Einspruch, Eric L. An introductory guide to SPSS® for Windows®. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2005. x, 145 pp. ISBN 1 4129 0415 3. $37.95.
The goal of the introductory guide is to provide the basic understanding and skills for the use of one of the most popular computer programs for data analysis in social science. The target group is beginners that just start using SPSS for any purpose, though most beneficial it is for those who study for a Master's or doctoral degree.
The book consists of an introduction, seven chapters, and conclusions. The introduction explains the purpose of the book and helps to understand the scope of the book that takes a reader through the whole range of operations from creation of datasets to performing statistical analysis and using the syntax facilities step by step. The author directs the user's attention to the SPSS manuals as the main help tool. Each chapter also provides hands-on exercises - tasks that are useful not only for understanding the main features of the software, but also for developing practical skills. To my greatest relief, at the end of the book there is also an appendix, which provides solutions to the exercises that serve as a tool of self-evaluation.
I have read most of the chapters as is suggested by the author looking at the SPSS and performing the actions parallelly to the text. This slowed down my reading, but I could appreciate the perfection and transparency of the text. It is very clear without being primitive and the examples provided in the book are not only relevant, but also interesting. And everything works in the program as described! Writing instructions is one of the most difficult tasks for any writer as they require to avoid two major dangers: the parternalistic, condescending to the reader's ignorance and leaving out important details that may be self-evident for the writer, but are crucial for a novice. The author of this book has managed to avoid both of them. Reading the text and working with SPSS left me with a wonderful feeling of competence. Of course, I have worked with this software before and I had the same version as the one described in the book, so it would be interesting to test it on a pure beginner. However, I also found out some things that I was doing differently and in most cases decided that the version in the book was easier and better.
The language is easy to follow, the illustrations are in the right places, the highlighted parts of the text are relevant and help to perform the described operations. Each chapter also starts with an explanation of the purpose and the goal of a chapter and a short glossary of the most important terms, with short definitions within a box. This simple trick allows the author to lighten the text and also helps a reader to use the text as a handbook, selecting chapters according to need.
I also would recommed the book as a guide for trainers working with users of SPSS as it provides assistance in simple formulations and can be a source of practical exercises.
Prof. Elena Maceviciute