Equinox is a sophisticated Internet-based data delivery system developed through a joint partnership between the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Western Ontario and the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities (CREPUQ). Based on the Internet Data Library System (IDLS) developed by Social Science Network and Data Services (SSNDS) at Western, Equinox features a bilingual user interface as well as metadata content in both English and French. All data users who are members of an Equinox member institution can use the system to search for and retrieve various types of data files for their research, instructional and learning needs. The data holdings include microdata, aggregated data, geographic products and data from other sources including Statistics Canada, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and Ontario Geospatial Data Exchange (OGDE). Data files are made available based on a subscription licensing model corresponding to the member institution's rights to use files distributed from the Data Liberation Initiative (DLI), Depository Services Program (DSP), Ontario Geo-Spatial Data Exchange (OGDE), or DMTI Spatial.
As a data user, you are encouraged to consult this guide to learn how to best utilize the various search and browse capabilities of Equinox. Search and browse options were designed with the user in mind, and efforts have been made to provide concise and logical access points from which you can find, review and retrieve files from the rich selection of data holdings. Comments, queries and suggestions related to Equinox are welcome, and can be submitted via the comments form.
Basic Search is the default entry point into Equinox (you may set an alternate default entry page using myEquinox). Basic Search allows you to find data files within Equinox by searching holdings at the file and variable level using keywords or search syntax entered into the text box provided. Examples of search terms include: census, general social survey. By default, a search string searches for the expression that is entered in the search box. Refer to Search Tips for guidance. Search syntax must be entered into the text box. Click on the Search button to launch a query. A more powerful search mechanism may be accessed by using Advanced Search.
Advanced Search permits robust searching of the Equinox holdings at the file or variable levels. The default state has file level records selected for searching, however, the radio button for variable can be selected. Additional fields can be combined with search criteria in order to obtain more refined search results at either the file or variable level. The initial input box must have query text typed into it in order for a search to be executed. Searches can be further limited by conducting searches at a particular file or variable field level. Searches can be more complex by choosing to use multiple query boxes. File level fields that can be searched include the following:
Variable level fields that can be searched include the following:
Once the search criteria has been specified in Advanced Search, a user can click 'Search' to execute the search. Users can switch to Basic Search from the Advanced Search by clicking on Basic Search.
|*||epidem*||The use of the asterisk allows truncation of search terms: this query will find all records containing, for example, epidemic, epidemiology, epidemiologist, etc.|
|AND||tobacco AND use||The example searches for records containing both tobacco and use|
|OR||tobacco OR use||The example searches for records containing both tobacco or use, or both|
|NOT||tobacco NOT use||The example searches for records containing tobacco but not use|
|""||"education and training"||Exact string (The example searches for the exact string, and ignores the 'and' operator due to the use of quotes|
|>||> 2001||Greater than (The example would search for dates after December 31st 2000, depending on the type of field you are searching (Date, text, numeric)|
|≥||≥ 250||Greater than or equal to (The example searches for numbers greater than or equal to 250)|
|<||< 50||Less than (The example searches for numbers less than 50|
|≤||≤ 300||Less than or equal to (The example searches for numbers less than or equal to 300)|
|w#||General w2 Survey||Within a specified number of words (The example finds general within two words of survey|
|p#||Census p2 Canada||Preceding within a number of words (The example finds Census preceding Canada by two words or fewer|
Browse by Title permits browsing of Equinox holdings from an ordered alphanumeric listing of file titles. The alphanumeric index represents an order of the file holdings arranged by their file name or title, as represented in the title field of the Equinox database. The horizontal index appears across the top of the page, and users can access holdings with filenames beginning with a particular alphanumeric character by clicking on the character from the index. For example, files within Equinox that have a filename which begins with the character C (e.g., Canada Food Stats 2001 will be found by clicking on the character C in the index.
Browsing by title is helpful if you know the name of the file that you wish to use, or if you are unfamiliar with the type of holdings within Equinox and want to browse through titles on a given topic (e.g., household). Users should consider that in the example noted, where files containing data on households are being sought, only files beginning with the term/word household will be found in the ordered list. It can be more beneficial to search the Equinox holding using the Basic Search or Advanced Search screens, when broad searching of holdings is desired.
