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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 through the Nesstar platform available 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)

Statistics Canada data includes previous and current Censuses of Canada, CANSIM, the National Population Health Survey, the Social Survey Programme, and much more

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
  • Data Liberation Initiative files
  • GIS datasets
  • Geospatial data

Nesstar server:

  • Provides access to Statistics Canada and select other surveys at the variable level along with metadata and other related material
  • Allows you to generate charts, tables and graphs
  • Enables you to customize results and export to SPSS, SAS, STATA and CSV formats

Statistics Canada Nesstar server:

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 and here.

 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. 

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

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

Open Data

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.

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.