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Economics & Public Policy Extra


The latest Library news and information for economists and political scientists


Archive for the 'Sources of data' Category

UN Comtrade Statistics now available via the UK Data Service

Kieron L Jones21 November 2014

“We are delighted to announce that UK FE/HE users can now access the UN Comtrade Statistics premium service via the UK Data Service.

The United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade) contains more than 3 billion trade records starting from 1962 to present day. These are detailed import and export statistics reported by the statistical authorities of over 200 countries or areas. UN Comtrade is considered the most comprehensive trade database available and is continuously updated. The UK Data Service provides access to the premium service which allows staff and students from UK Higher or Further education institutions to bulk download millions of records with no limit on the number of queries.”

The UK Data Service – an introduction to data and resources for social scientists

Kieron L Jones7 May 2014

16 June 2014
Sussex University

This half-day workshop will introduce participants to the data available from the UK Data Service.

The workshop is aimed primarily at research postgraduates but will be of relevance to other social scientists, research methods teachers and librarians who wish to learn more about the resources and support offered by the UK Data Service.

It will involve a mixture of presentation, group work and hands-on computing sessions using the UK Data Service website to:

  • explore the range of datasets available for reuse including quantitative and qualitative data
  • demonstrate how data can be searched, accessed, browsed and analysed online using a variety of resource discovery and data analysis tools
  • showcase the wide variety of data support materials available, for example video tutorial guides and methodological guides
  • provide information on managing and sharing research data and available help and guidance
  • highlight further training events


ICRG Researcher’s Dataset – Table 3B

Kieron L Jones16 April 2014

We now have access to the ICRG Researcher’s Dataset – Table 3B: http://metalib-a.lib.ucl.ac.uk/V/?func=find-db-1-title&mode=titles&scan_start=i&search_type=start&restricted=all.  It provides annual averages of the 12 components of ICRG’s Political Risk Ratings (Table 3B), as published in the International Country Risk Guide.  Average ratings are provided for all countries covered by ICRG from 1984 through to the last full calendar year.  Components include: government stability, socioeconomic conditions, corruption, ethnic tensions, democratic accountability, religion in politics, etc.

UK Data Service releases suite of instructional videos and webinars

Kieron L Jones20 March 2014

Researchers and students trying to get to grips with secondary data in the digital age now have some extra guidance to rely on.

The UK Data Service has produced a series of short ‘how to’ video tutorials that demonstrate specific online tasks and skills:

  • How to download UK survey data
  • How to log in to the Secure Lab
  • How to download a subset of survey data using Nesstar
  • How to use weights in Nesstar
  • How to access census aggregate data in InFuse
  • How to match and convert data using GeoConvert
  • How to access information about postcodes using GeoConvert
  • Creating an intensity map using Google Fusion tables

Each tutorial is just a few minutes long and contains online demonstrations of the task supported with audio explanations, making it easy for users to pause and replay the video as they learn and master the necessary skills. Some may be suitable for classroom use. Additional videos will be released over the coming weeks and months.

In addition, the UK Data Service is making recordings of its past webinars available online for open use. These webinars are live recordings of actual online training events, ranging from 45 to 60 minutes in length and often including participant question-and-answer sessions. Details of the original webinar are included so participants can see in advance the topics covered.

There are three webinars currently posted:

  • An introduction to the UK Data Service: Resources for postgraduates
  • New and easier ways of working with aggregate data and geographies from UK censuses
  • Showcasing the UK Quali Bank online browsing system for qualitative data

All video tutorials and past webinars are free to use, with no registration required. See more at the links below.

UK Data Service video tutorials

UK Data Service past webinars

The Conversation is looking for data-driven academic research

Kieron L Jones27 February 2014

Researchers from UK universities and research institutes now have a powerful new channel to get visibility for research underpinned by secondary data.

The Conversation is a fast-growing, independent and non-profit source of data-driven news.

It was established in the UK as a charitable organisation with support from academic funders HEFCE, HEFCW and the Scottish Funding Council along with Research Councils UK and several independent research foundations. Twenty UK universities have added their support as founding partners. The site currently features articles from experts at 113 universities and other academic institutions across the UK.

