Computer Aid for Quantitative Data Analysis
Until the advent of powerful personal computers data were analyzed either by hand or by using mainframe computers. The former of these was extremely time consuming Fortunately the by hand or calculator number crunching and charting elements of quantitative analysis have been incorporated into relatively inexpensive personal element computer based analysis software. These range from spreadsheets such as excel and lotus 1 2- 3 to more advanced data management and statistical analysis software packages such as Minitab SAS, SPSS for windows and stat view. They also include more specialized survey design and analysis packages such as snap and sphinx survey. Consequently it is no longer necessary for you to be able to draw presentation quality diagrams or to calculate statistics by hand as these can be done by computer.
Survey design and analysis software such as snap and sphinx survey goes one stage further and integrates the analysis software in the same package as the questionnaire design data input software.
Virtually all analysis software will accept data if they are entered in table format. This table is called a data matrix. Once data have been entered into analysis software it is usually possible to save them in a format that can be read by other software. Within a data matrix each column usually represents a single variable for which you have obtained data. Each matrix row contains the variables for an individual case that is an individual init for which data has been obtained. If your data have been collected using a survey each row will contain the data from one survey form. Alternatively for longitudinal data such as a company share price over time each row ( case) might be a different time period. Secondary data that have already been stored in computer readable form will almost always be held as a large data matrix. For such data sets you usually select the subset of variable form will almost always require and save these on a disk as a separate matrix. If you are entering your own data they are typed directly into your chosen analysis software one case ( row) at a time. We recommend that you save your data regularly as you are entering it to minimize the chance of deleting it all by accident in addition you should keep a back up or security copy on a separate disk.