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WRDS: How to Search

Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS) is a web-based business data research service from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Three ways to search WRDS

There are three search methods to search into WRDS:

  • Browser-based access: Go to the WRDS website using form-based queries
  • Command Line Access: WRDS Cloud is accessible via SSH.
  • Interactive applications (connecting Remotely): Using stat programmes like PC-SAS, R, Matlab, and Stata on your desktop computer

Note! In this guide main focus will be on the "Browser-based Access".

Searching the WRDS - step by step search in COMPUSTAT

How to Search - Three Ways to use WRDS (in Brief)

1) Web Queries (available to all Account Types)

WRDS offers a common interface and consistent data format across all databases or datasets. Start by selecting a database from the Current Subscription list on the left menu. Then narrow down to a desired dataset.

On the search form, proceed with the following:

  1. Select a data range
  2. Select entities / companies. There are additional options for entering codes:
    • manually enter codes
    • upload a file containing entities / companies codes. This file should contain codes recognized by WRDS and saved in "Formatted Text" format
    • retrieve saved codes from "my WRDS"
    • search across the entire database
  3. Select variables - that is the items you want to include in your output report. Each dataset has its own specific set of variables. Use the Conditional Statements to screen the companies when you search across the entire database.
  4. Select the output format: choose among fixed-width text (*txt), comma-delimited format (*.csv), Excel (*.xls), HTML table (*.htm), SAS Windows and Solaris (*.as7bdat), SPSS file (*.sav) and more
  5. Cick the Submit Query button

2) Connecting Remotely (access to the following Account Types: Faculty and Ph.D)

WRDS data is further accessible remotely from the comfort of your workstation or laptop, through many popular programming applications.
You can connect to WRDS and access WRDS datasets in the following interactive applications:

  • SAS via PC-SAS/Connect
  • Python via Jupyter Notebooks or Spyder
  • R via RStudio
  • Stata

Look here for more information on Programming at WRDS

3) The WRDS Cloud (access to anyone with a WRDS faculty, staff, research assistant (RA), PhD account, or Masters account and is included in your WRDS subscription)

WRDS also provides a high performance computing cluster we call the WRDS Cloud. This system gives you command-line access to a powerful research computing system that provides direct access to all of our data, and includes support for many powerful research programming languages. 

The WRDS Cloud is accessible via SSH, a way of easily and securely connecting to WRDS. Once connected, you'll be able to access WRDS data directly in your favorite programming languages. Languages supported on the WRDS Cloud:

  • SAS
  • Python
  • R
  • Stata (requires active Stata license with StataCorp)

Concerning access to the WRDS Cloud and how to use it, look here for more information

How to Search - in Detail (Web Query)

Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Internet Explorer (IE7 or greater).
When you have a compatible web browser you have access to a wide array of data using the same web-based interface on all datasets / databases.

How to run a web query in four steps:
Web query has the same general format for all databases in WRDS.
You need to complete four steps before submitting your request. For the largest databases, choosing the entire database is not an option because of the size of the databases, which exceed 2GB.


Basic Search Tips in the WRDS

Follow this link to see a WRDS Demo. You don't have to be registered in order to look into this demo.

The WRDS web site offers the documentation and description of all databases available.

Each database is accompanied by a general description, various components of the database, descriptions of variables, access to
manuals and a FAQ section. 

Get data (Data Dashboard): You may also access the datasets using this query form. Here you can find datasets by browsing in the Content list.


Search WRDS: here you can search and download information by entering your own search criteria. You can filter your search results by Site Map, Content Type, Vendor, Programming Language, Concept, and Region

Additional resources are available from any WRDS web page by clicking on the "support" tab located at the top of your screen. You will
find several listings including:

  • WRDS FAQ: This resource contains the most detailed information on using WRDS, including a system overview, data content
    and access, and extensive help on using SAS and FORTAN programs to extract data.
  • SAS FAQ: This is an excellent resource for users just getting started with SAS.
  • Online Manuals: All electronic manuals published by vendor providers (i.e. CRSP) are available under this link.
  • Downloads: TCP script for connecting to WRDS via SAS/CONNECT