A (Relatively) Quick Guide to Using SourceOECD
(by Rich Vining)

SourceOECD is the data portal for the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development and has an extensive collection of datasets on various economic topics gathered together into one location. It has the added advantage of allowing you to download the data you want into Microsoft Excel for immediate use. Alas, SourceOECD is also somewhat Byzantine in its organization, so we have produced the following guide to help you navigate your way through the maze.

When you enter SourceOECD (http://new.sourceoecd.org), you will immediately be taken to SourceOECD's main page, from which you can choose which of SourceOECD's resources you wish to access. To access the portals statistics databases, you can either click on the lavender "Statistics" tab at the top of the screen or click on the "Go to" drop-down menu and select "OECD Databases":

If you choose the first option, you will then be brought to a new page within the SourceOECD website. On this page, you will be presented with both search fields on the body of the page and a list of browsing options at the left margin. Here, we will be use the browse options rather than the search fields. The browse options on the left allow you to select which means through which you wish to access data (e.g. databases versus .pdf publications). To get to the statistical databases, place your mouse pointer over "OECD Databases", and a menu of database options will appear:



(Note - if you choose the "Go to" option, you will be taken directly to a different page listing all the statistical databases. The list is same as the one above; it is just displayed on a new page rather than as a menu in a current page.)

When you choose your desired database, you will then be taken to a new page listing the different categories of data that are available in that database. Next to each category, there will be either a smiling face or a frowning face indicating whether you have access to that particular category (don't ask). Here, we will choose the "Economic Outlook" database, which will take us to a page like the following:



To get to data within a category, you will then have to click on the "Tables" button to the right of the smiling face. When you do so, yet another new page will appear listing the tables within your chosen category of your chosen database, with smiling faces or frowns indicating whether you have access to a particular table:

To access the desired table, you can click on its title. Here, for example, we will click on the text that reads "Economic Outlook: Annual and quarterly data ... " Doing so will then take you to, yes, another page with an abstract for the table you have chosen, with a "Deliver Data" button at the bottom (the significance of which we will address imminently). This abstract will provide information such as what countries, years, or subject areas are included within the table:

To get to the actual data themselves, click on the "Deliver Data" button at the bottom of the abstract. As we inch ever closer to the data, SourceOECD opens up a new window in your web browser where you can choose the countries, variables, and years for which you want data:

The process for selecting your variables and cases involves a sequence of steps in which you advance to a new page within SourceOECD for each variable you choose. With this example, we will get some data on annual unemployment in some "developed" countries. So, we will start the selection process by choosing which countries we want. To do so, we will first click on the yellow folder next to the "OECD Countries" category. Clicking on this folder will display the list of countries within this category. Here, we will chose Australia by clicking the box to its left:



Once you have finished making your selections for one variable, you can move on to the next variable by either clicking on that variable's name under the "Selection" heading to the left or by clicking on "Continue" on the right, midway down the screen. In this example, each of these options will take us to a page listing the economic variables available in this database:



To choose variables, click on the yellow folder(s) next to the category(categories) that you want, and a list of variables within that folder/category will appear. Here, since we want data on unemployment, we will choose the "Labour Markets" folder. Note that when you click on a folder, you may need to scroll up or down the list to find the variables that you want. If the list is especially long, you will need to click on the blue arrows above the list of folders to "Page Up" or "Page Down" and see the remainder of the list of available variables. Here, for instance, we will scroll down a ways and select the "Unemployment" and "Unemloyment Rate" by clicking on the boxes to their left:



[Note - something to keep in mind when using SourceOECD is that it generally does not provide much internal documentation on the variables in terms of what they actually measure, how they are operationalized, and so on. There will occasionally be text-file icons to the right of variables on which you can click to provide some extra information. If, for example, you click on the text-file icon next to the "Labour Markets" folder, you will see something like the following:



(Also note that in the lower-left corner, there is a SpongeBob SquarePants-like icon for the "Beyond 20/20" browser software that SourceOECD uses in its interface. No word yet on whether the World Bank will adopt Mr. Krabs or Squidward as the icon for the World Development Indicators interface.)

For more detailed information on the data and how they were gathered, you will often have to consult the print or .pdf edition of whatever database you are using. SourceOECD has .pdf version of many of its statistical publications available as well for searching and downloading.]

Once these selections have been made, we will proceed to the next screen to choose the time periods that we want. With this database, we have the option of getting data in annual and/or quarterly increments:



[Keep in mind that the increments in which data from SourceOECD are available vary from database to database. Some databases have data only in annual increments while others have data down to monthly increments.]

Here, we will choose data in annual increments (i.e. yearly data). To do so, we will click on the folder next to "Annual," which will cause a list of the available years to appear. Now, you can choose whatever years you want. Here, we will just choose data for all the available years, which can be done through two steps:

(1) Check "Entire folder" next to "Selection Method":



(2) Check the box next to the "Annual" folder; then, all the available years will be selected:



Note that the years will then be selected for you automatically. The screen will now appear as follows:



When you have finished determining what countries, variables, years, and so on that you want from the database, click on either "Continue" at the right or "View Report" under the "Options" heading at the left. Your data will then be displayed in a table:

If the default format in which the data are displayed is not to your liking, then you can rearrange how the data are displayed by clicking on variables and dragging them to new locations. For example, we can "drag" the 'Time Period' variable like so:



so that our data will now be arranged as follows:



Your data will now appear in the desired manner.

If you wish to save your data into a spreadsheet, click on the "Download report data to:" drop-down menu near the top center of the screen. You will then be given various choices for how to save your data:



For smaller files, the Microsoft Excel (.xls) option should work without any problems. For larger files, you may need to save the data as a comma-delimited (.csv) file. Excel can easily read such files, and they can also be imported into SAS or SPSS or Stata very easily.

The databases within SourceOECD vary considerably in terms of coverage and content, and some of them require more steps to access the data than do others. The Economic Outlook datbase we have been using here is only partially representative of the datasets which SourceOECD has. To really familiarize yourself with what SourceOECD has to offer, we recommend that you explore different databases to see for yourself what the best ways to access SourceOECD data are.



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