Inter-university consortium for political and social researchVariant names
For historical note, please consult the finding aid for Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research records.
From the guide to the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research publications, 1962-2006, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)
The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) is an organization of member institutions that provides access to the world's largest archive of computer-based and instructional data for the social sciences.
Its primary purposes are to 1) acquire, develop, archive, and disseminate social science data and documentation, and 2) offer training in quantitative social analysis.
The Inter-university Consortium for Political Research (ICPR) was founded in the summer of 1962 as a partnership between the Institute for Social Research (ISR) at the University of Michigan and twenty-one universities in the United States.
From the description of Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research records, 1962-1992. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 78081245
The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) is an organization of member institutions that provides access to the world's largest archive of computer-based and instructional data for the social sciences. Its primary purposes are to 1) acquire, develop, archive, and disseminate social science data and documentation, and 2) offer training in quantitative social analysis. ICPSR has over 325 members in the United States and Canada and serves hundreds of institutions in Europe, Oceania, Asia, and Latin America. Headquarters and central staff of ICPSR are located at the University of Michigan. Although originally conceived to meet the needs of political analysts, ICPSR serves a wide spectrum of social scientists, including economists, sociologists, psychologists, geographers, and historians, as well as other specialists in education, public health, social work, public administration, urban affairs, foreign policy, business administration, law, criminal justice, and gerontology.
The Inter-university Consortium for Political Research (ICPR) was founded in the summer of 1962 as a partnership between the Institute for Social Research (ISR) at the University of Michigan and twenty-one universities in the United States. Warren Miller, director of the Political Behavior Program of ISR, became director of the ICPR. ICPR addressed several current problems, including the increasing amounts of political science data collected by a variety of investigators and agencies, the duplication of effort gathering data, and the lack of availability of data to other researchers. One catalyst for cooperation was the development of computer technologies for rapid processing of large amounts of quantitative data. The first members affirmed the following four objectives:
(1) the development of data resources; (2) the establishment of a formal training program for graduate students and faculty; (3) the stimulation and facilitation of new research; and (4) the operation of a clearinghouse for the improved communication of information about ongoing research.
To implement its goals, a council of five representatives was chosen to work with the Survey Research Center (SRC). Furthermore, a summer program for faculty and graduate students was planned for 1963. A computer for data processing was acquired, and ICPR processed data and distributed code and analysis books for SRC studies and other accessions. ICPR also obtained funding to develop a major data repository. Finally, it planned publications to coordinate research and publicize ICPR.
Within the next decade, ICPR concentrated on increasing the number of collections in the data archives beyond SRC's survey data and building a technological infrastructure for storing, processing, and retrieving data. It also expanded professional research training and increased their membership . Advisory committees, composed of leading researchers from member institutions, were formed to develop subject-specific data archives for the repository, such as the Survey Research Archive and the Historical Archive. The staff at ICPR also increased to manage the data archives, input the raw data into machine-readable form, program the computers, provide hardware and software consultation, and furnish complex combinations or computations according to researchers' requests. As membership grew, membership structure was revised into categories based on facilities. Each member institution had one representative on a committee of representatives, which served to elect a council of ten.
In 1970, the Political Behavior Program of ISR became a center in its own right, known as the Center for Political Studies (CPS). ICPR was housed in CPS, although decisions were still made by the ICPR board. Warren Miller became director of CPS, and Richard Hofferbert later became head of ICPR. In 1975, Jerome Clubb assumed directorship of ICPR. At this time, the name was changed to Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) to reflect the increasingly multi-disciplinary focus of its resources. Under Clubb, data holdings were expanded in the fields of social and political history, international relations, quality of life, work patterns, historical and contemporary consumer attitudes, and the roles of women. ICPSR relied heavily on outside funding for augmenting existing data collections and building new ones. In addition, ICPSR provided networked access to its resources and accommodated microcomputers using data. Furthermore, the educational mission was broadened to include undergraduates. Membership reached over 240 institutions by 1979.
The 1980s saw new challenges and opportunities for ICPSR. ICPSR faced greater magnitudes of data with increasing complexity, changes in computing technology, and the institutional distribution of social scientists. Because many institutions lacked the software and hardware to manipulate new forms of data, ICPSR was well positioned to supply specific subsets of data in forms compatible with members' computing systems. To meet the increasing popularity of microcomputers, ICPSR concentrated resources on the development of exportable computing technologies. Indexing was also improved to help researchers identify consortium data remotely. Moreover, the development of the Consortium Data Network and the National Science Foundation Network enhanced transfer and dissemination of consortium data. By automating processing and documentation, converting documentation into machine-readable form, and providing on-line storage for documentation and data, ICPSR thereby eliminated the need for tapes and human management. Throughout these changes, ICPSR remained committed to instructing professionals and students in quantitative analysis methodologies in the context of social science research. ICPSR also continued to acquire, process, and disseminate data collections on a wide variety of topics, including the census, media polls, health, aging, election returns, and criminal justice. In 1989, ICPSR had over 340 member institutions.
In the 1990s under the leadership of Richard C. Rockwell, ICPSR continued to grapple with the rapidly changing technology environment. A foremost priority was the distribution of data sets to users' desktop computers, either through the Internet or CD-ROMs. Other paramount concerns were data migration and the adoption of lasting hardware and software standards. Nevertheless, ICPSR continued to emphasize its commitment to promote and facilitate research and instruction in the social sciences. They also underscored its purpose as a central data repository and dissemination service, and developed proactive acquisitions policies to respond to changes in the social sciences.
Because ISR administers the activities of the ICPSR, the researcher should also consult the records of ISR at the Bentley Historical Library. Current information about ICPSR, including council minutes, membership structure, the constitution, and mission statement, is available on its web site (as of 2007) at:
1962- 1970: Warren Miller
1970- 1971: Samuel H. Barnes (acting)
1971- 1975: Richard Hofferbert
1975- 1991: Jerome Clubb
1991- 2000: Richard C. Rockwell
Hal Winbourough (acting)
2000- 2001: Erik Austin (acting)
2001- : Myron Gutmann
From the guide to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research records, 1962-2007, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)
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