Microdata resources: Data & statistics information

The SFU Library Data Collection is comprised primarily of computer-readable data files and their accompanying documentation (also known as codebooks).

Use data when you:

  • Need to do analysis
  • Wish to generate visualizations such as tables and maps

The data collection is stored remotely or on the Abacus Data Services server, and may be accessed directly by end users. Some Reference copies of data documentation may be available for consultation. Most of the data documentation accompanying data files are available in PDF format on the Abacus Data Server.

The SFU Library's Data collection is obtained from two main data sources:

  • Statistics Canada (for Canadian data) via our membership in the Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) ; and the
  • ICPSR (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research).

The SFU Library provides access to DLI data files, suitable for use with statistical packages such as SPSS, SAS or STATA, in several different ways:

Researchers may directly download a survey (including documentation) for analysis, and/or

  • Create subsets of various files via the Abacus data services.
  • Some selected  survey files are also available as CD-ROM Products, and may have various access tools (B20/20, SPSS, Excel)
  • Census Public Use Microdata Files are also available via the Canadian Census Analyzer

Use of data files may be subject to license restrictions. The following is not meant to be an exhaustive list; for more information, please contact SFU Library Data Services.



  • Social survey files
  • Public Use Microdata Files
  • BC Assessment Data
  • GIS datasets
  • Geospatial data

Statistics Canada Restricted Use Data
Application must be made through Statistics Canada's Research Data Centre located on campus
Please note that not all Statistics Canada data is made available though the RDCs (or at all); see lists of available RDC data here.

Rich Data Services (RDS)
RDS is Statistics Canada’s analytical platform for Public Use Microdata files (PUMFs) and their metadata. Replacing Nesstar, the RDS Explorer and Tabulation Engine's user-friendly interfaces allow users to browse, interact, and download data and metadata for online or offline analysis. The platform includes the RDS Explorer to browse the data records, create custom extracts by filtering records and selecting variables, and produce personalized open data packages for download, and the Tabulation Engine to aggregate data across various dimensions to rapidly create analytical tables.

If you're new to RDS, please have a look the following guides courtesy of Memorial University Library:

Ipsos Canadian Public Affairs Dataverse
The Ipsos Canadian Public Affairs Dataverse is a repository of over 60 Ipsos Canada surveys that shed light on Canadian culture, politics, and society. All data is open access. This resource is available from Wilfrid Laurier University thanks to a donation by Ipsos Canada. 

Federated Research Data Repository
Search FRDR to find research datasets originating from researchers affiliated with Canadian institutions

First Nations Information Governance Center
FNIGC Data Online is an easy, no-cost way for researchers, academics, policy-makers and students to access FNIGC’s significant data resources about First Nations reserve communities.

United States

InterUniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)
SFU is a member of ICPSR. Researchers can access and download data after creating an ICPSR account

Developed by the United States' federal statistical agencies and units, ResearchDataGov serves as the single portal for discovery of restricted data in the U.S. federal statistical system. In most cases, users can download supplemental documentation such as codebooks but must apply to request the data. Detailed metadata such as description, scope, methodology, as well as access provisions (useful for non-US researchers) is given for each dataset.

American Community Survey
The American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) files are a set of untabulated records about individual people or housing units. The US Census Bureau produces the PUMS files so that data users can create custom tables that are not available through pretabulated (or summary) ACS data products.


Access to the documentation is freely available without restriction; however, users must apply for access to the data. The application system requires a description of an applicant's proposed research, and asks for the user's institutional affiliation and other information to verify identity. Every application is individually reviewed by project staff.

Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA)
Provides access to data across repositories, nations, languages and research purposes; application to access data is required

World Bank Microdata Library
The Microdata Library is a collection of datasets from the World Bank and other international, regional and national organizations

UK Data Archive
Home to the UK's largest collection of social, economic and population data for over 50 years, we provide researchers with training, support and data access as lead partner of the UK Data Service.

Open Data

Increasingly, data creators including governmental and inter-governmental agencies, academics and others, are making their datasets findable and freely accessible online. Open data available online is typically assigned an Open license, of the kind laid out by the Open Knowledge Foundation or the Creative Commons.

Government of Canada Open Data
Search open data that is relevant to Canadians, learn how to work with datasets, and see what people have done with open data across the country.

A Canadian research data discovery tool which searches a variety of multidisciplinary data repositories. Note: not all datasets linked here are open.

The B.C. Data Catalogue provides the easiest access to government's data holdings, as well as applications and web services. Thousands of the datasets discoverable in the Catalogue are available under the Open Government License - British Columbia. 

Data Portals
A comprehensive and curated list of open data portals from around the world.

A registry of research data repositories.

Ostensibly a service providing DOIs to ensure persistent access to research including data, DataCite also enables researchers to locate data.

A subsidiary of Google, Kaggle provides a platform for users to find and publish data sets in addition to other services including tutorials.


Looking for something unusual? How about the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database?
Provided by the University of Edinburgh, this database provides access to 4,000 records of accused witches and documentation of witchcraft beliefs.

Contact us

Not finding what you're looking for? Please contact Carla Graebner or data-services@sfu.ca for assistance.