Browse by Topic permits browsing of all file types within Equinox by topic, or subject. Users can select topics of interest (more than one can be selected), by clicking the checkbox adjacent to listed topic(s). Click the Display button to view the records which are categorized within those topics. Note: The Display operation will be launched when at least one topic is selected.
Browse Recently Added Filesdisplays a list of files that have been added to Equinox within the past sixty days.
Browse Recently Modified FilesThis browse option displays a list of files that have been modified in Equinox within the past sixty days. Modifications include changes to file or variable level metadata (e.g., if a revised edition of a dataset is released, or if metadata is loaded into the system for the first time). In addition to the normal information displayed, the list will show the number of records modified for the file.
Browse Publicly Available Files displays a list of files that are available for use regardless of institutional affiliation.
Results from browsing and searching of Equinox are returned to the user in a report that displays the number of records within the system that satisfy the search or browse criteria specified. The results report displays a listing of records by filename, with several options, depending upon what format the data is in.
Results include the following elements:
If the initial search was across the file and variable level, the report will include file and variable level records that satisfied the search criteria. Selection of files where variable information was returned to the search or browse operation will display the file records of raw data files with the variables preselected which satisfied the search criteria. Variable level results assist users in determining which files contain information related to a particular topic.
Users can learn more about the file or variable results by clicking on the documentation link or variable name and reading the description. Results can be limited or reduced by Data Type within the Display Restrictions section. Data Type categories by which results can be restricted include All, Microdata, Aggregated Data, Geographic Products, and External Web sites.
All results that satisfy a search or browse criteria are initially displayed in a continuous report format, and can be subsequently subset by Data Type.
Equinox provides the choice of extracting a subset of a microdata file, or downloading a microdata file in its entirety, which includes all cases and variables from that file. These options are presented in the form of radio buttons labelled Subset and Entire File.
When the Entire file radio button is selected, you must select the Next button to proceed with your data request. This advances a user to the Submit Entire File Data Request screen. An e-mail address is the required input in order to launch the data request. The options codebook file for the data file and English data file are pre-selected. Optional selections include Statistical Program Files, for the programs SAS, STATA and SPSS, and Data for French Version of SPSS. Selecting the submit button once all choices have been made will launch the data request. A link to an FTP file containing the requested file(s) will be displayed, this can be downloaded immediately, also the link is sent via e-mail to the user.
If the Subset radio button is selected, the user is choosing to limit the data download to a variable subset of the whole file. Users can read the variable information provided in order to choose variables that will be useful to their research. Variables that match search criteria will be automatically preselected, as will the Unique Identifier and the Weight variables.
It is recommended that the Unique Identifier or the Weight variables not be deselected: the Unique Identifier will be needed to match this subset with future subsets from the same file, and the Weight(s) are required to make population estimates.
Variables may be selected from the list presented by clicking the check boxes adjacent to each desired variable. Alternatively the Select All Variables check box can be selected.
Clicking the Next button, will result in proceeding to Select Values. Radio buttons labelled Yes and No are displayed, the default state is Yes. The list of selected variables is displayed with options to specify values in the area below the Yes / No radio buttons. When Yes is selected, the refined selections related to variable values are combined to develop a more specific search string which will return refined results from the database.
This option allows the retrieval of all variables from a file, and to subsequently subset the file by imposing conditions at the value level on retrieved variables. For example, all variables can be retrieved from a file for residents of a geographic area specified in the data file. By contrast, the Retrieve Entire File option does not allow the ability to impose conditions by selecting values.
Select All Variables includes all variables from a given file. In this case, individual variable check-boxes will not be selectable, unless Select All Variables is clicked a second time, in which case the default variable selection will be restored. If individual variables had been selected prior to clicking Select All Variables, those selections will be lost.
When you Select Values, you impose conditions that all records retrieved for the subset must meet. For example, if you select Sex=Male, Province=Ontario, Income ≥ $100,000, you will retrieve only those records from the file that pertain to males from Ontario earning at least $100,000.
Be aware that by imposing conditions, it is possible to inadvertently eliminate all cases from the retrieved subset (e.g., males who have given birth to one or more children).
