MIMAS is a JISC-supported national data centre run by Manchester Computing, at the University of Manchester, to provide on-line access to a wide range of strategic datasets, key bibliographic information, software packages and large-scale computing resources, as well as specialist support and training. The services are free to the end-user.
The first part of this article describes recent changes at MIMAS. The second part addresses the aspects of the service which I think will be of particular interest to Economists in Higher Education.
On 1st July 1999 MIMAS (Manchester InforMation and Associated Services) was launched as the new name for the national datasets centre formerly known as MIDAS. The new name comes at a time when we are establishing a significant set of prestigious bibliographic and electronic journal services to add to the Datasets and Software services for which MIDAS was well known in the UK academic community.
The web address for MIMAS home page is: http://www.mimas.ac.uk/
The computer which users of the macro-economic time series service would access was replaced this summer. The name of the new server for Telnet and X access is: irwell.mimas.ac.uk
The ISI Web of Science Service for Higher Education is a completely new web interface to the ISI Citation Indexes formerly provided by BIDS at the University of Bath. The new service is available to users from subscribing sites from September 1999.
The COPAC project had run for three years by October 1998 when funding was made available to maintain it as a full service at MIMAS, and proceed with further development work. COPAC offers public access to the catalogue entries of some of the largest university research libraries in the UK and Eire.
JSTOR is an electronic archive of key scholarly journals, comprising complete runs from their first issue up to a "moving wall" of one to five years prior to the current date. MIMAS is providing the UK Higher Education community with access to the JSTOR collection via a mirror server at Manchester.
There are now over 100 titles available to members of participating sites (contact CHEST for details) and among these are 11 Economics Journals. If your site does not yet subscribe to this service, you can get a taster by inspecting a small number of journals (including the American Economic Review for years 1910 to 1921). The journals are presented in PDF format so that the look of the original document is preserved.
The simplicity and intelligence of the Casweb web interface opens up the Census statistics to a much wider group of students. It is widely used in teaching now, as is the ONS Databank web interface.
The ONS Databank currently comprises 35 individual datasets, each based on publications such as The Blue Book, The Pink Book, Labour Market Trends etc. At MIMAS these are amalgamated into one searchable database of about 40,000 series. The titles of these series are all searchable via a web interface and any number of them can be browsed and downloaded. The database is updated monthly.
A powerpoint presentation given by Linda Keedy at the ONS Workshop organised by the Data Archive and held at the Royal Statistical Society in September 1999 is available on the Web. It includes a few slides to show how to use the ONS databank web interface.
With the exception of the Commodity Balance Statistics, the following databanks can only be accessed using the SAS statistics package.
The OECD Main Economic Indicators databank contains time series which can be used to examine recent economic development in the OECD member countries. There are over 2500 time series beginning in 1960 or later and the databank is updated monthly. Register with MIMAS to use this databank.
The 3-digit and 4-digit UNIDO Industrial Statistics provides data at the 1998 release and UNIDO Commodity Balance Statistics (6-digit ISIC code) at the 1995 release. There is a simple graphical interface using the X window system to the Commodity Balance Statistics. Register with MIMAS to use the UNIDO databanks.
The International Monetary Fund IFS, DOTS, BOPS and GFS time series are available to users registering with the Data Archive and MIMAS. The IMF data stops at 1991, and we continue to pursue the acquisition of more up-to-date data. The 3 other databanks include data up to 1996. Register with the Data Archive and MIMAS.
The continuous government surveys are important sources of official data. They include the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, Family Expenditure Survey, Family Resources Survey and the General Household Survey, used by ONS for measuring trends in income, expenditure, employment and the preparation of official government statistics, e.g. Retail Price Index. They can be used to explore the circumstances of individuals and households and how they vary between areas of the country and types of household. The annual databases containing anonymised survey responses are also made available for secondary research and teaching via the Data Archive. MIMAS holds supporting information about each of these and other surveys and longitudinal studies such as the British Household Panel Study.
Register with the Data Archive and MIMAS.
Casweb is a web-based interface to the 1991 GB Census area statistics (LBS/SAS) comprising approximately 30,000 counts of persons or households covering a broad range of socio-demographic themes for various geographical units in Great Britain. It is easy to search and extract information, just browsing and exploring the tables is instructive. The Census Knowledge Base offers additional information about the 1991 Census, what has been done with the data, and the run-up to the 2001 Census. Register with MIMAS.
If you want to compare data from various sources, identify and focus on geographical areas to research or to familiarise students with the resources (e.g. Census) that they may have to use when they graduate, you can use these datasets on-line at MIMAS.
The easy web interface allows anyone to search (by title, author or subject) for a book or periodical in the participating university libraries.
There are no restrictions to who can use COPAC.
The range of economics journals available includes: American Economic Review, Econometrica, The Economic Journal, Journal of Applied Econometrics.
Access is restricted to users physically located at participating institutions (using IP address).
The Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) contains references and cited references from nearly 200 of the most important economics and financial journals published world-wide. The SSCI indexes over 1,700 social science journals and is updated weekly with, on average, about 2,800 new references and 50,000 new cited references. The database extends back to 1981.
If your site subscribes, you can access the Web of Science using your ATHENS username and password.
CHEST administers site licenses for ISI Web of Science and JSTOR.
The Data Archive authorises use of IMF and ONS databanks. Application and Undertaking forms can be downloaded from their web site. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
A series of courses are held each semester in London and Manchester. The courses are free of charge. If there is sufficient interest we can give these courses at your institution.
Accessing the ONS Databank:
26 October (Manchester), 4 November (London)
Accessing the International Time Series Databanks:
2 November (Manchester), 4 November (London)
MIMAS for Social Science:
9 November (London), 10 November (Manchester)
COPAC and JSTOR:
14 October (Manchester), 2 November (London)
You can view the course calendar and descriptions of the courses at http://www.mimas.ac.uk/courses.html
Fact cards, MIMAS posters, copies of the new MIMAS newsletter, called Focus on MIMAS, and all queries, problems, and course bookings should be sent to the MIMAS Helpline.
Tel: 0161-275 6109
Fax. 0161-275 6040