Data Access API

The Data Access API provides programmatic download access to the files stored under Dataverse. More advanced features of the Access API include format-specific transformations (thumbnail generation/resizing for images; converting tabular data into alternative file formats) and access to the data-level metadata that describes the contents of the tabular files.

Basic File Access

Basic access URI:



Files can be accessed using persistent identifiers. This is done by passing the constant :persistentId where the numeric id of the file is expected, and then passing the actual persistent id as a query parameter with the name persistentId.

Example: Getting the file whose DOI is 10.5072/FK2/J8SJZB

GET http://$SERVER/api/access/datafile/:persistentId/?persistentId=doi:10.5072/FK2/J8SJZB



the following parameter values are supported (for tabular data files only):

Value Description
original “Saved Original”, the proprietary (SPSS, Stata, R, etc.) file from which the tabular data was ingested;
RData Tabular data as an R Data frame (generated; unless the “original” file was in R);
prep “Pre-processed data”, in JSON.
subset Column-wise subsetting. You must also supply a comma separated list of variables in the “variables” query parameter. In this example, 123 and 127 are the database ids of data variables that belong to the data file with the id 6: curl 'http://localhost:8080/api/access/datafile/6?format=subset&variables=123,127'.


the following parameter values are supported (for image and pdf files only):

Value Description
true Generates a thumbnail image, by rescaling to the default thumbnail size (64 pixels)
N Rescales the image to N pixels.

Multiple File (“bundle”) download


Returns the files listed, zipped.

“All Formats” bundled access for Tabular Files.


This is convenience packaging method is available for tabular data files. It returns a zipped bundle that contains the data in the following formats:

  • Tab-delimited;
  • “Saved Original”, the proprietary (SPSS, Stata, R, etc.) file from which the tabular data was ingested;
  • Generated R Data frame (unless the “original” above was in R);
  • Data (Variable) metadata record, in DDI XML;
  • File citation, in Endnote and RIS formats.

Data Variable Metadata Access

These methods are only available for tabular data files. (i.e., data files with associated data table and variable objects).


In its basic form the verb above returns a DDI fragment that describes the file and the data variables in it.

The DDI returned will only have two top-level sections:

  • a single fileDscr, with the basic file information plus the numbers of variables and observations and the UNF of the file.
  • a single dataDscr section, with one var section for each variable.



<codeBook version="2.0">
   <fileDscr ID="f6">
      <notes level="file" type="VDC:UNF" subject="Universal Numeric Fingerprint">UNF:6:zChnyI3fjwNP+6qW0VryVQ==</notes>
      <var ID="v1" name="id" intrvl="discrete">
         <location fileid="f6"/>
         <labl level="variable">Personen-ID</labl>
         <sumStat type="mean">2.0</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="mode">.</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="medn">2.0</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="stdev">1.0</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="min">1.0</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="vald">3.0</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="invd">0.0</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="max">3.0</sumStat>
         <varFormat type="numeric"/>
         <notes subject="Universal Numeric Fingerprint" level="variable" type="VDC:UNF">UNF:6:AvELPR5QTaBbnq6S22Msow==</notes>
      <var ID="v3" name="sex" intrvl="discrete">
         <location fileid="f6"/>
         <labl level="variable">Geschlecht</labl>
         <sumStat type="mean">1.3333333333333333</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="max">2.0</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="vald">3.0</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="mode">.</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="stdev">0.5773502691896257</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="invd">0.0</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="medn">1.0</sumStat>
         <sumStat type="min">1.0</sumStat>
            <labl level="category">Mann</labl>
            <labl level="category">Frau</labl>
         <varFormat type="numeric"/>
         <notes subject="Universal Numeric Fingerprint" level="variable" type="VDC:UNF">UNF:6:XqQaMwOA63taX1YyBzTZYQ==</notes>

More information on DDI is available in the Tabular Data, Representation, Storage and Ingest section of the User Guide.

Advanced options/Parameters:

It is possible to request only specific subsets of, rather than the full file-level DDI record. This can be a useful optimization, in cases such as when an application needs to look up a single variable; especially with data files with large numbers of variables. See variables=123,127 in the example above.

Preprocessed Data


This method provides the “preprocessed data” - a summary record that describes the values of the data vectors in the tabular file, in JSON. These metadata values are used by TwoRavens, the companion data exploration utility of the Dataverse application. Please note that this format might change in the future.

Authentication and Authorization

Data Access API supports both session- and API key-based authentication.

If a session is available, and it is already associated with an authenticated user, it will be used for access authorization. If not, or if the user in question is not authorized to access the requested object, an attempt will be made to authorize based on an API key, if supplied. All of the API verbs above support the key parameter key=... as well as the newer X-Dataverse-key header. For more details, see “Authentication” in the Introduction section.