1. Access


 Obtaining Data:

Q. Who is permitted to access data through ISSDA?

A. Any student or researcher from any organisation, country or field of study can apply to ISSDA to access our datasets. Access to some datasets may be restricted in some cases, for example:

Teaching Purposes: To check which datasets can be used for teaching purposes please refer to ISSDA’s data page (www.ucd.ie/issda/data ) where the “Purpose” column will indicate this. If the “Purpose” column indicates that the dataset can be used for teaching purposes please fill out a teaching request form located on the ISSDA website. The license is for once-off use of data. Should you wish to use the data again when re-running the module, please submit a new request form.

Commercial Purposes: To check if you can use the datasets for commercial purposes please contact us at issda@ucd.ie and we will contact the data provider to check on your behalf.

Q. Is there a charge to access data through ISSDA?

A. Accessing data through ISSDA is a free service and there is no charge.

Q. For how long can I use the data?

A. On the application form you must indicate the estimated end data for the use of the data. This is limited to a maximum of 5 years. If after this time you still need access to the data for the same project you must reapply for the data.


Q. How do I obtain the dataset?

A. In order to access the data you need to first submit an application form which you can access through the following link: http://www.ucd.ie/issda/data/  (the link to the request form is located at the top of the web page). The application form is also accessible through the webpages of individual datasets. The form needs to be signed by you (the End User) as it is an End User Licence Agreement. You can then scan the application form or attach a jpeg of your signature and email it to us at: issda@ucd.ie or post it to us at: Irish Social Science Data Archive (ISSDA), UCD Library,  Level 3, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.



Q.  How do you send out the dataset?

A. Datasets are sent out via a secure online download service, called FileSender. The datasets are password protected and encrypted, and require either the following software, PKWARE (Windows only) zip reader or Keka(Mac), to decrypt the file. Further instructions will be sent with each dataset. Please note that this is our preferred delivery method. Should you wish to receive the data via another method, please contact us to discuss prior to sending this data request form.


 Re-use of Data:

Q. Can I distribute the dataset I received from you to my colleagues?

A.  You can distribute the dataset to colleagues who you have already listed on the Data Request Form.

Q. How can I distribute the dataset to colleagues other than those named on the Data Request Form?

A. If you wish to add new colleagues please inform us at issda@ucd.ie and we will add them to your current application form. When contacting us please inform us of the name of the person who originally applied for the dataset.

Q.  Can I use the dataset I received for a different project other than that outlined in my original application form?

A. You will need to submit an additional form for all projects not previously stated to issda@ucd.ie.



Q. I want to use a dataset for teaching purposes – is this possible?

A. Many data providers will allow their datasets to be used for teaching purposes. To check which do please refer to ISSDA’s data page (www.ucd.ie/issda/data ) where the “Purpose” column will indicate this. To apply, please fill out a teaching request form located on the ISSDA website. The license is for once-off use of data. Should you wish to use the data again when re-running the module, please submit a new request form.


 Turnaround time:

Q. Can you let me know approximately how long it will take to receive the dataset(s)?

A. We usually send out the data within a couple of hours of receiving the application form once it is signed and the agreed usage does not contravene the terms of the End User Licence.


 License to use:

Q. What are the terms of use of the End User Licence Agreement?

A. The following is a summary of the terms found in the End User Licence Agreement.

  • You can only use the dataset for the purposes as laid down by the original data creator or depositor.
  • If it is wished to use the data for any other purpose enquiries should be made to ISSDA at issda@ucd.ie.
  • Only the End User and those listed in Appendix 1 of the application form should have access to the data.
  • The End User is responsible for controlling access to the data.
  • Means of access to the datasets (for example passwords) should be kept secure and not disclosed to a third party.
  • The Licence does not serve to transfer any interest in intellectual property from the data collection funders, the ISSDA, the original data creators or depositors, copyright or other right holders to the End User.
  • Users should not disclose information which might result in the identification of an individual.
  • The User should acknowledge in any work based in whole or part on resources provided by the ISSDA, the original data creators, depositors or copyright holders and the ISSDA, and to declare, in any such work, that those who carried out the original analysis and collection of the data bear no responsibility for the further analysis or interpretation of it.
  • All works should acknowledge that copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the data and associated documentation are vested in the original data creators or depositors.


2. Receipt of Dataset



Q.  I haven’t received the link to access the datasets from Filesender. Do I need to register for Filesender?

A. You do not need to register for Filesender. Firstly, if you didn’t receive an email from FileSender containing the link to download the file, please check your spam folder. If you still cannot locate the email from Filesender after checking your spam folder please contact us at: issda@ucd.ie.



Q. I cannot open the dataset that I received. Is it encrypted?

A.  The files we send you will not open if you simply go in to the files and enter the password. They are encrypted, as well as zipped. You will need a password and specialist software to decrypt the file (PKWARE for Windows only and Keka for Mac only). The password and instructions for decryption are sent in an email following delivery of the dataset through Filesender.

