WRDS Web Queries

Step-by-step instructions for accessing WRDs data using our web-based queries.

Using Web-Based Queries

Access WRDS data through our easy-to-use web-based interface. All that's required is a compatible web browser and Internet access: no software to install, no specific programming language to learn. Web-based queries on WRDS provide powerful search features to help you find the data you're looking for, and allow you to download that data in a variety of convenient file formats.

To run web queries, make sure you have the following:

  • A modern web browser such as Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Internet Explorer (IE10 or greater).
  • Javascript, cookies, and pop-up windows enabled.

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How to Run A Web Query

The web query has the same general format for all databases in WRDS. In almost all cases, you need to complete four steps before submitting your request. In a few cases, there is a preliminary selection step and in other databases, not all steps are needed. For the largest databases, choosing the entire database is not an option because web-based downloads are limited to 2GB in size.

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1. Select Date Range

In this section, users are asked provide a date range to search within the database. This will vary according to the data coverage available within that particular dataset.

Date Range

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2. Select Database Search Method

Next, select the method of how you would like to search the database:

  • Manually entering identifiers
  • Upload a text file containing a list of identifiers
  • The entire database

Identifier types are the various codes by which a company is listed in a database. There are many different kinds of identifiers, and they are each managed and distributed by different organizations.

Additionally, you can build conditional statements using the list of variables, comparison operators, desired values, and logical operators. Most data items are represented in units of millions.

Company Codes

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3. Select Variables

The purpose of the variable selector is to make it easier to manage and navigate through the many variables offered in a web query. This section is expanded by default; you can use the "hide" tab to collapse the variables if needed.

To add items, select the checkbox next to the variable you'd like to use. When selected, the items will appear underneath the "Selected Items" column on the right. There is also a "Check All" option to select all the variables in the list.

To remove items, de-select the checkbox next to the variable name. It will be removed from the "Selected Items" column. If you want to remove all the variable, use the "Uncheck All" option.

Choose Variables

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4. Select Output Format

In this section, you may select the output format of your web query. If you are using statistical software such as PC-SAS, STATA, Matlab, R, or SPSS, you may need to refer to the application's User Guide on which output format to select.

Compression Type

For large data requests, selecting a compression type makes the output file smaller and helps to expedite downloads. ZIP and GZIP are two popular compression formats offered for WRDS data output.

Email Notification

By entering your email address, you will receive an email that contains a URL to the output file when the data request is finished processing.

Using the Custom Field

The Custom Field input can be used to enter any label, code or notes of your own relating to this query. You can enter a project code, using this to track which queries were run as part of a specific research project. You could also use this area to enter a code designating your division, a budget code for invoicing purposes, or any other text (up to 255 characters in length).

The contents of this field can then be used to sort queries listed in a report, or even to group them, assuming the exact same text is entered for all queries that are to be grouped together.

Output format

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"ERROR: User Exceed Simultaneous Request"

This message is returned when a user attempts to run more than one web query at once. WRDS does not allow individual users to run simultaneous web queries; one must submit data requests one at a time. This error message will remain until the process is completed.

Terminating Queries

When you submit a web query, you are presented with a Data Request Summary page that shows the various query parameters you provided, and serves as a placeholder page while your query runs. When the query completes, the Data Request Summary page will refresh to show you your results in a download link. If you decide you want to terminate your running query before it completes, you can use the [ Cancel This Query ] link at the top of the page, shown here:

Data Request Summary Page

If you closed the Data Request Summary page but want to cancel your query, you can find a link back to that page on the Running Queries Page.

Your running queries will also appear under "Your Recent Web Queries" on your WRDS Account Page. The currently-running query will be at the top of that list.

Query Output is Too Large

When a web query's output exceeds 2 GB, users will receive an error message. It is recommended that users correct the query parameters, breaking it up into smaller pieces by adjusting the date range, selected companies or identifiers, and limit the number of variables selected.

Another popular method of reducing your result size is by compressing your output. WRDS supports zip and gzip compression. Simply select one of these options under Compression Type under Step 4 in your query. If your computer runs OSX, you can natively unzip these compression types. If your computer runs Windows, you may need to download 7-Zip to do unzip these files.

Of course, not every research task can be solved with our simplified web queries. If you find that your results are still too large, or take too long, you may likely wish to use a more advanced method of performing your research against WRDS data. WRDS supports many different programing languages, both remotely from your own computer, and on our high-performance computing cluster: the WRDS Cloud. Please take a look at some of these options below:

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