Robust data is a fundamental part of health sciences research studies and critical to research success. Secondary data, because of its cost-effectiveness and efficiency comparing to primary data, is commonly used in the field for various purposes such as to understand the topic at hand and assess the knowledge gap, to help define research questions, even to inform primary data collection needs.
Secondary data are typically sourced from governments on both state and local level, international organizations, NGOs as well as individual researchers. Columbia University Libraries provide access to a rich collection of specialized databases and archives. In this article, we want to feature two examples from the CU Numeric Data Collection.
Social Science Electronic Data Library (SSEDL)
The Social Science Electronic Data Library (SSEDL) is an extensive health and social science resource in cooperation with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Columbia University’s institutional subscription gives current Columbia University affiliates an all-access pass to the database product, which contains 318 datasets on topics including adolescent pregnancy, alternative medicine, disability, HIV/AIDS, mental health, substance abuse and more. SSEDL is unique because nearly 70% of its datasets are exclusive to the database.
SSEDL allows users to browse by topic or target population and to search by keywords. Search results include product name, investigators and a brief overview of the datasets. Each dataset page further features user’s guide and instructions/documentation, data files and other documentation (if applicable). Datasets can be downloaded for SAS, SPSS and STATA, while documentation files, user’s guides and questionnaires are view only. All downloadable materials are accompanied by the download icon.
ProQuest Statistical Insight
ProQuest Statistical Insight provides abstracting, indexing and full text for publications from the U.S. government from 1973, state and private sources from 1980 and international organizations from 1983. Some source examples include various HHS agencies such as CDC and the FDA, University Research Centers such as Columbia’s ISERP, Independent Research Organizations such as the Urban Institute, and the United Nations and its affiliates. Users can access full lists of sources covered in the database from the lists provided by ProQuest.
Statistical Insight enables users to search using keywords and filter results by publication source, countries and regions, subject, etc. Users will also be able to select and email a list of publications in which they are interested. Perhaps one of Statistical Insight’s best features is that all tables in the database are Excel files that have been extracted from the original text publication, hence they are directly editable after download. For detailed instructions on how to use Statistical Insight, refer to this help document.