Quick Guide to Spss

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California State University, SacramentoSerge Lee, Ph.D.
Division of Social WorkMariposa Hall, 4025
leesc@csus.edu

A Quick Guide to SPSS Windows[1]

Introduction

SPSS for Windows provides a powerful statistical analysis and data management system in a graphical environment, using descriptive menus and simple dialog boxes to do most of the work for you. Most tasks can be accomplished simply by pointing and clicking the mouse. In addition to the simple point-and-click interface for statistical analysis, SPSS for Windows provides: Data Editor. A versatile spreadsheet-like system for defining, entering, editing, and displaying data. Viewer. The Viewer makes it easy to browse your results, selectively show and hide output, change the display order results, and move presentation-quality tables and charts between SPSS and other applications. Multidimensional pivot tables. Your results come alive with multidimensional pivot tables. Explore your tables by rearranging rows, columns, and layers. Uncover important findings that can get lost in standard reports. Compare groups easily by splitting your table so that only one group is displayed at a time. High-resolution graphics. High-resolution, full-color pie charts, bar charts, histograms, scatterplots, 3-D graphics, and more are included as standard features in SPSS. Database access. Retrieve information from databases by using the Database Wizard instead of complicated SQL queries. Data transformations. Transformation features help get your data ready for analysis. You can easily subset data, combine categories, add, aggregate, merge, split, and transpose files, and more.

Based on the introductions above, SPSS Windows is a common statistical package for the computer that is used for data analysis in the social sciences. It has a data input window that looks like a spreadsheet. It handles many common statistical and graphic procedures publication-ready output. We will just scratch the surface of the possibilities with the program. In order to effectively use the program, knowledge of basic statistics is necessary so you will know what analyses you want to run (and can find them in the program) and you will be able to interpret the output. The windows (click and run” format makes it tempting to run any and all analyses without really thinking through the research/analysis question and considering the nature of the variables (e.g., level of measurement) in relation to the assumptions of the statistics you are using. The computer will try to run anything you ask for whether it is reasonable to do so or not. SPSS Windows consists mainly two types of files. First of all, Data or System File. Only one data file can be open at a time. The current data file is automatically closed when a new data file is opened. If you want to have multiple data files open at the same time, you can start multiple sessions. Generally, any file that produced from your Data File is referred to as an Output File. To produce an output file, you must create a data file first. Note that as you work, various windows and sub-windows are activated and you can moved between them (Data, Editor, Output, or Syntax/Log) by clicking on the related bar at the bottom of the screen, top of the screen, or by simply clicking your left or right mouse. You can also use the WINDOW menu and select the window you want to view or click on the relevant icon in the icon bar.

There are two powerful status bars on the bottom left of your screen. The Data Editor provides two views of your data: (1) Data View, and (2) Variable View.

Data View

Many of the features of the Data view are similar to those found in spreadsheet applications. Some of the common ones are: • Rows are cases. Each row represents a case or an observation. • Columns are variables. Each column represents a variable or characteristic being measured. • Cells contain values. Each...
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