The various disciplines of the social sciences yield research data as diverse as the repositories which preserve and make these data sets accessible. Among the many fields that comprise the social sciences–archaeology, geography, sociology, economics, political science, and psychology, to name a few–the numeric and spatial data they produce document a vast array of research on human behavior, culture, society, landscapes, and economic structures. Given the number of options, social science researchers must consider which repository is best suited for the long-term preservation and curation of their data.
Some social science data repositories are broad in scope; the ICPSR (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research) at the University of Michigan, for instance, preserves data related to geography and environment, economic behavior and attitudes, community and urban studies, and education. Other repositories provide data curation services for a single discipline such as tDAR (The Digital Archaeological Record) for archaeology.
Different social science repositories will have varying requirements for data deposit. The ICPSR provides a comprehensive guide for preparing data for preservation and archiving. Such guidelines will outline specifics such as acceptable file formats for data submission, requirements for metadata descriptions, and deposit of supporting documentation (such as laboratory notebooks) that aid in illustrating the context under which the data was created.
A list of social science repositories/resources for finding and depositing data can be found below:
ADS (Archaeology Data Service)
CoPAR (Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records)
tDAR (The Digital Archaeological Record)
NACJD (National Archive of Criminal Justice Data – associated with ICPSR)
Demographics/Government Data Repositories
Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota
General Social Sciences
CESSDA (Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives)
IQSS (The Institute for Quantitative Social Science) at Harvard University)
National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect at Cornell University
While this is not a complete list, other data repositories can be found through data clearinghouses, such as OpenDOAR and Databib. The Scholarly Commons also maintains a list of Geospatial Data Repositories and Numeric Data Repositories. Likewise, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ ATLAS provides a list of repositories relating to public opinion and government data.
For more information on the Scholarly Commons’ services relating to the social sciences, please visit the Numeric and Spatial Data Services site.