practice in preparing data for sharing, please refer to ICPSR's Guide to Social Science Data Preparation and Archiving, 5th Edition or contact us directly (

Data File

ICPSR encourages depositors to submit data files as SAS, SPSS, or Stata files. ASCII files are also acceptable as long as they are accompanied with setup files. Datasets in other formats are accepted as well.

Each variable in the data collection should have a set of exhaustive, mutually-exclusive codes. Variable labels and value labels should clearly describe the information or question recorded in that variable. Missing data codes should be defined.

Identifying information should be removed from the data to protect confidentiality.


Documentation files are integral to interpreting a data collection and should thoroughly explain the data collection. Examples of documentation files include codebooks, data collection instruments, summary statistics, project summaries, and bibliographies of publications pertaining to the data. Documentation can be submitted as Microsoft Word, ASCII, and DDI XML files, among other formats. Documentation that has the question text integrated with variable information is preferred.


Every new or revised ICPSR study includes a study description, which provides summary information about the data collection. Study descriptions are valuable resources to data users, and include both general information, such as study title and summary, as well as more detailed information about the study design and methodology. Much of the information used by ICPSR data archivists to create the study description comes from the ICPSR data deposit form. A Word file is provided to help you prepare and compile study description information before depositing your data.

What If I Need to Deposit Data Related to a Publication?

ICPSR accepts replication datasets for researchers who need to publish their raw data in relation to a journal article, so that other researchers can replicate the findings. Because ICPSR does not approve or alter datasets in any way, studies archived as replication datasets tend to appear on our website more quickly.

What Happens to My Data After the Deposit?

After a data collection is deposited at ICPSR, a data archivist reviews the data and documentation, builds a study description, enhances the documentation, approves the data collection for distribution on the ICPSR website, and archives the data for long-term preservation.

Data Pipeline Process

The ICPSR Pipeline Process diagram provides an overview of the steps ICPSR takes to acquire, archive, and disseminate a typical data collection. For a more in-depth discussion of ICPSR's approach to digital curation, please visit the Data Management section of this website.

Access and Preservation Formats

ICPSR makes quantitative data files available in several widely used formats, including ASCII, tab-delimited (for use with Excel), SAS, SPSS, and Stata. Documentation is provided as PDF.

For long-term preservation, data are stored in accordance with prevailing standards and practice. Currently, ICPSR stores quantitative data as ASCII along with setup files for the statistical software packages, and documentation is preserved using XML and PDF/A.

How to Deposit Findings

How Do I Report My Research Findings?

After you've completed your research and have published your findings, ICPSR would like to add your publication to our Bibliography of Data-related Literature, which links to the data you used and analyzed. To that end, ICPSR requests that you send citations to publications to

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