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Social Science Data Resources

Research guide for accessing data in the social sciences disciplines

Data Services Librarian

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Ann James
Suite 303V, Gelman Library
+1 202-994-2216
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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