IRecommend by Category


All resource comments (PDF)
How to Use SPSS: A Step-by-Step Guide to Analysis and Interpretation (Brian C. Cronk, 7th edition, 2012), teaches the reader how to use SPSS and provides a great review of statistics. It is easy to read and offers good examples. It is a helpful reference for anyone engaged in data analysis, including those who have never used SPSS before. Approximately $40. (Recommended by Lindsey McCarty, Cedarville University)

The Handbook of Institutional Research(Richard D. Howard, Gerald W. McLaughlin, William E. Knight & Associates, 2012) provides the big picture of how IR started, what it was then, and what it is today. It helps with every aspect of the job, from understanding the role of the IR office within the college/university to putting appropriate BI tools in place. Hardcover $100; eBook $84.99. Discount for AIR members. (Recommended by Anonymous) 

The Primer for Institutional Research (edited by William E. Knight, 2003), is particularly useful for emerging professionals and graduate students. It describes the major tasks of IR and how IR supports institutional management. $21 for members; $31 for non-members. Electronic copy available for AIR members. (Recommended by Anonymous)

Online Databases 

Weave Engaged is useful for institutional effectiveness personnel, assessment professionals, and academic leaders involved in strategic planning and continuous improvement work. Cost is $11,000-$14,000 per year and includes full support, ongoing development, webinars, and learning communities. (Recommended by Toni Blum, Stetson University)

Online Tutorials 

w3schools provides great tutorials for coding software tools and their applications. Topics include HTM/CSSL, Java Script, SQL, PHP, JQuery, and more. No cost. (Recommended by Dianne Bozeman, Alabama A&M University)


Crimson Editor is a text editor with a vertical editing function that can be used to change or insert a column of text, as in Excel. It is also helpful in preparing text-formatted data sets. Those who program, code, prepare and edit data, and transform non-delimited text data to Excel will find this editor very helpful. No cost. (Recommended by Sinji Yang, Eastern Michigan University)

Microsoft Access makes communication to distribution groups work effectively. Also, Access queries produce effective outputs. Cost varies by package. (Recommended by Anonymous)

Microsoft Excel is useful for professionals at all levels and is valuable for data collection, analysis, and reporting. Cost varies by package. (Recommended by Anonymous)  

Qualtrics allows users to share surveys, develop surveys, and look at the data produced. It also provides a useful way of summarizing for novice researchers so the data are easy to understand and incorporate in presentations and reports. One of the most useful features is the ability to email a panel survey so users can send reminders to only those individuals who have not yet responded, as well as thank you emails to those who have. (Recommended by Joseph Curtin, Katie Schoonveld, and Marisa Yates)

QlikView is a QlikTech product that delivers true self-service BI and empowers business users by driving innovative decision-making. This app is used to analyze data from a data warehouse or from multiple sources. Training, support, and consulting services are available. No cost for Personal Edition (individual user only); cost for business platforms ranges by service level. (Recommended by Anonymous)

R—The R Project for Statistical Computing is open source (free) statistical programming software that does everything other statistical software packages do. It takes some time to learn how to get the results you want, but there are lots of resources to help you. This is a valuable tool for anyone interested in serious statistical research who has had exposure to statistical methods. No cost. (Recommended by Terry McCamish, Technical College System of Georgia)

SAS, SPSS, and Stata are all useful for professionals at all levels, including data/management analysts, assistant/associate directors, and directors. Yearly licenses are available for SAS and SPSS. Versions of Stata are available for purchase. (Recommended by Laura Mills, Armstrong Atlantic State University; Gary Pike, Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis; Melissa Baker, Carnegie Mellon University; and Logan Cross, Jacksonville University)

Tableau is useful for all IR professionals and anyone engaged in data analysis. Cost varies by product. It is a must-have tool for any IR office. (Recommended by Christina Butler, Tufts University; Omer Minhas, Ohio Northern University; Cathan Coghlan, Texas Christian University, and Anonymous)TracDat software “helps institutions align planning initiatives, review and reflect on academic and non-academic outcomes, and take action to improve performance.” It is a useful tool for assessment, accreditation, strategic planning, and program review. Contact Nuventive for information about cost. (Recommended by Brandis Senecal, Great Basin College)

Source Code Editors 

Notepad++ is a user-friendly source code editing program. It provides instant code feedback via syntax highlighting when saved as a specific type of code (i.e., SQL), and is a helpful resource for programmers, analysts, and those who are new to writing code. No cost. (Recommended by Eric Atchison, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning) 


Academic Insights is a user-friendly analytics dashboard hosted by U.S. News & World Report and provides schools with instant access to a rich historical archive of undergraduate and graduate school rankings data. Users can compare peer institutions and create reports with a variety of features, including advanced visualizations and social media dashboards. Cost is $5,000-$10,000. (Recommended by Barney Lentz, Drexel University)

AEA365 posts a tip a day for evaluators and is dedicated to highlighting Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources, and Lessons Learned. Sponsored by the American Evaluation Association. No cost. (Recommended by Sherry Downing, Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science)

BLS Data is a U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics site contains databases, tables, and calculators by subject. The subjects include inflation and prices, employment/unemployment and employment projections, pay and benefits, productivity, historical news, and maps. (Recommended by JJ Juszkiewicz, American Association of Community Colleges)

College InSight allows users to browse and compare information about affordability, diversity, and student success by spotlight (college, state, or type of school); topics of interest; or all data (any combination of colleges, variables, or years). (Recommended by Anonymous).

