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IBM SPSS Statistics – Continued Exploration

Getting Started…Again

Back to Statistics; I restart IBM SPSS and from the startup/open dialog, locate my previously defined data file from the “Open an existing data source” list and click OK. My file opens in the data editor (just as I left it) and the Statistics Viewer shows the very first transaction “GET” (and then lists the name and location of the file I just opened).


One of the great features of IBM SPSS is that it provides the ability for you to create publication and presentation quality output from what is displayed in the SPSS output viewer window. By default, SPSS applies its “basic formatting” style to your output but offers many functions to select, move, reformat and otherwise change output or its appearance. Using the sample file I created in last week, I’ll walk through some basic points.

Long Weekend – left pane right pane

To refresh my memory (it’s been a long weekend), I select “File”, “Display Data File Information” and then “Working File” from the SPSS Viewer’s menu. In the Viewer’ right pane (known as the content pane), I see the specific details of my file:

  • A (default) file name “File Information” (we will change this shortly)
  • A “Variable Information” table that list all the specifics of the variables I defined (last session) for my file
  • A “Variables Values” table that details the “Value Constants” that I had defined for my file (“F” equals “Female” and “M” for “Male”, etc.)

The left pane of the viewer is known as the outline pane. The outline pane provides a “table of contents” for the Viewer output. You can use the outline pane to navigate through the results and control the display format. Most actions in the outline pane have a corresponding effect on the contents pane.

Let’s take a (quick) spin through highlights of the outline pane:

The following should be noticed:

Log –will keep track of everything that is done with the data file (more on this later)

File Information – This is an expandable/collapsible consolidation of all of the file’s attributes, which (by default) include: Title, Notes, Active Dataset, Variable Information and Variable Values.

Clicking on any “attribute” in the outline File Information will “select” that attribute (and its corresponding content) but you can also click on any content in the content pane to select it (and its corresponding attribute in the outline pane). SPSS also allows you to edit selected content either “directly in the viewer window” or “in a separate window” (a menu choice when right-clicking on content in the content pane). Spending just a few moments “clicking through” you can see that SPSS offers you the ability to insert external files, text and images, provides an extended ability to reformat the appearance of almost any content as well as complete export capabilities, so that you can work on any and all of your output in the tool of your choosing (such as PowerPoint, Word, Excel, PDF and text. There literally is no excuse for unorganized or otherwise unprofessional looking output when you use SPSS.

Moving on – the Next Step

Now that I have my data file open, refreshed my memory on the file variables and become (somewhat) aware of how SPSS supports the ability to professionally organize and format our files output, I am anxious to move on to the next step –beginning an actual analysis session by selecting an analysis and summarization method for my data. Experience tells me that seldom does this step go smoothly without some additional “data managing” but thankfully, SPSS helps us with this by providing various “tools”:

  • To proof and edit your data, you can use the Case Summaries option
  • To address missing data in a dataset, you can use Replace Missing Values
  • Additional variables can be computed based upon existing variables in your data using Transform and Compute Variable
  • Certain operations can be performed on selected portions of a dataset with Select Cases
  • You can use Recode to change how selected variables have been setup in a data file
  • You can merge files using Merge Files and
  • Data can be reordered by using Sort Cases

Next Time

Next time I am going to go over each of the SPSS “data management tools” I’ve mentioned here. Please stay tuned…


“I think I’m just going to lie here for a moment and collect my thoughts” – Shane Falco, the replacements

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