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What Should My Deposit Include?

Deposits should include all data and documentation necessary to independently read and interpret the data collection. Key instructions for preparing data and documentation are listed below. For a discussion of best practice in preparing data for sharing, please refer to ICPSR's Guide to Social Science Data Preparation and Archiving, 5th Edition or contact us directly ( For a list of data sharing tips, see our Tips for Writing a Data Sharing or Data Management Plan.

The following components should be included in your deposit:

Data File

ICPSR encourages depositors to submit data files as SAS, SPSS, or Stata files. ASCII files are also acceptable as long as they are accompanied with data definition statements. Datasets in other formats are accepted as well.

Each variable in the data collection should have a set of exhaustive, mutually-exclusive codes. Variable labels and value labels should clearly describe the information or question recorded in that variable. When applicable, all identifying information should be removed from the records to ensure confidentiality.


Documentation files are integral to interpreting a data collection and should thoroughly explain the data collection. Examples of documentation files include codebooks, data collection instruments, summary statistics, project summaries, and bibliographies of publications pertaining to the data. Documentation can be submitted as Microsoft Word, ASCII, and DDI XML files , among other formats. Documentation that has the question text integrated with variable information is preferred.


Every new or revised ICPSR study includes a study description, which provides summary information about the data collection. Study descriptions are valuable resources to data users, and include both general information, such as study title and summary, and more detailed information about the study design and methodology. Much of the information used by ICPSR data archivists to create the study description comes from the ICPSR data deposit form. An MS Word file is provided to help you prepare and compile study description information before depositing your data.