An Analysis of the Statistical Software SPSS
The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) is a computer software whose main usage is in data analysis (IBM n.p.). The program created and first launched in 1968 by Norman Hie, a political science post-graduate student at Stanford University(IBM n.p.). The software has grown to become the most popular program as far as statistical analysis is concerned. This is especially so in social science where it has come to be appreciated as the analytical software of choice when it comes to research. Aside from analysis, the software also has other features which make it appropriate for the management of information and data documentation.
The software comes with four fundamental statistical features. These are the descriptive, bivariate, numerical result predictors and group identification predictors. When it comes to the descriptive aspects, the program can be used in cross tabulation, describing ratio-defined evaluations and the approximation of frequencies. The bivariate feature is basically a function that is used in calculating averages, developing t-tests and establishment of correlative elements in a statistical group. The forecast of numeral value outcomes is primarily used in the statistics of linear regression. Group identification predictors are basically used in factor and cluster analyses.
Most of the various functions of the software can be accessed using drop-down menus. However, for those who are more conversant with the program, a special command syntax language that is unique to each user can be programmed into the primary software for comfortable usage. This kind of programming is beneficial when it comes to the usability of the software as it makes it easy to reproduce some commands and making repetitive functions even easier aside from the making complex analyses simpler. One top of these some commands can only be executed using the command system as they are not available in the drop-down menus. Packages in the SPSS can either be user operated or they can run in an automated way depending on user preferences.
User interface display
The interface of the software assumes the structure of a two dimensional table with the rows representing textual values (cases) and the columns being structured for numerical values (measurements). In this regard, only two categories of data can make sense in the program, and these are text/string and numerals. The processing of data within the program assumes a sequential fashion whereby each case is related to a different case until a parallel occurs. The program can either relate one case to a different case or match one case to various different cases. It, however, cannot match many files to various other files at the same time.
The interface is split into a double-view panel and the user has the option of switching from one view to another using a number of tabs placed at the bottom of the window. The two views of the software are either the data view or the variable view. The data view is presented in the form of a spreadsheet with both rows and columns while the variable view is a clear sheet with data arranged in rows representing variables (IBM n.p.).
The rows bear names of the variables and various characteristics related to the variable such as the type of measurement used. The user can manually edit the data in the cells irrespective of the type of view (IBM n.p.). In this way, he/she can define the file structure to allow for data entry without having to go through the time-intensive process of developing command-dependent operations.
When using the software for analyzing larger volumes of data from statistical researches, various methods can be used to feed the collected information into the system. These include using the computer aided personal interview function, using the optical character/mark recognition feature or directly capturing information by the use of internet mediated questionnaires.
Data types and formats
SPSS can recognize information contained in ASCII files and various other statistical packages which mainly operate using spreadsheets and databases (IBM n.p.). On the output end, the program can send information to relational databases using the likes of SQL and ODBC as intermediaries. The program releases statistical information using the.spv extension which can either be read using a viewer that is in-built into the software or can be accessed using a standalone reader. The program can also export information to Microsoft word as well as packaging it in form of images.
The first version of SPSS was mainly used in the execution of various programs with punched cards being used to feed data into the system. The analytical process was done by comparing the input information to already stored records before the appropriate feedback was produced. Over the years various modifications have been made with the program acquiring advancement to the numerical tag at the end of the software name.
When SPSS was bought by IBM, the company’s tag was also added to the name. For instance, version 10.0 (also known as IBM SPSS-X) was in the market in 1983. The latest version of the program is version IBM SPSS 19.0. This version has gone through various enhancements which have the benefit of increasing its performance effectiveness. It also has features that make it easy it use aside from a speed that simplifies all the analytical functions. Users can do a lot of work within a very short period of time using this software.
Computer requirements for IBM SPSS version 19.0
This, being the latest version of the program, requires very fast and efficient computers. Below are the basic aspects of a system that can support this software”. The program can either operate in Windows or in Mac OS.
PC system requirements
Microsoft windows XP can be used with the 32 bit version while windows 7 and Vista can run both the 32 bit and the 64 bit versions. The processor must be at operating at a minimum of one gigahertz for either Intel or AMD and the Random Access Memory should be at least one gigabyte. A minimum of 500 MB of space should be available in the hard disk. If the user needs the help feature to be presented in more than one language, then he/she must have between 60 and70 MB of space per language. For the monitor, the a monitor that can produce information at very high resolutions is needed and if the computer has to be connected to a common server an adapter for linking to the network should be provided.
Mac system requirements
IBM SPSS 19.0 for Mac requires an Intel Mac with MacOS 10.5/10.6. Since the program is a java based and therefore the user has to install the latest Java updates.
IBM. About SPSS Inc. IBM Corporation, n.d. Web.