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Computers in Research: An Introduction to SPSS


SPSS is the most widely-used system of computer programs for social analysis. It was conceived by a humble graduate student in political science at Stanford University in the late 1960s. Norman Nie, now Chairmand of the Board at SPSS Inc. and Professor of Political Science at Stanford, has seen his creation spread to thousands of universities and businesses across the world. SAS, another program favored by economists, is SPSS's major rival as a statistical package. SPSS and SAS have so many capabilities that even skilled researchers never learn the systems completely. In this course, you will only learn the basic procedures in SPSS. These will be enough to equip you for elementary data analysis.

Our basic taxt will be the SPSS Base 10.0 Applications Guide (Chicago: SPSS, 1999). This is an adequate reference, but it is not likely to prove good for learning.

The SPSS program itself has a Tutorial that I urge you to go through. Please understand that learning SPSS is a little like learning a new word processing system (or a new language). Learning won't come quickly to most of you, but you will learn it through repetition. I understand that and will try to help you learn as best I can in class.

I'll demonstrate the program's usage in class on Friday. Armed with this visualization, you can try your hand at entering into the SPSS Data Editor the few items of data associated with the 10 states that you selected at random for today's assignment.