Indian Council of
Social Science Research

FAQs: Data Users

Data is defined as “a reinterpretable representation of information in a formalized manner suitable for communication, interpretation, or processing” ( The types of data include: observational data, textual data, numerical data and statistical data etc. In social sciences, data is generally numeric files originating from social research methodologies or administrative records, from which statistics are produced. However, beside numerical data, other data formats include audio, video, geospatial and other digital content that are relevant to social science research. (

“A dataset is said to be open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it – Open Data shall be machine readable and it should also be easily accessible.” (

Data sharing is the practice of making data used for scholarly research available to other investigators/researchers. Several funding agencies, institutions, and scholarly publications have policies regarding sharing of data to encourage transparency and openness that is considered as an important part of the scientific research. There are various ways to share research data i.e. while a researcher may write article in a journal, a publishing in journal, book or conference proceedings; the associated data at unit level may be archived or submitted into a data repository etc.

Data Repository commonly refers to a storage location; often for safety, preservation, share, use, reuse, and manipulation of research data. Research Data Repository (RDR) generically refers to a central place where research data is stored and maintained. It can be a place where multiple databases, datasets or files are located for preservation and distribution over a network through an operational model; that is directly accessible to the user. It enhances the long-term preservation and usability of data deposited into it.

Indian Social Science Data Repository, called as “ICSSR Data Service”, is a national level data repository service for the social sciences. It is a project envisaged by ICSSR (Indian Council of Social Science Research) to facilitate data sharing, preservation, accessibility and reuse of social science research data collected from entire social science community in India & abroad. It is available at:

ICSSR Data Service is a national level data repository service on social sciences. It is funded by Indian Council of Social Science Research, Government of India with an initial and partial funding from Ministry of Statistical Planning and Implementation (MoSPI), Government of India.

The data repository mainly holds the unit-level statistical data of National Sample Survey (NSS) conducted by National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), and Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) conducted by Central Statistics Office (CSO) - Industrial Statistics (IS) wing; along with their supporting documents i.e. questionnaires, data collection methods, codebooks, and project summaries/descriptions etc. These unit-level NSS and ASI datasets are of very high-quality standardized data analyzed by eminent experts in the concerned fields. Also, appeal has been made to the ICSSR and its 27 constituent research centres to submit their research data in the repository.

The unit-level NSS and ASI data available in the data repository come from Ministry of Statistical Planning and Implementation (MoSPI), Government of India. Appeal has been made to the ICSSR and its 27 constituent research centres to submit their research data in the repository. Further, the data service has plan to collect and deposit research data from Indian universities, academic and research institutions; and other individual/independent researchers, private firms, NGOs etc.

In the data repository, the unit-level statistical data are available mostly in Excel, CSV, SPSS, and STATA formats. While, the supporting documents are in Plain text, Word, PDF, and HTML formats. However, the data repository supports other machine-readable formats too.

The NSS and ASI datasets available in the ICSSR Data Service are very much standardized and include high quality unit-level statistical data which has been collected and analysed by eminent experts, and organizations involved in national level data collection, social and studies. Thus, it may be a good choice for a social science researcher to start a secondary research with the help of these freely available datasets, rather than doing it all again from start which may prove to be a costly matter too. However, a researcher can use these data in a number of other ways too i.e. course works, study, writing article, etc.

Datasets available in the repository are free to access and reuse for further study, research, teaching and learning. These datasets are well organized according to their data characteristics. Users can search through the available Search Interface to find out or locate their desired data/information. Users can also search the Data Catalogue which allow them to search by title, creator, keywords, description, subject, coverage, series, or identifier etc. After finding their desired data, users can analyse the data online or export/download the datasets. The repository has a number of open datasets too.

Yes, it is necessary for a researcher to register to gain access to the data available in the data repository except the open data. After registration, the researcher will be provided a log-in id & password to use the repository and download datasets.
The process of registration to ICSSR Data Service is same for all users. Please, go through the Registration Process to register yourself.

You can easily search our data collections to find the data that is of interest to you by searching in data catalogue which is thematically organized using appropriate keywords, themes and sub-themes.

Yes, a researcher can analyse the data using various variables available in the datasets through our in-built online analysis platform.

Yes, a researcher can download/export the datasets available in the data repository, output of his/her online analysis to his own system for further analysis & reuse of the data.

No, there are no charges to use the data available in ICSSR data service. The datasets available in the repository are freely available for study and secondary research purposes but not for commercial use.

