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C. The SPSS Package

>C.1 Introduction > C.2 Web links > C.3 Costs and licensing >C.4 What kind of package is it? >C.5 Methods for complex surveys >


SPSS SPSS is a very widely used package, especially in University social science departments and among social scientists in government and in private organisations. It was originally developed by SPSS Inc with headquarters in USA but with a world-wide network of supplying organisations and support teams. SPSS has been taken over by IBM in 2009 and has become IBM SPSS.

New versions come out regularly. The latest version of the software is IBM SPSS Statistics 20. The exemplars in this web resource have been developed for Version 12. This is the first version to have methods for complex surveys available.

Mini-guides are intended as reminders for people with some experience with SPSS.

mini guide 1
mini guide 2
mini guide 3
mini guide 4
mini guide 5
mini guide 6

Novice guides are intended to give non-SPSS users the basic help they need to analyse surveys: novice guide

C.2 Web links

http://www.spss.com/ is the main link to the SPSS web site

http://support.spss.com/ is the part of their web site for technical support. You must sign in to get full access to this part of the site. Named access is only available to registered non academic users. But anyone can access information by logging in as guest with password guest.

http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/spss/ is a site at UCLA with some resources to help you with SPSS as well as links to other sources of help.

C.3 Costs and licensing

You need to have an up-to-date license to run SPSS . Licenses are negotiated annually and can include different parts of the SPSS system. All licenses cover the main statistical procedures in the BASE package. SPSS COMPLEX SAMPLES, for survey analysis, is an add-on module. The pricelist for commercial organisations can be accessed here.

SPSS is available at reduced prices to academic organisations in the UK via CHEST and the current CHEST prices can be accessed here.

C.4 What kind of package is it?

SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) was developed for social scientists. Its emphasis has always been towards ease of use. Its statistical procedures tend to have had less input from professional statisticians than other packages.

Many SPSS users run their analyses via the point-and-click interface only without keeping a record of what has been done. It is much better practice to keep a record via a SYNTAX file. This allows more flexibility in data manipulation.

Plus points:
  • It is easy to learn and to get started
  • Use of the syntax window with PASTE operations is a good way to keep an audit trail
  • It is so commonly used that lots of informal help is available
Minus points:
  • The documentation of the statistical procedures is sketchy and it may be difficult to find out what they are doing (but see below under algorithms).
  • Pointing and clicking is so easy that it may be hard to be organised.
C.5 Methods for complex surveys

The COMPLEX SAMPLES module is a new feature added to SPSS (Version 12 only) in 2004. It is accessed from the analysis menu when it is licensed. A wider range of procedures is available in version 13.

What does it do?
The software currently includes sample selection (CSSELECT), descriptive statistics (CSDESCRIPTIVES), tables (CSTABULATE) and ratio estimates.

Version 13 will include regression modelling, including logistic regression for surveys.

These methods are implemented with standard errors from Taylor linearisation.

Documentation for the survey package:

The manual that comes with the COMPLEX SAMPLES module does little more than take you through how to run the programs.

More help is available by logging in to the SPSS technical support pages (use a GUEST login with the password GUEST if you are not a registered commercial user). The algorithms used in the survey procedures can be accessed in the STATISTICS section of the site. A search for COMPLEX SAMPLES will produce some interesting FAQs.

peas project 2004/2005/2006