Frequently Asked Questions

For users of data

What do we mean by INDEPTH microdata?

INDEPTH microdata are data about individuals residing within the HDSS area to support research. It contains the basic demographic information and the events like birth, death and migrations. Microdata is carefully managed to protect confidentiality of the individuals.

How can I contribute to improving the catalog?

    You can:

  • Suggest improvements to the functionality of the catalog application we are using to power the Microdata Library. The application which drives our catalog is an open source application developed by the World Bank.
  • Inform us of problems found in any of the datasets listed in our catalog.
  • Send us any metadata and other materials you may have or may have generated while using a dataset you obtained from our catalog. Metadata is not always complete for all datasets, for example, variables and value labels may not be available for all datasets. If you create programs in Stata or SPSS to generate these labels and would like to share them with us then please send them to us.
  • Send us citations of published work done using datasets in our catalog. When sending a citation which you would like us to include for a particular dataset please provide the full citation along with the title and reference number of the dataset in our catalog. You can also send the citation in BibTex or Endnote format to us.
  • Inform us of datasets or catalogs that you think could be added to our catalog. We require that the DDI metadata be prepared and made available for the dataset (we can help with generating DDI's for datasets of particular interest). The data provided must be also free access. We make no guarantee that a dataset provided to us will be included in the catalog.

Send your suggestions to

I need a dataset which is not listed in your central catalog, but which has been used in INDEPTH publications. Can you help me obtain these data?

No. The INDEPTH Network has access to datasets for specific and internal use. If the dataset is not in our catalog, it means that (i) we have no authorization to release these data, or (ii) the data and metadata are not ready for dissemination. We are working with data providers and we advocate more open access to data. We are supporting many countries to document and release datasets, and we are working on adding datasets regularly to our catalog. We hope to make datasets you are interested in available.

I am interested in knowing what are the existing research outputs associated with a dataset listed in your catalog. Do you maintain a bibliography of data-related citations?

This is a work in progress. We have started adding citations of publications using our datasets. We expect to extend this to all other surveys. We are working with the International Household Survey network ( IHSN) who is leading the establishment of a central citations catalog. When ready, this will be made accessible through our catalogs.

Can you help with analyzing the data?

No. We do not have the analysing tools on this repository. We make all metadata we have accessible to users. You can use any standard analysis tool on our datasets.

I have used other survey catalogs which provide a search by topic and keyword. Why don't you provide such a tool?

This would indeed be a very useful feature. We have considered using a standardized multi-lingual topic classification and a keyword thesaurus. Implementing this on a systematic basis would require resources we currently do not have. Many of the datasets listed in our catalog are collected from external catalogs, implementing multi-lingual topic classifications and a keyword thesaurus would require all our contributing catalogs to do the same. This would be difficult to achieve and reduce the number of surveys we can include in our portal. Such a system may be considered in the future.

What will you do with information I provide when I register, login, or submit a request for a licensed dataset?

What we do with registration and login information is governed by the terms of the INDEPTH Data Sharing and Access Policy. Information you provide when requesting access to licensed data files will be treated as restricted. It will be shared with the request review team, and may be shared with the data provider. But this information will not be made public.

Can I be automatically notified of changes or additions to the Microdata Library catalog?

A "Notify me" option will be added soon.

The catalog provides access to dataset in a specific file format. I would like to get the data in another format. Can you help?

In the catalogs maintained by the Microdata Library itself, data are provided in UTF-8 encoded text format. If the demand justifies it, we may consider adding other formats. We do not offer a service for data conversion. Software like StatTransfer, or the Nesstar Publisher (which is freeware) can be used to convert datasets into other formats.

I need a more comprehensive list of surveys and censuses conducted in low and middle-income countries. Where can I find that?

Our catalog is currently restricted to surveys for which microdata are made available to analysts. The surveys in our catalog are obtained from a network of contributing member centres.


For data producers and curators

What are the benefits of having my dataset listed in the INDEPTH Microdata Library catalog?

The main benefit is the high visibility of the INDEPTH data site. The Data website is visited by many users. This will imply increase use of your data, more potential feedback from users and will often satisfy sponsors requirements that data be made accessible for secondary analysis.

I want to contribute a dataset or a survey catalog to the Microdata Library. What are the conditions?

The Microdata Library is a DDI-based catalog (DDI is the international XML metadata standard we use to document and catalog datasets). A dataset will only be included in our catalog when we have DDI-compliant metadata. DDI metadata can be generated by data producers using a specialized DDI metadata editor, such as the free IHSN Microdata Management Toolkit. In some cases, the microdata Library generate the DDI metadata. The catalog is for any type of microdata from low- and middle-income countries, for which metadata is available without restriction, and for which data can be accessed free of charge under clearly defined conditions (as public use files, licensed files, or possibly in a data enclave).

  • We reserve the right to include or not datasets submitted to us.
  • People submitting datasets must have the legal authority to do so.
  • We do not pay providers of data

If I contribute datasets to the catalog, how will I be informed of the demand for my data?

The Microdata Library application generates detailed information on visits (and more) to our websites. This information is shared with contributing member centres.

Can I get help in implementing a catalog in my agency?

One of our key activities is technical support and capacity building: supporting data producers in member centres in adopting international good practices of curation and dissemination. We do this through training workshops and support thereafter.