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Research and Statistical Support - University of North Texas

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Link to the last RSS article here: One-way Repeated Measures and Corresponding Multiple Comparisons using SPSS and R - Ed.

Using Report in SPSS 11.5, Part 1 of 2

By Patrick McLeod, Research and Statistical Support Services Consultant

With the decommissioning of the academic mainframe now a reality after many months of diligent planning, certain processes that used to run on the academic mainframe are now being transitioned to desktop processing. One of these processes is the running of faculty evaluations, a process that is being transitioned from a proprietary mainframe program to desktop processing using SPSS 11.5 for Windows. In the first part of a two-part article on using the functionality of the Report tool in SPSS 11.5 for processing faculty evaluations, we will discuss the basics of Report and how to set up a simple report using both the drop-down menus and syntax. 

Since faculty evaluations are sensitive affairs, I will not be discussing this new SPSS-generated report in step-by-step detail. However, we will go through the report-generation process with a similar report using some similar methods. Since the faculty evaluations also contain sensitive data, all data used in these two articles is generic data found in the SPSS home directory, from a file called Employee Data. 

From the Help menu, Syntax Guide, Base Syntax, in SPSS 11.5, a description of the Report tool: 

REPORT produces case listings and summary statistics and gives you considerable control over the appearance of the output. REPORT calculates all the univariate statistics available in DESCRIPTIVES and the statistics and subpopulation means available in MEANS. In addition, REPORT calculates statistics not directly available in any other procedure, such as computations involving aggregated statistics. REPORT provides complete report format defaults but also lets you customize a variety of table elements, including column widths, titles, footnotes, and spacing. Because REPORT is so flexible and the output has so many components, it is often efficient to preview report output using a small number of cases until you find the format that best suits your needs.

Report is a very extensible, quite powerful tool in SPSS 11.5 that is often overlooked by many in the university research community who are more focused on the other specific statistical analyses offered in SPSS. However, for the university administrative community, Report offers nearly unlimited potential for customized reports by administrative groups from their desktops instead of relying on the mainframe for such report generation.

Drop-Down Menus and Syntax

To begin utilizing the power of the Report tool in SPSS 11.5, we should begin the discussion with a brief digression about merits of drop-down menus (also known a the GUI, or Graphical User Interface) versus syntax. The widespread advent of drop-down menu functionality in statistical packages allows the user to point-and-click his or her way through the basic levels of most statistical functions in the most recent versions of SPSS, S-Plus, and Stata. While ease of use is a crucial function of any statistical package, most researchers will find that the “canned” nature of drop-down implemented models and tests are not sufficient for their research needs. Where the functionality of drop-down menus ends, the functionality of syntax begins. Syntax, or the programmable language of a statistical package, allows the user to customize most or all of the functions of that statistical package to fit the needs of their research. 

Happily SPSS 11.5 allows the user who isn’t comfortable with syntax but needs the extensibility it offers a way out. In nearly every dialog box that opens up whenever a particular analysis is run in SPSS, there will be an option for “PASTE” located on the right-hand side of the dialog box. Here’s an example (screenshot 1): 

SPSS Data Editor Screen Shot

The button for “PASTE” is located immediately below the “OK” button. By clicking on “PASTE,” SPSS will paste the appropriate syntax into a syntax editor window! The syntax will reflect all customizations that have been selected in the particular dialog box for a particular type of analysis. For example, in the picture above, any customizations the user requested from SPSS under the “STATISTICS” and “OPTIONS” selections would be reflected in the syntax that SPSS will paste into the syntax editor. If you utilize this option, you will need to run your analysis from within the syntax editor.

A Simple Report

In this section we will look at a simple report generated from our example data. We will generate simple case summaries with mean and range statistics by using the combined power of the drop-down menu system and syntax.

First, we click on Analyze, then Report, then across to Case Summaries (screenshot 2): 

Case Summaries Screen Shot

Next, we select our variables to be reported in our case summaries (screenshot 3) and the statistics (screenshot 4): 

Data Editor Screen Shot

 Data Editor Screen Shot

After we have selected the variables to be reported in the case summaries and the statistics, when then paste the syntax as discussed above: 

SPSS Data Editor Screen Shot

After pasting, we highlight the syntax and run the routine, producing the following output:

SPSS Viewer Screen Shot

In Part 2 of this article appearing next month in Benchmarks we will customize this report’s layout and reported statistics using the syntax output from Part 1. Happy computing!