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a series of ESDS Guides An ESDS guide
Exploring data online using the ESDS Nesstar Catalogue
ESDS Nesstar Catalogue image  

Using Nesstar, users can search for, locate, browse, analyse, visualise and download a variety of survey data. No specialised software is required - just a web browser.

The Nesstar catalogue contains many large-scale datasets, for example, the Labour Force Survey, and academic surveys such as the British Social Attitudes Survey and the National Child Development Study. It also contains a number of datasets specifically created for teaching purposes.

Finding Nesstar datasets

Nesstar datasets can be found in the following ways:

  • by directly accessing the ESDS Nesstar catalogue at
  • by searching for datasets via the main Data Catalogue or Major Studies pages and looking for the Explore Online ESDS Nesstar icon image icon
Using Nesstar - the basics
  1. Open the ESDS Nesstar Catalogue at
  2. Two folders will then be displayed in the left frame:
    • Research Datasets: containing key survey datasets, and
    • Teaching Datasets: containing samplers/subsets of data particularly suitable for teaching and learning purposes.
  3. Click on the words About the ESDS Nesstar Catalogue to view some useful information about using the ESDS Nesstar catalogue.
    Note: This will be displayed in the right frame.
  4. Click on the expand icon image next to a folder name to expand that folder and view its contents.
    Note: The two main folders contain sub-folders for each survey series, e.g. the Health Survey for England, and within each series folder, the survey datasets are listed.
  5. Expand the Teaching Datasets folder.
  6. Expand the Crime Survey for England and Wales (formally British Crime Survey) folder within it.
  7. Expand the British Crime Survey, 2000: X4L SDiT Teaching Dataset by clicking on the dataset icon ESDS Nesstar Catalogue survey icon image. An abstract will be displayed in the right frame, and the following two folders will then be available:
    • Metadata: containing background information about the survey
    • Variable Description: containing all the variables in the survey, arranged in variable groups by topics related to the survey.
ESDS Nesstar variable image
  1. Expand the Variable Description folder. The variable groups for this dataset will then be displayed.
  2. Expand the Fear of Crime group. A list of variables within this group will then be shown.
  3. Click on the variable How worried about being mugged, robbed. Information about that variable will be displayed in the right frame, e.g. the question text, frequency counts, interviewer instructions etc.
  4. Select other variables to view.

Note: Browsing metadata and variable information does not require users to log in. Cross-tabulations using data from the British Crime Survey, 2000: X4L SDiT Teaching Dataset also does not require users to log in. However, cross-tabulations and downloading data, using all other datasets, requires users to be registered with the ESDS.

Creating a cross-tabulation
After opening a dataset, the Tabulation option will become available on the top menu.

To create a cross-tabulation using the variables in the British Crime Survey, 2000: X4L SDiT Teaching Dataset:

  1. Expand the Fear of Crime folder.
  2. Click on Tabulation from the top menu.
  3. Click on Worried about being mugged, robbed. This will now be underlined, and various options will be displayed, e.g. Add to row, Add to column, etc.
  4. Click Add to row.
    Note: if you are using a dataset other than the one mentioned above, you will be prompted to log in at this point.
  5. Expand the Demographics folder by clicking expand icon image
  6. Click on the variable Sex.
ESDS Nesstar tabulation image
  1. Click on Add to column. You will now have a two dimensional cross-tabulation.
    Note: in the resulting table, women are over twice as likely to be 'Very worried' about being robbed or mugged as men. Over half of the women interviewed were worried compared to only a third of men.
  2. Click on the variable Age Group. This is also in the Demographics group.
  3. Click Add to column. You will now have a three dimensional cross-tabulation.
    Note: older men are more worried than younger men (38 per cent of men over 60 are worried compared to 30 per cent between the ages of 16-29).
  4. Click the Graph icon, ESDS Nesstar Catalogue graph icon image, available from the toolbar.
  5. Select the graph option, ESDS Nesstar Catalogue graphing icon image, to produce a graph of this table.
  6. Click the Table icon, ESDS Nesstar Catalogue table icon image, to return to the table view.
Weighting the data

In general, frequencies and tables should be weighted. Users should consult the associated documentation for further information on how to correctly weight the data. To apply a weight:

  1. When a cross-tabulation has been created, select the weight icon, ESDS Nesstar Catalogue weight icon image, from the toolbar.
  2. Select a weight from the Weighting variables defined in the dataset box.
  3. Click the > arrow to move the selected weight to the Weighing variables selected box.
  4. Click OK. The table will then be redisplayed showing weighted statistics. A Weight is on message will also be displayed, under the table.
Toolbar guide
ESDS Nesstar Catalogue graph icon image Graphing options, e.g. bar or pie charts. ESDS Nesstar Catalogue download icon image Download option, including by case and/or variables, in various formats.
ESDS Nesstar Catalogue excel icon image Export cross-tabulations into an Excel spreadsheet. ESDS Nesstar Catalogue print icon image Print contents of right frame, e.g. metadata, tables, charts.
ESDS Nesstar Catalogue PDF icon image Export cross-tabulations and charts to a PDF file. ESDS Nesstar Catalogue link icon image Use to create a bookmark/link to a dataset, variable, analysis or chart.
ESDS Nesstar Catalogue subset icon image To create a subset, click this icon, select a variable in the left frame, select 'Add to subset' and follow the on-screen instructions. ESDS Nesstar Catalogue map icon image Some datasets include mapping variables. If a mapping variable is added to a cross-tabulation, information will be displayed on a map.
ESDS Nesstar Catalogue compute icon image Use to compute and recode new variables. ESDS Nesstar Catalogue help icon image Context-sensitive help.
Other Nesstar resources
A2 Using the ESDS Nesstar Catalogue

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Video on how to register with ESDS

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