This is fundamentally a reference book. Parts of the book are written as stand‐alone tutorials to make it easy for you to get into whatever you’re after. Once you’re up and running with SPSS, you can skip around and read just the sections you need. You really don’t want to read straight through the entire book. That way leads to boredom. We know — we went straight through everything to write the book, and believe us, you don’t want to do that.
This book is not about math. It’s about statistics. You don’t derive anything. You don’t do any math by hand or look up numbers in statistical tables. You won’t find one explanation of how calculations are performed under the hood. This book is about the things you can do to command SPSS to calculate statistics for you. The inside truth is that you can be as dumb as a post about statistical calculation techniques and still use SPSS to produce some nifty stats!
However, if you decide to study the techniques of statistical calculation, you’ll be able to understand what SPSS does to produce numbers. Your main advantage in understanding the process to that degree of detail is that you’ll be able to choose a calculation method that more closely models the reality you’re trying to analyze — if you’re interested in reality, of course.
Throughout the book you find examples that use data stored in files. These files are freely available to you. Most of the files are installed with IBM SPSS Statistics in the SPSS installation directory, which, by default, is \Program Files\SPSS (unless you chose another location during installation). A few files were designed for this book and are available on the book’s companion website (see “Beyond the Book” for more information). In every case, the files were especially designed to demonstrate some specific capability of SPSS.