The social sciences -- which can range from psychology to history by way of sociology, economics, and demography, depending on your definition -- were quick to use computational techniques and data and not shy to adopt computer-assisted research strategies as these came along. Not surprisingly, the web contains a plethora of sites that either offer help in finding this kind of information or let you search the data files directly to answer a question or prepare a file that can be subjected to further analysis. Here are a few of our favorites:
Clearinghouses -- that is, organized collections of pointers to other sites -- are maintained by the Louisiana Population Data Center (population and demographics primarily but not exclusively for the U.S. and a directory to information maintained by federal agencies, organized by agency); the Social Science Information Gateway, or SOSIG (international with concentration on Europe); University of Michigan (try searching under "statistics"); the Government Information Sharing Project (U.S. -- also reported in the March issue of this magazine); the Social Science Data Center at the University of Virginia; the World Wide Web Virtual Library (international with a focus on demographic data); and the National Science Foundation (very good for analysis of and data on science and engineering education as well as pointers to other federal sites). The Library of Congress also contains pointers to many sources of stat e and fede ral statistical information, but finding these can take some digging. That said, some amazing resources are out there: a pointer from one of the Library's pages will take you to a page (on a gopher service) that will let you search Illinois public land sales back to the mid-nineteenth century by last name, number of acres, price, county, and date of purchase. A search on "lincoln" yielded more than 50 records of which three, dating to 1835 and 1836, were associated with "abraham".
Getting Information On-Line -- U.S.
A number of sites will help you search databases of public information using forms interfaces. The Regional Economic Information System (REIS), maintained by the University of Virginia, provides local area economic data for states, counties, and metropolitan areas for 1969-1993. Available information includes personal income by source, per-capita personal income, earnings by two digit SIC code, full and part time employment by industry, and regional economic profiles. LOOK-UP (a project at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which was reported in this magazine in March) provides interactive access to 1990 census data; 1970 and 1980 data are available via FTP. The U.S. Census Bureau makes interactive software and data access and display tools available via the web. DataMap provides map-based access to 1990-1994 data at the state and county level (choose a state from a map of the U.S., and then choose a county from the state map). WWW Thematic Mapping System is an experimental system that offers users a self-defined geographic, data visualization tool, based on 1994 census data. Finally the Tiger Map Service helps users generate maps on the fly, based on user-defined criteria.
Getting Started Overseas
Several sites offer routes into international collections of statistical data. Statistics Netherlands - Links to Statistical Agencies has sections devoted to "International", "Europe", "America", "Asia," and "Oceania". Some of these take you interactive data sources, such as the World Agricultural Information Centre. Others take you to sites, such as EUROSTAT, which contain information about the structure of existing data and offices from which the information may be obtained. The United Nations maintains similar information, providing access to information on conferences, publications, and other statistical agencies as well as several interactive databases. Interactive databases containing information on Russia and Eastern Europe are available via REESWeb.
|Australian SunSITE||http://sunsite.anu.edu.a u/|
|CATRIONA: List of Sources Related to Cataloging, etc.||http://www.bubl.bath.ac.uk/BUBL/catlinks.html|
|Government Information Sharing Project||http://govi nfo.kerr.orst.edu/index.html|
|IEEE Computer Society||http://www.computer.org|
|Library of Congress||http://www.loc.gov/|
|Library of Congress - State Information||http://lcweb.loc.gov/global/state/stategov.html|
|LOOK-UP (U.S. Census data, 1990)||http://cedr.lbl.gov/cdrom/doc/lookup_doc.html|
|Louisiana Population Data Center||http://lapop.lsu.edu/ pop.html|
|National Science Foundation||http://www.nsf.gov:80/sbe/srs/stats.htm|
|Reading the Future, The Hon. Sir Anthony Mason||http://www.nla.gov.au/nla/staffpaper/mason.html|
|Regional Economic Information System (REIS) -- University of Virginia||http://www.lib.virginia.edu/socsci/reis/reis1.html|
|Social Science Data Center at the University of Virginia||http://www.lib.v irginia.edu/socsci/|
|Social Science Information Gateway (SOSIG)||http://sosig.ac.uk/|
|Statistics Netherlands -- Links to Statistical Agencies||http://www.cce.ufes.br/statagen.html|
|TexShare: Resources for Building Digital Libraries on the Web||http://www.texshare.edu/TexShareServices/Professional/d igital.html|
|Tiger Map Service||http://tiger.census.gov/|
|University of Michigan||http://www.lib.umich.edu/chhome.html|
|University of Missouri: WWW search interface based on OCLC's SiteSearch WebZ software||http://sequoia.lso.missouri.edu:4300/|
|U.S. Census Bureau||http://www.census.gov/ftp/pub/main/www/access.html|
|U.S. Census data, 1970 and 1980, available via FTP from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory||http://cedr.lbl.gov/mdocs/LBL_census.html|
|World Agricultural Information Center||http://www.fao.org/WAICENT/waicent.htm|
|World Wide Web Virtual Library (demography)||http://coombs.anu.edu.au/ResFacilities/DemographyPage.ht ml|
|WWW Thematic Mapping System||http://www.census.gov/themapit/www/|