Jennifer Slawinski Blessing
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WITH SPSS:
o Variable names
o Variable names are limited to 8 characters and can’t handle “oddball” characters. You can very easily put longer labels on the variables that will be used on the printout when you run an analysis. But you need to make sure that the 8 characters are meaningful enough toeyeball. (This is important if you import data from Excel and have a header row of variable names – it will truncate or delete variable names that are too long.)
o File names
o Data files are given an “.sav” extension. Output files are given an “.spo” extension. If you click on an output file to launch SPSS – it will open an empty data file along with it. Whenever SPSS islaunched – it has a data file open (new/blank or a created one).
o Files are easily cross compatible with Windows and Mac.
o One of the features that is really handy is that it can open your Excel files into a data sheet. You do need to tell SPSS you’re looking for a data file with an “.xls” extension – and then it’s easy for the computer to “find” it.
o Open files
oYou can only have one data file open at a time. However, you can have multiple output files open at the same time. You need to pay attention to which output file is “active” – as that is the one it will dump new analyses to. You can easily switch this by clicking in the file you want to use – but you need to make sure you know where things are going. I often have different output files open, asI like to put the descriptive info in one file and then organize analyses by type. I find that keeps the output files smaller and easier to handle.
o Output files
o One feature I really like is that you can export your output file to an html file. I’ve found this to be really handy in classes like research methods. It made it easier to get output files to everyone via the classwebpage– and it’s already formatted very nicely. And people can read the files on a computer that doesn’t have SPSS on it.
o You can just print a portion of your analyses from the output file. Just highlight the specific portion of the file that you want to print. Sometimes printing landscape is easier than profile – given that lots of the printouts tend to be rather wide.o One last thing to note – you have some amount of flexibility with your output. There are titles and other textboxes that you can edit yourself. Again – I’ve found it’s helpful in the classroom (as well as for personal use). You can change the title to be “t-test for gender on SAT scores” – something that then makes it easier to wade through pages of output and quickly find what you need.Sometimes I even put n.s. or sig in the title – just so I have less to search for in the future.
o As with any software – this is the go to place for opening and saving files. You can open any data or output file from here. To get an Excel sheet open – just go to “open” and make sure to select the correct extension (.xls) for the computer to search for.o Also – under “save as” you can save your data file as an Excel file.
o Some useful commands here:
• “Sort cases” – I often have to do this to find discrepant data points within a variable. You can sort on more than one variable (like Excel). To unsort – you need to have a variable of case numbers to sort along.
•“Select Cases” – The default is that SPSS selects all the cases to use. But you can set up a conditional for it to choose, or select random cases, or based on a range or some key variable. You then have the option to delete the “unselected” cases or have them just filtered. I often will just filter them – and then you can go back and reset it back to all cases.