Tag Archive | SPSS

Andy Field’s Discovering Statistics using SPSS – a student review

As mentioned before in my post on Research Methods and Skills here is a review of the book by Andy Field that has proved to be most helpful in my current post-graduate statistics course:

FIELD, A (3rd ed.) (2009) Discovering Statistics using SPSS. London: Sage.

For this 820 pages oeuvre there is a companion available with a number of student resources such as multiple choice questions and a flash card gloassary. Field’s companion on Sage
I got the edition which includes a 13 months student licence for SPSS Version 17.0.

Here are a number of reviews on Amazon . It is the most user-friendly, smart-structured, and accessible as well as entertaining Statistics book I have come across. If you are a busy student with more than a commitment to studies, try this. Field is doing a fantastic job in providing an all-you-need volume which does not step into the trap so many other authors seem to be unable to avoid. All those who believe they can fragment statistics and provide either the maths only, or the SPSS only or some statistics chunk food that leaves you unsatisfied as you still don’t understand how to apply findings to a case other than the model discussed.

Field’s book provides a 16-pages glossary, 7-pages references, index plus an appendix which contains the following:

  1. Table of the standard normal distribution
  2. Critical values of the t-distribution
  3. Critical values of the F-distribution
  4. Critical values of the chi-square distribution

There is a separate chapter about SPSS, the environment, the viewer, the SmartViewer, the syntax and more. A list of mathematical operators, Greek symbols and English symbols comes in very handy, so does the brief maths revision
EasyMaths .

Each chapter highlights at the end the important terms which is very useful for revision. There are self-tests, references for further reading and interesting real research as well as areas which explain either ‘strange dialogue boxes’ (in SPSS and how to make sense of them) or concepts (such as degree of freedom).

The chapters are structured in a clear manner, the language is clear and terms are explained throughout so that you won’t have to flip nervously through several books at the same time and do the work a smart author and editing team would have done for you. Formulae and tables produced in SPSS are displayed in a logical manner, for instance the dialog box to be selected in SPSS is followed by a scatterplot which in turn is illustrated by SPSS outputs. The latter are also explained in detail so you know what they actually mean, how to write them up in a conventional way, how to analyse them and how to interpret the outcome. Key terms have been printed in red and the SPSS dialogue boxes also come in colour.

Recoding, for instance, is explained for those using the recode function in SPSS but also for those who do a lot of recoding, there is the syntax and a related file on the CD. There is a number of data sets available to play with, Field has chosen to provide areas such as the impact of Viagra on a person’s libido (getting those on board who are tired of jobs in postoffice.sav or the little inspiring government statistics on traffic) in order to explain ANOVA (analysis of variance).

Field’s Statistics Hell is also very useful and offers:

  • Lectures on frequency distributions
  • Handouts: SPSS: t-test, frequency distributions and correlation

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Statistics makes me cry – Andy Field makes statistics sexy

„Statistics makes me cry“ – how many times have I seen this over the past months? Too often, I decided Friday night, when I submitted the last piece of coursework for the Research Skills and Survey Methods Master’s course (DT840 / DTZY840 at the Open University which is a compulsory course for the MSc in Human Geography Research Methods, MSc in Management and Business Research Methods MSc in Psychological Research Methods, MSc in Research Methods for Educational Technology MSc in Social Research Methods, MSc in Technology Strategy Research).

With only the exam to go, in October, I felt it is time to write a brief review and summarise the sources I have been using in order to make this least of inspiring courses more useful. Good news first: the course contributed significantly to me growing up as an independent student who critically evaluates sources. I also learned to make hard choices: do I need to gain marks only or will I need to understand the concepts in depth? And hence, perhaps disagree with the course authors which may make me loose marks on the short term but gain on the long term, in future projects. Sadly, it seems, students still have to make such kind of choices, in my case that included discussing with the staff tutor a change of the allocated associate lecturer.

The bad news: at more than GBP1300 you expect a minimum of quality of teaching material – prepare yourself for disappointment, unless you spend a little more on secondary literature and some additional time on the internet. Make the most of it – and enjoy the inspiration that comes with leaving the tightly demarcated patch called „you won’t need to know this for the next paper, exam etc“. There is no rule that says you cannot grow more independent before having finished your PhD.

So, above, in a separate post I will publish a list of resources I have been using with comments and links, hoping you will find it useful or add whatever you think should be added.

And before I forget: my deepest thanks to Dr Andy Field who helped me see the usefulness of statistics, who made me laugh and who made me believe that also writing a statistics book can be real fun (according to all the photos he included and all the references to the 1970 and 1980s). No doubt, he’s heard that before. And he’s been officially rewarded for his teaching talent. I don’t take enthusiastic lecturers for granted, as you may have noticed…

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