We recommend that you impose only those restrictions which are absolutely necessary. For example, you might use Equinox to restrict the subset retrieved to males from the provinces of Ontario and Alberta, but use a statistical software package such as SPSS to deal with education restrictions you might wish to impose.
|All||Default condition. All values of the variable will be retrieved.|
|Range of Values||You may use the range selection in one of three fashions:
The Minimum, Maximum, and Missing values are provided to guide you in constructing your range requests. It is important to remember that range selection works on the values recorded in the data file, and not on the meaning of the values. For example, if age is coded in 10 year age groups, entering 70 in the ≥ box would certainly result in no cases being retrieved for your subset.
|By Value Labels||
If values have been specified for a variable, the code, label, frequency, and an indication of whether it is a missing value will be displayed, along with a checkbox to let you select that specific value. You may select as many value labels as you wish for a variable.
All specified values will be retrieved in your subset. Values which are not specified will be excluded from your subset.
For some variables, no values are selected generally, these are either unique record identifiers or interval variables where codes have the same meaning as the label would have (e.g., a code of 100,000 in Income would mean an income of $100,000).
For other interval variables, only missing values may be declared, along with values that have special meaning (e.g., a value of 0 in an age variable coded in single years of age, which has the meaning of "less than one year").
Note: Only one type of value selection may be made per variable. The system will honour whichever radio button is checked for the variable when the Submit Data Request button is clicked.
Microdata extractions are completed by the user once they have filled in the Submit Data Request or Submit Entire Data Request form. There are several fields that must be completed by the user in order for the request to be accepted by Equinox.
Once all selections have been made by a user, the Submit button can be clicked to launch the data retrieval.
Users of Windows XP and later versions do not need to obtain any additional software in order to extract their data from the compressed zip file. Users of earlier versions of Windows may download a copy of a Zip utility for free from a provider such as 7-Zip.
Users of other operating systems must obtain comparable compression software.
Mac users: The standard Zip utility distributed with the Leopard operating system does not handle encrypted zip files. You must download and install software that has this capability. Examples of such software include The Unarchiver and Stuffit Expander.
MyEquinox is an area within Equinox where a user can specify their preferences for the Equinox interface, including the default entry page of choice, default language preference (English or French), and also serves as a user profile management utility.
Your Personal Identification Number (PIN) is an important element in the use of Equinox. It is automatically assigned to your e-mail address the first time you do a Raw Data file retrieval. You can retrieve a forgotten PIN, change an existing PIN, or create a new PIN prior to a Raw Data file retrieval. The PIN is used as follows:
Security - The PIN is used as your password for the data which is zipped and made available on the FTP site. The PIN thus provides an additional security layer to IP protection for ensuring that unauthorized users will not be able to use data to which they are not entitled. As part of the security implementation, the PIN is not displayed on-screen when the page is refreshed to permit data download, but rather is sent only to the e-mail address specified.
Administration - The use of the e-mail address to distribute the PIN to the user ensures that users will enter valid e-mail addresses (since otherwise they will be unable to extract the data needed). Among other things, this ensures that if errors are found in files, it will be possible to contact the users of the data file to advise them of the problems.
End User - The PIN also provides, a mechanism for re-submitting data requests which have been deleted from the Equinox FTP site or for which a different Statistical Program File is required. For example, users can resubmit a job where they originally requested the Data file, Code Book, and SAS Code File, but now wish to have the SPSS Code File, without having to rebuild the query. This is done using Retrieval History on the MyEquinox page.
In order to manage your PIN, please use the PIN management utility found on the MyEquinox page.
Warning: Changing your PIN will not change the PIN used for data requests made before you changed the PIN. It is therefore important to retain the e-mail message which pertains to files requested prior to changing the PIN until those files have been decompressed.
The Equinox administration recommends that you NOT change your Equinox PIN to match a PIN used for banking or other sensitive activities. If, by coincidence, the Equinox PIN assigned you matches such a number, we recommend that you change the Equinox PIN.
Some aggregated data files (i.e., statistics) from Statistics Canada are released in a format that utilizes a browser software called Beyond 20/20. IP-authenticated Equinox users can download Beyond 2020 Viewer Software for Windows and install it on a Windows-based computer: Macintosh or Unix versions of the software are not available.
B20/20 is distributed to authorized users from Statistics Canada through the Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) program. Documentation describing how to use the viewer software is available here:
Quick Start Guide
Access to specific files within Equinox is based on the subscribing institution's membership to external data granting agencies (e.g., Data Liberation Initiative, Depository Services Program, etc.). To see the data file groups that you currently have access to, you can view your user status. If you have received a Data Access Denied message, please consult the Equinox Technical Support page.