Statistical Software Used in this Book

Throughout this book you will find Lessons that will take you through procedures to manipulate and analyze given data using two statistical software applications:

  1. IBM® SPSS® Statistics software (referred to more simply as “SPSS”)
  2. RStudio, from The R Project for Statistical Computing.

Accessing SPSS and RStudio Through Your School

See the page University of Saskatchewan: Software Access for more details on how to do this.

Downloading SPSS and RStudio

SPSS Statistics

SPSS Statistics is not a free program.

A trial version of SPSS can be downloaded at: https://www.ibm.com/analytics/spss-trials

If you really want to download the program (not in a trial version), see some information on student rates at: https://www.ibm.com/analytics/academic-statistical-software; however, consider carefully how necessary this is before you spend any of your own money, and look carefully at any terms of licensing (i.e., some licenses may only give you access for a set number of months). Unless you are in a position where you can get an employer or research supervisor to pay for it, you may want to stick with the cost-free options available to you.

RStudio

A free, open-source, non-commercial desktop version of RStudio can be downloaded at: https://rstudio.com/products/rstudio/download/

Why does this book cover both SPSS and RStudio?

While both SPSS and RStudio are powerful analytical tools, they operate differently and each have their pros and cons.

The history of SPSS Statistics goes back to the 1960s, and for many years it has been a standard for students and researchers working in the social sciences (SPSS, in fact, originally stood for Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, but was later changed to Statistical Product and Service Solutions). It is still an extremely popular and commonly-used package, and one that you are likely to find is used in labs and workplaces when you start to search for research and employment positions. For this reason, it is still essential for psychology graduates to have a solid grasp of how to use this program.

The more-recent R Project for Statistical Computing (which put together RStudio) offers a free, open-source option. This means that anybody can access the software, and its community of users and developers can contribute to improving and updating the software. While it is increasing in popularity, it has yet to reach the ubiquitousness of SPSS.

So which Lessons should you do? SPSS or RStudio?

Well, first ask your instructor — if they want you to submit assignments that utilize a particular program, or if they are likely to ask you to interpret outputs from a particular program on your examinations, then you’d better complete the Lessons for that program!

Second, consider what skills you want to develop. Employers and/or supervisors are still very likely to expect psychology graduates to have SPSS skills. Would it benefit you, or set you apart from other research/employment candidates, to have a good grasp of both SPSS and RStudio? Do both sets of Lessons and practice using each program.

If you are a graduate student or somebody with a bit more freedom, who is just looking for some help analyzing data to support their research, then you could choose either program. Trying both for a little while might give you a good sense of which you prefer and why, or which might work better for your particular research situations.