Discovering Statistics Using SPSS

discovering stats.jpeg

If you’re looking for an introduction or reference for statistical analysis, this is the one book I can recommend without reservation.

From how to quantify your research to reporting your results in various styles, this book covers it all with unmatched thoroughness, organization, and humor. Yes, humor.

I’ve owned a copy since the 3rd edition was released, and recently purchased a second so that I can have a clean copy to lend out. I believe that it’s especially helpful because it’s a statistics textbook that wasn’t written by a statistician. While it covers plenty of theory, the author originally wrote it as a reference for himself. Its intended audience is those who need to use statistics to conduct or understand research.

It also provides the best manual you can get for SPSS, the most popular statistical software for the social sciences. Andy Field doesn’t screw around when he explains how to conduct analyses in SPSS; he gets right to the point about what each function does, what each option means, and how its related to the work you need to do.

The book doesn’t just show me how to conduct analyses in SPSS, it provides an understanding of the theory involved that helps me decide whether or not a particular method is the right one to use. For methods with which I might not be familiar, Andy Field doesn’t hold your hand, but he does an excellent job getting me up to speed on the theory so that I can weigh the pros and cons of an analysis or an option myself.

It’s also extremely helpful as a quick reference if I need to remember how to properly report results or I forget what a certain type of output means for the validity of my study. It does what I believe a great textbook should do: it balances itself between being an accessible introduction to the topic and being a quick reference for those with some experience.

It’s also hilarious to read, especially if you love dirty jokes.

Note: The book comes with access to example files online that you can use to follow along with the introductory lessons for each method. I have not ever used these myself, but I have heard from an experienced stats instructor that they are the best she has seen.

-- Brandon LaRue  

Discovering Statistics Using SPSS
Andy Field, Third Edition
2009, 856 pages
$71

Available from Amazon