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Social Science Data Resources

Research guide for accessing data in the social sciences disciplines

About Social Science Data

Social science researchers are interested in human relationships and the ways in which humans experience the world. Researchers come from a variety of different fields, like sociology, political science, psychology, education, human geography, public policy, and global studies. Social science researchers use a diverse variety of different datasets and may work in teams to answer interdisciplinary research questions on topics such as 

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Human relationships and behavior
  • Conflict, security, and peace
  • Identities and experiences
  • Employment, public services, and our global economy

To learn more about searching for data please see our Data & Statistics Research Guide. Our Data Management Research Guide also provides best practices for managing social science data at GW. 

Introductory Resources

Introductory terminology:

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) - Glossary

Social Science Research and Instructional Council Glossary

Recommended formats for sharing, using, and preservation:

Text, Documentation, Scripts: XML, PDF, HTML, Plain Text

Still Images: TIFF, JPEG 2000, PNG, JPEG/JFIF, DNG (digital negative), BMP, GIF

Geospatial: Shapefile (SHP, DBF, SHX), GeoTIFF, NetCDF

Graphic Images: 

  • Raster Formats: TIFF, JPEG2000, PNG, JPEG/JFIF, DNG, BMP, GIF
  • Vector Formats: Scalable vector graphics, AutoCAD Drawing Interchange Format, Encapsulated Postscripts, Shapefile
  • Cartographic Formats: GeoTIFF, GeoPDF, GeoJPEG2000, Shapefile

Audio Files: WAVE, AIFF, MP3, MXF, FLAC

Video Files: MOV, MPEG-4, AVI, MXF

Database Files: XML, CSV, TAB

Source: University of Virginia Library Research Data Services + Sciences

Best Places to Start

GW Libraries • 2130 H Street NW • Washington DC 20052202.994.6558AskUs@gwu.edu