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What is a codebook?

A codebook provides information on the structure, contents, and layout of a data file. Users are strongly encouraged to look at the codebook of a study before downloading the data file(s).

While codebooks vary widely in quality and amount of information given, a typical codebook includes:

Additionally, codebooks may also contain:

The following example illustrates the main components of a typical SAMHDA codebook using the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 2012 (ICPSR 34933):

Title Page
Bibliographic Citation
Data Collection Description
Codebook Body

The body of a codebook describes the content of the data file. The following elements are generally included for each variable in the data file: