Reviews

Using SPSS syntax: a beginner’s guide

As someone who is comfortable with analysing data in SAS using coding language, it is perplexing that I run from the use of syntax in SPSS. But, my apprehension has subsided with the Collier’s guide. Syntax command can automate processes, increase reproducibility and give the user broader access to features otherwise unavailable in SPSS.

Being drawn to the list of syntax command examples in the preface of the book, I chose to use some of the instruction as a mini crash course with a medium-sized data set. I began with labeling variables and converting variable values. I was able to define missing values and do a few computations quite easily.

I thought the instruction was direct and the process went quicker than anticipated. I ended up with a legible output and a scatter plot resembling what I would have achieved using the drop-down menus.

I would conclude that anyone with a fairly grounded knowledge of statistical methods would fare much better (and faster) than anyone who has just started to grasp statistical concepts and has chosen to advance into the next step of using statistical analysis programs.

There is no lack of examples and application of syntax command. Collier’s book not only grapples with

...

Being drawn to the list of syntax command examples in the preface of the book, I chose to use some of the instruction as a mini crash course with a medium-sized data set. I began with labeling variables and converting variable values. I was able to define missing values and do a few computations quite easily.

I thought the instruction was direct and the process went quicker than anticipated. I ended up with a legible output and a scatter plot resembling what I would have achieved using the drop-down menus.

I would conclude that anyone with a fairly grounded knowledge of statistical methods would fare much better (and faster) than anyone who has just started to grasp statistical concepts and has chosen to advance into the next step of using statistical analysis programs.

There is no lack of examples and application of syntax command. Collier’s book not only grapples with the technical aspect of learning SPSS language commands, but there is detailed explanation of advantages and disadvantages of the presented methods, personal accounts of problematic sequences and their fixes, and tips and tricks that are easy to follow and relatable to the real world researcher and analyst.

Wordiness was one downside; which may not be directly attributable to the author herself; the amount of physical text throughout the chapters seemed bulky. Already knowing what I wanted, where I could get it, and having a mental visualisation of what my end result would be, I found myself skipping sentences.

One of the most invaluable aspects of the text is how the use of syntax is explained concomitant with the use of the drop-down menus.

In addition to the feel of simply having more control of your data, any heavily relaxed user of the standard SPSS menu-driven interface could increase their analytic capacity with the use of this book.

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