STATISTICAL ANALYSIS SOFTWARE PACKAGES
When you might get directly involved in computer-based data analysis, my guess is that you’ll be a little amazed at the capabilities of most statistical analysis software packages. I’ve already alluded to the rather extraordinary number of cases and variables that most packages can handle, but that’s just the start of it. The truly amazing element is the speed at which the data are manipulated and calculations are performed. Extremely sophisticated analyses can be carried out in split seconds and with the highest levels of accuracy. Just to take one example, imagine that you wanted to calculate a simple average (the mean, as it’s referred to in statistical parlance), but you wanted to calculate that average for 127 different variables with a sample involving 38,294 cases. All you have to do is type in a couple of commands, tell the system to go to work, and your results will appear in the blink of an eye. All of that should be very good news for anyone who’s venturing into the world of statistical analysis for the first time. If that’s where you are—if you’re just beginning your first systematic study of statistical analysis—you might do well to always remember that the sophisticated software is, for the most part, readily available. In doing so, you can take comfort in the fact that you could most likely rely upon some very user-friendly software to do part of the job for you. Consequently, your mind should be freed up a bit for more important matters—important matters such as selecting the appropriate statistical procedures and interpreting the results. Just to set your mind at ease, let me repeat: You can take comfort in the fact that serious statistical analysis is typically done with the assistance of a computer. The days of pencils, paper, and tedious calculations are over. On the other hand, you’re never free of the responsibility of knowing how to select and interpret the appropriate statistical procedure. All...
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