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Re: PSPP plug-in for Open Office? Or, some other work-flow?

From: David Nasatir
Subject: Re: PSPP plug-in for Open Office? Or, some other work-flow?
Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2009 18:22:16 -0700
User-agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20090605)

Hi David,

I'm with you!

As it happens my university will no longer support an SPSS license for student use and, appalled at the existing cost of texts and readers, I do not want to ask students to purchase individual licenses or even (expensive) texts that come with a version bundled for student use.

I have asked the wonderful individual in charge of maintaining the Social Science Computing Lab at our institution to install psppire 0.7.2 and intend to make it the mainstay for the course that I teach designed to introduce undergraduates to some of the quantitative methods of research used by sociologists.

So far I have been able to download and process some large data sets quite easily but, as you suggest, have run into two problems; creating graphs and moving output into a word processing environment.

I have been able to copy output and paste it into Open Office Writer with success although I believe we will probably employ Star Office instead of Open Office.

Graphing scatter plots in PSPP has proven to be a challenge , however. As you may have noted , there appear to be others concerned with this as well and I have been given some reason to hope that this capability may be created sometime in the future. My semester starts at the end of August, however and, until there is a seamless way to accomplish this I will probably resort to the following:

1) copy the columns in SPSS that contain the relevant data.
2) paste those columns into Open (or Star) Office Calc
3) Invoke the "scatter" plot option from among the available plots
4) go to "insert" and chose the line you wish to fit to the scatter plot from the available plot lines.
5) copy the resulting image
6) paste the image into whatever word processor is being  employed.

I, for one, would be ecstatic if someone would point out a simpler means to accomplish this. My goal here is to include graphics in a document to reflect how data actually are distributed (in a two variable array, at least) and what the best fitting (line) curve actually looks like...not just the algebraic function that describes that line.

Many, many thanks (in all the relevant languages reading this post)

(the Berkeley) David

David English wrote:
Sorry to butt into this list from out in left field, but I just have an
odd question.

We have SPSS installed in our computer labs (which I maintain) and I'm
trying to nudge the faculty over to PSPP, which they don't even want
installed because "it might confuse the students".  The sticking point
is the GUI, or slim availability of charting there-in.

Now, personally, I know little of stats and my SPSS skills include
installing it, licensing it, starting it, and showing students where
they've lost their data.  So, my arguments about doing students a
service by showing them open-source software that they can actually use,
anywhere, instead of teaching proprietary garbage (anything with DRM is
garbage as far as I'm concerned) that the student will have to steal to
use at home...  well, I'm not winning.

So, I was thinking...

Is there available, or has anyone considered building, an Open-Office
plug-in that allows students to use the Calc GUI and charting while
using the stats capabilities of PSPP?  I mean, most of the time, the
faculty are getting their students to create Word documents and then
cut/paste the SPSS graphs into said documents.  If it were entirely
within the word processor, Calc embedded in Write for example, then it
would have to be easier.

Is there a documented PSPP work-flow for inputting, analyzing, charting,
and creating a final document with the results.  Again, I'm no stats
expert, but there has to be an "easier to teach" way than what they are
doing now.  All I get is the same garbage argument about how they're
trying to teach stats, not how to use a program, so it has to be easy.
But, they way they're doing it, through multiple GUIs is NOT easy, and
is very prone to errors and stupid formatting problems (that I get to
help students solve).  What they're really saying is that they don't
want to bother learning a new way of doing it, even if it is better, and
free, and they're paid 2-months out of every year to develop
curriculum...  ARRGGHH!  So, if it's going to happen, I'm going to have
to prove to them that I can get the same results with less effort, and
in an easier-to-teach way.

Okay, so that's a little bit more than one question (more of a rant
really), but I'd appreciate any insights or pointers,


P.S.  Are there any progressive faculty using PSPP for entry-level STATS
courses that I could pester for course notes?

 David English, Instructional Technologist, address@hidden
 Computing Services, Information Technology    Tel: (250) 370-3698
 Camosun College, 3100 Foul Bay Rd. Victoria, B.C. Canada. V8P 5J2

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