College Measures is focused on using data to drive improvement in higher education outcomes. Valuable for all higher education stakeholders, including students, administrators, legislators, and employers. A partnership of American Institutes for Research and Matrix Knowledge. No cost. (Recommended by Lisa Haynes, Texas Woman’s University)

College Results Online is a tool hosted by The Education Trust that provides “information about college graduation rates for nearly any four-year college or university in the country.” It is a particularly useful source for data on enrollment and graduation rates by ethnicity. No cost. (Recommended by Mike Tamada, Reed College)

CUPA-HR provides leadership on higher education workplace issues in the U.S. and abroad.” Helpful resources include salary surveys for higher education administrators, faculty, non-exempt staff, and more. Reports are obtained through CUPA-HR membership and additional purchasing options. (Recommended by Sally Mikel, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign )

Doodle is an easy tool to use for setting up meetings. It can be very difficult to get everyone's calandars synched up in order to have meetings and this tool does it. Outlook calendaring works wonderfully when everyone in the organization is on it, which is seldom the case. Hence the need for a web-based calendaring tool. It is free - there is no cost for the basic version. (Recommended by Anonymous)

Economic Development and Employer Planning System (EDEPS) is an analytical tool for business, education, workforce, and economic planners. EDEPS facilitates the analysis of economic health, industry performance, population trends, labor supply and demand, training resources, income characteristics, and market potential. (Recommended by Anonymous)

FlowingData features idea generation for displaying complex data in a visually appealing manner. This is a useful resource for any individual interested in visual displays of data. No cost. (Recommended by Tim Merrill, Randolph-Macon College)

IPEDS Data Centeris useful for researchers comparing institutions and studying institutional effectiveness. No cost. (Recommended by Anonymous)  

NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resourcesis useful for higher education faculty and staff. A wealth of information is housed, including member-written articles covering over 250 topics and resource links organized by topic. No cost. (Recommended by Anonymous)

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) users can get peer data, look up institutions, and search for research articles and publications. No cost. (Recommended by Qing Mack, Asnuntuck Community College)

NCHEMS Information Center (for Higher Education Policymaking and Analysis - NCHEMS) provides state policymakers and analysts timely and accurate data and information that are useful in making sound higher-education policy decisions. By navigating the site, users can find comparative data for states and counties and useful contextual information. (Recommended by Anonymous)

O*NET OnLine contains information on more than 900 occupations and allows users to connect educational classification systems, such as the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP), to the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. This is a useful resource for a variety of higher education professionals, including those who perform compliance functions related to Gainful Employment. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. No cost. (Recommended by Cort Iverson, Kirkwood Community College)

PowerStats is a useful tool to benchmark student demographics and aid/debt status by attendance patterns. Hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) DATALAB, PowerStats allows users to create, save and share tables and regressions, using 18 NCES postsecondary survey datasets and 1 pre-elementary education dataset. No cost. (Recommended by Anonymous)

Research Methods Knowledge Base is useful for IR analysts, research assistants, assessment staff, and IR and assessment managers and directors. This website offers helpful guidance on structuring assessment studies (e.g., whether using direct or indirect methods). No cost. (Recommended by Marlene Clapp, University of Masachusetts Dartmouth)

SESTAT (Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System) is a useful tool in benchmarking career outcomes. Hosted by the National Science Foundation (NSF), SESTAT provides “longitudinal information on the education and employment of the college-educated U.S. science and engineering workforce.” Data are collected from the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG), the National Survey of Recent College Graduates (NSRCG), and the Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR). No cost. (Recommended by Anonymous)  

Trello is a free project management platform allows users to create cards that represent tasks. Within the cards, you can build checklists, add due dates, assign responsibility to users you add, and then assign tasks. Users can filter on the cards that are their responsibility, and even use color coding. I use it to plan long-range and short-range projects (you can have as many boards as you want). Boards can be shared with others, so they can stay up-to-date with the progress on your projects. (Recommended by Erica Eckert, Kent State University) 
Comments: The Trello website is very interesting. It looks like it can link up with a google account -- but I'm still exploring. Thanks for sharing! (Kristina - 5/15/2014)

The United States Census Bureau Quick Facts offers fast, easy access to facts about people, business, and geography, including the latest census population data by state, county, and city. (Recommended by Lee Sanders, Southern Arkansas University Tech)

The United States Education Dashboard monitors the country’s progress toward President Obama’s goal that by 2020 the U.S. will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. Data, charts, and detailed information are presented for what the U.S. Department of Education considers to be important indicators of how the nation, and each state, is progressing on the outcomes necessary to achieve this national goal. (Recommended by Anonymous)