Data Input for SPSS
SPSS appears on the screen looking like most other Windows programs. Two windows are initially available: the data input window and the output widow. When SPSS first comes up, it is ready to accept new data. To begin entering data, look at the menu options across the top of the screen:
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Clicking on one of these options opens a menu of related options, many of which will not be available until enough information has been provided to allow the procedure to run. To begin the process of a computing a correlation, click on the Data option, then click on Define Variable. This will open an input window that allows you to define the first variable by giving it a name and other information that will make it easier to use the variable in statistical analyses and interpret the output. When this window is opened the default name for the variable is displayed and highlighted. Just type a name for the first variable that uses less than eight characters. For example, the first variable in the above example could be called colgpa, a name that is less than eight characters and gives a good indication of the nature of the variable (college GPA). It is also useful to have more information about the variable and this can be done by clicking on the Labels... button which appears at the bottom of the window. This button opens another window which allows you to add more information about the variable, including an extended label, such as College GPA for 1999. You can also add what are called value labels using this same window. Value labels allow you to give names to particular values of a nominal or categorical variable. For example, most studies have a variable called Sex that can take on two values, 1 = Female or 2 = Male. The value labels option allows you to have these labels attached to all the output from statistical analyses which simplifies interpretation and reporting. Entering value labels also means you don't need to remember how the variable was coded (i.e., whether males were coded 1 or 2) when you view the output. After entering a variable name and value labels for the first variable, close the Labels... input window by clicking the Continue button. Then click the OK button on the Define Variable window. The next step is to use the mouse and left mouse button or the arrow keys to reposition the cross to the first cell in the second column of the data input spreadsheet. Then define the second variable using the same process. Continue defining variables until all the variables have been defined.
Once the variables have been defined, the data can be entered into the spreadsheet. (These tasks can be done in the opposite order, as well.) This requires working with the Newdata or spreadsheet window. To begin, make sure the cursor is flashing at the top of the spreadsheet window and that the upper left cell of the spreadsheet is highlighted. To highlight a cell use the mouse to move the cross to the desired cell of the spreadsheet and click the left mouse button. The arrow keys also work well to navigate around the spreadsheet. Now begin entering data by typing the first piece of data. In the above example the first entry would be 1.8. This number will appear at the top of the spreadsheet. Hit <ENTER> to move the data into the correct cell. Notice that after hitting <ENTER> the second cell in the first column is now highlighted. The next piece of data (3.9) can be entered using the same procedure. Thus, data is automatically entered vertically. Continue until all the data for the first column have been entered. After entering all the data for the first column, use the mouse or arrow keys to highlight the first cell in the second column and begin entering the second column of data using the same technique. If a piece of data is missing (e.g., the participant did not answer one or more of the questions on a survey), simply hit <ENTER> when the input cell at the top of the spreadsheet is empty. This will cause a dot to appear in the spreadsheet cell which is interpreted by SPSS as missing data. SPSS has very flexible options for handling missing data. Usually, the default or standard option is the best one to use.
In larger studies with a lot of variables, it may be more convenient to go across or horizontally, entering all the data for the first participant followed by all the data for the second participant, continuing until all the data have been entered. In order to do this it will be necessary to make more frequent use of the mouse and left button or the arrow keys to highlight the next cell going across. When data for a large study is being entered, it is best to work with a partner. One person can read the data and the other can type. This greatly increases speed and accuracy.
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