Maybe I’ve noticed it more because I’m getting ready for next week’s SPSS in GLM workshop. Just this week, I’ve had a number of experiences with people’s struggle with SPSS, and GLM in particular.
Number 1: I read this in a technical report by Patrick Burns comparing SPSS to R:
“SPSS is notorious for its attitude of ‘You want to do one of these things. If you don’t understand what the output means, click help and we’ll pop up five lines of mumbo-jumbo that you’re not going to understand either.’ “
And while I still prefer SPSS, I had to laugh because the anonymous person Burns quotes is right on the nose about its documentation.
Number 2: Yesterday, I had a consultation with a PhD student who hired out the entire data analysis for her dissertation. We were going over her output and she said that she started out doing it herself, and was doing okay implementing the analysis, but was completely overwhelmed trying to understand what the output told her, and it made her doubt her intelligence. She was, of course, using GLM.
(An aside rant: It makes me mad that statistics, the field, does this to people. Would you feel bad if you had trouble sailing a boat across an ocean or performing heart surgery after taking a couple classes? No! Doing data analysis on real, messy data isn’t like solving a few text book examples! End of rant).
Number 3: Just this afternoon I had a consultation with another student who was confused about how to enter which variables into which parts of GLM. She’d been stuck for a while, because the directions she’d been following to do a path analysis were all in the context of a regression. And it just isn’t obvious that SPSS means “any continuous predictor” when it says “Covariate.”
Number 4: This morning, I received an email listing some interesting facts, among them: “Banging your head against a wall burns 150 calories an hour.” I’m pretty sure that one is not specifically about SPSS, but it could be.
All of this is exactly why I created the workshop, which starts next Tuesday. Once you decode SPSS’s unique terminology and learn how ANOVA and regression fit into the GLM framework (which isn’t unique to SPSS), it’s actually logical. If you find yourself in the situation of any of these people, join us in the workshop.
Just think, once you’re not struggling with SPSS, you’ll have time for a healthier way to burn 150 calories. 🙂