Archive for April 19th, 2006

Looking for patterns in data

This weekend we got a question from Kat, who is desperately ;) looking for our help. She is working on a project with a lot of data in Excel:

“I am in the middle of a project for which I have constructed a large table in Microsoft Excel.

The table consists of variables going across the top, and cases down the side. The cells contain numbers (ie. the frequency of each variable within each case). Many of the cells have no number or the variable has zero frequency in that case.

I want to look for patterns with in the data, that is , similarities between cases. It has been suggested that I do this visually, however the table is so big it would take forever. I am wondering if you know of an application within SPSS which looks for patterns in this way. It would be an enormous help to my work if there is such a thing.”

Well Kat, to begin, of course you should always use SPSS, and never Excel for analysing your data. :)
There are two ways to solve your problem:

1. Do it the hard way by comparing all answers with a correlation test. This means you would have to compare all the questions (and their answers) to see if there is a correlation between them. Doing this, you will in the end have found all relationships and be able to find the patterns.

2. There is an easy way, but for this you need an extra piece of software from SPSS, called “SPSS Categories“. In the software you can put in ratings and categories, and the software will display graphically (and in figures) the possible relationships in your data.

Good luck analysing your data!

April 19th, 2006 andris


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