Q.  Unfortunately I can’t open the files as the password I was given does not work.

A. A common issue is that there are usually spaces put in before or after the password which would mean it wouldn't work. Another problem may be that there is already some other software on your computer that is trying to open the file. This software may well present you with an opportunity to input a password. However as stated in the original email sent, the file and password we send will only open with PKWARE (Windows only) or Keka (Mac) (Winzip doesn't work). Please double-check that you have the right software downloaded (e.g. PKWARE (Windows) or Keka (Mac) and then try to locate the files through the correct software. Also, sometimes people have difficulties opening the files on a work/university PC; where this is the case you may need to consult with your own IT people.



Q. How do I access PKWARE and Keka?

A. PKWARE (Windows only)

1. Go to the webpage: http://www.pkware.com/.

2. Click on “products” on the right hand side of the screen.

3. Scroll down the webpage and go to the PKZIP section.

4. Within this section download zip reader by PKWARE (all the others are only free trials so will expire whereas zip reader is completely free and does not expire).

Keka (Mac only)

1. Go to the webpage: http://www.kekaosx.com/en/.

2. Click download Keka (requires Mac OS × 10.6 or newer).

Q. Can I use other software such as Winzip?

A. We know files will open with PKWARE and Keka. You may have other decryption software on your computer, for example Winzip, that can attempt to open the files and even provide you with an opportunity to enter a password; however, our password may not work with these other decryption softwares, and we know that Winzip will not work. 



Q. The password for the previous file sent to me seems to be expired.

A. The password does not expire - only the ability to download the file from FileSender. Once you have extracted the data out of the password protected zip file, you should be able to use the data (in a secure environment) indefinitely. When you downloaded the files from Filesender or disc, it saves to your local machine, so you should still have the files. However, if it has been over one month since you received the file and you never downloaded it you will need to contact ISSDA at issda@ucd.ie.

Q. The password you gave me doesn’t work.

A. Please see question relating to ‘can I use other software such as Winzip?’ in the ‘software’ section.


File formats:

Q. What file formats do the datasets come in?

A. Most of our datasets come in SPSS or SAS formats. We do, however, have some datasets that are also available in CSV, SAS and Stata. Please see the ISSDA Data webpage for more information relating to particular datasets: http://www.ucd.ie/issda/data/.

Q. When I try to open the dataset it opens up a text doc that is full of numbers and words rather than the data?

A. In general, in order to be able to access data for the different studies you need to open it using the appropriate software. For example, a dataset that comes in the format of SPSS  needs to be opened using SPSS software, a dataset that comes in an SAS format needs to opened using SAS software.

Q.  Can I get the dataset in an alternative format to the one mentioned on the ISSDA website?

A. Most of our datasets are in SPSS or SAS format; you are welcome to apply for these datasets and convert them if you wish. Unfortunately we cannot change the format for you. The Institute for Digital Research and Education’s website: https://stats.idre.ucla.edu/other/mult-pkg/faq/how-do-i-convert-among-sas-stata-and-spss-files/ may be of use to you.

Another useful page is ISSDA’s table: Different File Formats and Their Programmes.

3. Analysis



Q. I’m having problems trying to understand this dataset – can you advise?

A. Please check the following:

            - Codebook, data dictionary, survey

            - Any other documentation provided by ISSDA

            - Project’s own website

            - Your MA / PhD supervisor

            - Consider whether data may be missing due to anonymisation

- Consider whether data may be missing because you are looking for a derived variable

If you are still having problems please contact ISSDA at issda@ucd.ie – we will pass your specific query on to the original research team for you.

Q. If I have a query how do I contact you?

A. If you need any assistance please email us at: issda@ucd.ie.


Versions: AMF vs. RMF:

Q. I need access to both the Anonymised Microdata File (AMF) and the Researcher Microdata File (RMF)?

A. The Anonymised Microdata File (AMF) is the only data lodged with ISSDA. Please see the Access section of our FAQs for more information on how to apply to ISSDA for the datasets.

Some studies include a Researcher Microdata File (RMF), which is more detailed.

N.B. Access to the RMF is strictly controlled and requires an application and clearance process and is subject to the full rigour and penalties of the Statistics Act, 1993.

In some cases access is by on-site appointment only. Please note that making an application does not imply that access will be granted. Please also note that the RMF application process can take some time.

Please navigate to the webpage of the particular dataset you require for further details on accessing the RMF http://www.ucd.ie/issda/data/.



Q. Some variables which I need are omitted from the dataset I received. How I can get them?

A. Because of some data protection policies, some data providers have omitted some variables from their dataset. Please see the dataset-specific FAQs for more information.


 File formats:

Q. Do the datasets come in different formats?

A. Please read the 'Receipt of Dataset' section and the question on 'what file formats do the datasets come in?'. 


Help with analysis:

Q.  Do you provide any help on data analysis?

A. We are unfortunately not in a position to be able to assist with data analysis. However, the Centre for Support and Training in Analysis and Research (CSTAR: www.cstar.ie) can do so, for a fee.