Academic researchers who use data from the UK Data Service may find The Conversation an especially helpful place to:

  • gain visibility for their work
  • share their expert knowledge with those who shape public policy
  • stimulate debates on issues of interest to wider society

Contributing authors receive a photo byline and short bio, along with access to a suite of behind-the-scenes analytics to better understand the volume and diversity of each article’s readers – a handy and visual way to demonstrate impact.

The editorial process is transparent, online, and guided by trained journalists who have worked at leading publications including The Guardian, The Economist, Reuters and The Observer. The editors are also open to working with academic authors on better ways of visualising the data they use.

The Conversation UK website is organised into themes including:

  • business and economy
  • education
  • politics and society
  • science and technology
  • health and medicine

In addition, articles are indexed by individual topics, with the option for readers to subscribe to topics of personal or professional interest. Articles filed under the Hard Evidence topic are specifically written by academics with a body of published work who ‘use research evidence to tackle the trickiest public policy questions’.

There are several ways to get involved:

  • sign up to the newsletter: get a flavour of the kind of articles featured in The Conversation
  • pitch an idea: describe an article you’d like to write in 100 words or less – or suggest a colleague who might have the expertise to contribute
  • become an author: set up an academic account and submit an article

Researchers who write articles based on data from the UK Data Service are encouraged to cite their data to acknowledge the data source, make it easier for others to find, and to encourage more secondary analysis. For more on how (and why) to cite research data, see the ESRC’s guidance Data citation: What you need to know.

To learn more:

Africa Open Data

Kieron L Jones21 October 2013

Africa Open Data is a useful initiative of the Open Africa Platform which is part of the Ujuzi Initiative and created and funded by the Africa Media Initiative (AMI), the World Bank Institute (WBI) and Google. It aims to become the largest central repository for Government, Civil Society, Corporate and Donor Agency Data. There are currently over 900 datasets which can be browsed by country. Items covered include World Bank and census data. Also interesting are election materials, including datasets from Ushahidi on election violence incidents from Egypt and Kenya.

Consultation on data sharing and access

Kieron L Jones3 September 2013

Your input needed on data sharing and access issues

The Expert Advisory Group on Data Access (EAGDA) is seeking input from research data users to better understand how they discover, access and use existing research databases.

EAGDA was established by the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Medical Research Council to provide strategic advice on the emerging scientific, legal and ethical issues associated with data access for human genetics research and cohort studies.

They are asking users of secondary datasets to complete a short online survey covering:

  • factors that constrain discovery of useful datasets
  • barriers to effective data access
  • processes to protect data confidentiality
  • actions funders and study leaders might take to accelerate data access
  • barriers to effective data linking
  • benefits of data sharing
  • data management practices

The survey is open to all researchers who use secondary data, and offers ample opportunities for open-ended responses. To complete, click the link below.

The consultation will close on 9 September 2013, and the results will be presented at the next EAGDA meeting on 14 October 2013.

Data access survey (closes 9 September 2013)

Global corruption data

Kieron L Jones12 July 2013

Find information on the extent of government and political corruption worldwide.  Transparency International publish an annual corruption perceptions index which charts opinion on levels of corruption.

Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research

Kieron L Jones3 May 2013

We now have access to the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).  ICPSR acquires, preserves, enhances and distributes original social science research data for research and instruction.  You will need to create an account in order to download data.

 “Our data advance scientific knowledge by making it possible for students, policymakers and researchers to conduct secondary analyses.  We are a leading training resource in quantitative analysis methods.

 Membership benefits

  • A wealth of data.  ICPSR provides access to important data in the social sciences and benefits all faculty and students across a campus.
  • Access to training and instruction at discounted rates.  Members of ICPSR receive discounted tuition and travel stipends toward ICPSR’s renowned Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research.
  • User support.  ICPSR has over 45 years of experience in supporting data use.”

International Historical Statistics

Kieron L Jones17 April 2013

We have a trial to International Historical Statistics until 11th May.

“The IHS series is a unique collection of statistics covering a wide range of socioeconomic topics. It is a collection of data sets taken from hundreds of disparate primary sources, including both official national and international abstracts – back to 1750. The new online edition provides updated statistics to 2010 – covering 260 years. The collection is a truly interdisciplinary resource; it will be of interest to academics, researchers and students in sociology, politics, history, economics, business, environment, international relations, geography and statistical studies and related professional services alike.”