SPSS PASW Tutorials

I finally managed to finish my MA dissertation on political blogs in the UK. As many of my observations and hypotheses are based on quantitative data, I used SPSS/PASW to calculate comparable statistics. It is one of the most powerful and versatile pieces of software for such purposes. However, it is not very easy to use and might repel some users at first.

Various books on the issue exist, which can significantly differ in their quality: Some are endeavoring to explain the very complex statistical mathematics step by step, to make them easily replicable. Others presume that the reader already has an elaborated knowledge of statistics and the formulas as well as terms in use. During my research I read through both kinds of books and I will list here two very useful introductions:

Field, Andy P. (2009) Discovering Statistics Using SPSS. Los Angeles & London: Sage.

This very comprehensive monograph explains everything about statistics in SPSS from the very basics. Field uses a comprehensive language, lots of illustrative examples, and succeeds in explaining the prosaic issue in an entertaining, humorous way. He elucidates quite eloquently the most important mathematical operations behind each step before he shows how to implement a certain type of statistical processing via SPSS/PASW. The ideal handbook for every person who wants/needs to deal with this program.

Bryman, Allan/Cramer, Duncan (2005) Quantitative Data Analysis With SPSS: A Guide for Social Scientists. London: Routledge.

As the title suggests, this book introduces SPSS for sociologists. Hence, it is applicable to certain branches of communication- and media studies, too. Though not fully ‘up-to-date’, the explanations for using SPSS in specific social science research projects are clear and convertible. Cramer and Duncan’s tone is more sober and less casual than Field’s style of writing. Nevertheless, this book is far easier to comprehend for beginners and non-staticians than many of its counterparts.

Moreover, there are various online sources. One notable example are the video tutorials provided by Central Michigan University (CMU) – these clips show beginners step-by-step how to use the software and solve statistical problems. Check them out here.

Interesting and Helpful Reading

During the last weeks I had the chance to read / skim some interesting books – some of them might become handy for you as well. Here I briefly digest the most important ones to me:

Bruhn Jensen, Klaus (2002) A Handbook of Media and Communication Research. Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies. London and New York: Routledge.

This book provides a comprehensive collection of essays on scientific methodologies in media and communication studies. It is structured in three main parts, each consisting of at least two articles. Part one gives an historical introduction into research methods in media and communication studies. The focus is put on the humanities in media / communication research and sociological approaches. Part two deals with systematics and processes of mediated communication. The articles in this chapter are subdivided into four categories: texts on media organizations, media texts, media audiences and media contexts. The third and last part focuses scientific approaches and social applications; the articles of this chapter describe quantitative and qualitative research processes as well as the complementary use of both approaches in one project. Regarding our own MA projects, this book can be very helpful to develop an appropriate scientific method.

Lister, Martin / Dovey, Jon / Giddings, Seth / Grant, Ian / Kelly, Kieran (eds.) (2009) New Media. A Critical Introduction. Second Edition. Oxon and New York: Routledge.

This work subsumes the current state of research on the New Media. It provides a comprehensive and elaborate conjunction of theoretical approaches and practical examples. Topics are New Media and New Technologies, New Media and Visual Culture, Networks, Users and Economics, New Media in Everyday Life and Cyberculture. Therefore, the book deals with a wide range of issues we discussed in Information Societies so far. The reader gets an widespread overview of the topic(s) and can use this as a basis for further research.

Webster, Frank (1995) Theories of the Information Society. London: Routledge.

Despite the fact that Webster’s book is a bit older than other, similar publications, it still gives a good introduction into the discussion on information societies. He focuses the ‘shape’ of information in modern, post-industrial societies, especially in a capitalistic context. Though the huge changes caused by the internet were at the time of publication only at the beginning, some of Webster’s basic observations, assessments and thoughts are applicable to current issues. A highly theoretical work, which postulates some knowledge in postmodernism and epistemology.

Rice, Ronald E. / Atkin, Charles K. (eds.)(2001) Public Communication Campaigns. Third Edition. Thousand Oaks, Cal.: Sage Publications.

PR-campaigns are one of the countless sources which feed information into the continuously flowing data-stream of today’s media-/ information society. How to approach, assess, identify and finally create such PR information products? This book provides therefore a comprehensive, (academic) examination of this kind of media artefacts. It consists of five chapters, ranging from historical and theoretical foundations, campaign design and evaluation,  several case studies to new approaches and current challenges. The chosen articles set value on the combination of theoretical approaches and practical examples.