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  September 20, 2004

Roper Center's Website Offers Easy Access
To Survey And Demographic Information

If you're interested in public attitudes about biotechnology or the war in Iraq, the efficacy of herbal medicine, or political issues in a particular city, a storehouse of data is now available online.

A new website launched by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research earlier this year ( makes it easier than ever for members of the UConn community to access the information.

Datalink was developed by the Roper Center to help faculty, students, and staff find and use survey and demographic information. "We see it as a gateway to social science data at the University and around the world, " says Lois Timms-Ferrara, associate director of the Roper Center. "It provides methods for finding as well as support for accessing social science data resources for research and instruction."

The Roper Center is the oldest and largest archive of polling data in the world, with data from more than 15,000 major national and international surveys spanning nearly 70 years, and the first-ever online information retrieval system for over 400,000 public opinion questions from the United States.

The Datalink website offers help in finding census data, public opinion polls, criminal justice statistics, substance abuse survey data, voting behavior and elections and aging data. It also offers assistance in how to gain access to comprehensive data collections through the Roper Center, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), and other data archives worldwide.

"We hope Datalink helps to promote and enhance quantitative research on campus," Timms-Ferrara says. Faculty can incorporate quantitative analysis in their grant proposals, teaching, professional journals, articles, and books, and graduate and undergraduate students may use the data for class research papers, dissertations, and other projects, she notes.

"By maintaining and providing access to the world's largest archive of survey data, the Roper Center strives to improve the practice of survey research and the use of survey data in the United States and abroad," she says.

Datalink gives faculty an assortment of classroom tools for using quantitative data, instructions on depositing data with an archive, a bibliographic database for contributing citations of published works that analyze social science information, and a FAQ list to address issues important to researchers.

Students will find a link called "Getting Started" helpful. It teaches them how to use Datalink to find information, and offers advice on what can be expected from the many data resources available on the Internet, says Timms-Ferrara.

One of the first things a student should ask is, "Do I want the data in summary statistics and reports, or raw data files?" she says. "There's a big difference in skills, effort, and research outcomes between working with summary statistics and generating your own. We want students to understand that, so it's easier for them to target the necessary data."

Online tutorials, such as Polling 101, offer students a glimpse into some of the fundamentals of public opinion polling. Polling 101 provides definitions, examples, and explanations to introduce them to the field of public opinion research. There is also an online and printable tutorial on the use of iPoll, a comprehensive database of nearly half a million questions asked on public opinion surveys since 1935.

In addition to regularly scheduled workshops, the Roper Center can provide customized training in use of the Center's resources. Those interested may visit the website for more information, or call 860.486.4440.