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Downloadable study data on cannabis use or work ethic in the 1970s? Sure!

Published by Mark Bodnar

Consider this... Research did not begin on the day the WWW was invented in 1989.  

Obvious? Sure. But most of us (myself included) are so addicted to the easy access, downloading, and manipulation of online data, that we have blinders on when it comes to older data -- we assume it doesn't exist, will be too hard to transcribe from print, or will be impossible to find.

Yet research certainly did happen before our current digital age, and in many cases that research can provide some foundational knowledge that could help us understand the roots of modern trends.

All this to help you understand why I'm so pleased about the Library and Archives Canada (or as I like to call them, "the Mother Ship") contributions to the Government of Canada's Open Data portal. The LAC folks have gathered datasets from many past studies and converted them from their legacy file structures and encoding schemes so they can be used by contemporary computers... and by contemporary researchers like you!

Here are just a few samples of the many LAC open datasets that might appeal to SFU's Economics and Business researchers: 

  • Travel pattern survey  

    This file contains data collected from 1975 to 1976 on the modes, types and cost of transportation, as well as accommodation and meals of federal employees traveling on government business.

  • Drug Prices System history filecurrent prices file  

    These files contain data for the drug prices system, including drug prices and the dates these prices were effective for various quantities of a specific drug. The time span for the data is 1971 to 1976. 

  • Plastics industry survey  

    This file contains data collected in 1975 for a study to obtain a broad range of information about the plastics processing industry.  

  • National survey of work ethic among the Canadian population  

    This file contains data for a 1974 survey investigating the attitudes of Canadians toward work in general. 

  • Use of cannabis by adult Canadians  

    This file contains data from a 1978 study to determine self-reported use of cannabis by adult Canadians. 

  • Drug-related deaths in metropolitan Toronto  

    This file contains data collected from the records of 18 full-time and part-time coroners from in and around the metropolitan Toronto area in 1973. 

If you find such datasets deeply interesting, explore the rest of our federal government's Open Data portal as well as the many other Open Data collections out there, then come back home to check out our Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), ABACUS, and other data sources. 

Everything old really is new again in our current age of digitization!

Happy researching, 

-- Mark


Mark Bodnar

Business & Economics Librarian