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Ten things to know about SPSS

1. What does SPSS mean?
Previously, SPSS meant "Statistical Package for Social Sciences". However, the company kept on developing different products under SPSS to be extensively used in diverse areas, the revised full form is "Statistical Product and Service Solutions". After the acquisition of SPSS by IBM, it is now termed as IBM-SPSS.

2. What does SPSS do?
SPSS has a number of products and services. The most popularly used product is SPSS Statistics. The most common uses of SPSS are:

  • Descriptive statistics: Frequencies Calculation, calculations of measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode etc.), calculation of measures of dispersion (standard deviation)

  • Bivariate statistics: Analysis using two variables in which there is comparison of Means, comparison of proportions etc. (e.g. students T-test, chi-squared test etc.) 
  • Multivariate Analysis: Analysis of more than two variables (e.g. regression analysis)

  • We will discuss in details in the subsequent topics.

    3. How much does IBM-SPSS statistics cost?
    The cost of the software depends on the type of license. The student edition of the software is cheaper with limited time license while the professional license and complete packages are very expensive. The students in most of the universities can use it free of cost since the universities have already purchased the multiple user license made freely available to their students. The updated prices are available in the SPSS website, as well as other online shopping websites.

    4. What are the alternatives to IBM-SPSS?
    In this competitive world, every package has the alternative rivals. The most common alternatives to the SPSS are: SAS, STATA and  R. However, several other alternative software are available too.

    5. How long does it take to learn IBM-SPSS?
    The answer to this question depends on how much we want to learn. Typically, for a person who has never encountered any statistical package in his/her lifetime will take few hours (1-5 hours) to run simple operations such as: create variables, enter the data, do the descriptive analysis, prepare cross-tabulations and prepare charts. It is very easy to operate SPSS using the tutorials that are available widespread in the internet. For complex analysis, it requires deeper understanding of research and statistics.

    6. What is the scope of learning IBM-SPSS?
    People who have knowledge on SPSS can have many benefits. They can serve as data analysts, trainers, researchers, entrepreneurs etc. Many organizations these days are seeking for professionals who can operate the basic statistical functions using SPSS software.

    7. Can SPSS read files created in other software?
    We can either create the data sets in SPSS or import from outside. SPSS supports a number of files that can be imported e.g. the excel files (.xls and .xlsx), text files (.txt), comma separated values (.csv) and many others.

    8. Do I need to learn syntax to run SPSS?
    Fortunately, learning syntax and using the syntax editor feature of SPSS is an optional feature. SPSS has the user friendly drop down menus that can be clicked by mouse to execute different functions.

    9. Which operating system do support SPSS?
    SPSS is available for windows operating system (both 32 bit and 64 bit windows), MAC as well as LINUX.

    10. Does it do qualitative data analysis?
    SPSS is used for quantitative data analysis. Qualitative data can be analyzed if they are categorized into appropriate variables which can be uniformly entered in SPSS to carry out the analysis. For analysis of qualitative data such as quotes or essays or audio transcripts etc, other software are available such as Atlas-Ti, MAX QDA etc.


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