Yes, you must provide a reference to the data/datasets used from the ICSSR Data Service in all of your work. It’s a healthy academic and research practice to provide information regarding sources of data used in your work.
For Example:
Central Statistics Office (Industrial Statistics Wing), MOSPI, Government of India. Annual Survey of Industries: 1983-84 [computer file]. × Edition. Kolkata, India: ICSSR Data Service [distributor], October 2012. SN: ×, DOI/Handle
Please, go through the link: How to Cite Data?

You may not need a software program to use the data. The raw data can be analysed and explored online through our in-built online tool. However, you have liberty to download and use the datasets using statistical software such as Excel, SPSS, STATA, etc.

No, there are no restrictions on access of data for personal use. But, data should be used only for research, study and teaching purposes, not for any other commercial benefits.

Not necessarily. Restriction on access to data is solely based on the types/kinds of the particular data, access policies as imposed by the data owner and depositor’s license. Users should keep in mind that these data are solely for secondary research, to be used for research study and teaching purposes not for commercial benefits.

Yes, the repository has a number of open datasets.

FAQs: Data Depositors

The value of any research data lies in their use and reuse. In addition, publicly funded research data are produced in the public interest and therefore shall be shared widely. When data are managed well, it can be shared and reused for further scientific and educational purposes. As such, data repository enhances the long-term usability of preserved data. As such, you are encouraged to submit/deposit your research data into the ICSSR Data Service, a national level data repository service that facilitate data sharing, preservation, access and reuse of research data in social sciences collected from entire social science community in India.
Depositing data into the repository has great benefits for the data owner and its users. The ICSSR Data Service ensures long-term preservation and access, sharing and reuse of data on researcher’s (depositor) behalf. The data repository promotes the impact & visibility of the data deposited into it. Further, the deposited data may be very useful for other researchers working in the same field; in return the depositor would be getting due credit with a citation from the users which will directly enhance his/her research profile and impact.

Basically, there are two ways for data-owners to deposit their research data into the data repository i.e. in on-line or through off-line way. Data-owners may upload datasets on-line with all its supporting documents in appropriate formats into the repository along with the filled and signed copies of prescribed Data Deposit Form and Licence Agreement Form, or else they may sent their data through e-mail to the designated e-mail id. Data-owners may have the option to send their data off-line too by sending it through postal or courier services to the “Data Collection Team, ICSSR Data Service”. For further issues or clarifications, please contact our Data Collection Team or you may visit How to Deposit Data?

Data preparation is an important component of a research project from the beginning of your research till the deposition in the repository. The data should carry appropriate data labels, supporting documentation, survey methodology/questionnaires, etc.

Yes, there is a detailed step-by-step guideline available on the ICSSR Data Service website ( on creation, preparation, and management of data throughout the research data life cycle for data sharing.
Please, go through the Data Deposit and Access Policy Guideline.

After submission of data in the repository, your data would further go for a data quality check, data pre-processing and ingestion process by the data experts from ICSSR Data Service who would evaluate the data quality, consistency, documentation, metadata, etc. Then only, a submitted data qualify for deposition into the repository.

The ICSSR Data Service facilitates access to the data based on the recommendation/request of the data-owner at the time of signing license agreement. Based on that, the data service decides the data embargo period, data access etc. Basically, there are three types of access control on the datasets available in the repository:

  • Open Data: Data is available freely in open access to one and all without any restrictions.
  • Safeguarded Data: Data can be access only to the registered users once they agree to the terms and conditions of data usage policy displayed to them at the time of request.
  • Controlled Data: Controlled access through Secured Lab. Different versions of same data sets may be derived for its open and controlled access.
Please, go through the Data Access Policies.

The most potential users of your data will be within the higher education and research communities though data may also be used by researchers from cross-sectional/sectors such as central & local government, private firms & researchers, etc. Data are mostly used for secondary research and teaching purposes to study research methodologies, etc.

Yes, ICSSR Data Service provides usage of data for those datasets that require user registration to access. If you wish to know the detailed usage of your data deposited by you, you may write to us.

Yes, there is a license agreement that the owner of data is required to sign with the ICSSR Data Service. As per the licence document, data owner gives non-exclusive rights to the ICSSR Data Service to preserve and share its data in the repository while the copyright of the data belongs to data owners. The Data Service ensures that the personal and private information about the data owner would not be disclosed in any manner.

The data owner (Researcher, Investigator, Institute, etc.) remains the rightful owner of the copyright of their data deposited in the repository.

Yes, the data deposited by you can always be used by you or anyone else with due acknowledgement.

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