SPSS. SPSS, which stands for Statistical Package for Social Science, is the most popular quantitative analysis software program used in social science research. It is comprehensive and flexible and can be used with almost any type of file. It can be used to generate tabulated reports, charts, and plots of distributions and trends, as well as generate descriptive statistics and more complex statistical analyses. SPSS provides a user interface that makes it very easy and intuitive for all levels of users. Menus and dialogue boxes make it possible to perform analyses without having to write command syntax, like in other programs. It is also simple and easy to enter and edit data directly into the program. There are a few drawbacks, however, which might not make it the best program for some researchers. For example, there is a limit on the number of cases you can analyze. It is also difficult to account for weights, strata, and group effects with SPSS.
STATA. STATA is an interactive data analysis program that runs on a variety of platforms. It can be used for both simple and complex statistical analyses. STATA uses a point-and-click interface as well as command syntax, which makes it easy to use. STATA also make it easy to generate graphs and plots of data and results.
Analysis in STATA is centered around four windows: the command window, the review window, the result window, and the variable window. Analysis commands are entered into the command window and the review window records those commands. The variables window lists the variables that are available in the current data set along with the variable labels, and the results window is where the results appear.
SAS. SAS, short for Statistical Analysis System, is also used by a great deal of businesses because, in addition to statistical analysis, it also allows programmers to perform report writing, graphics, business planning, forecasting, quality improvement, project management, and more. SAS is a great program for the intermediate and advanced user because it is very powerful, can be used with extremely large data sets, and can perform complex and advanced analyses. SAS is good for analyses that require you to take into account weights, strata, or groups. Unlike SPSS and STATA, SAS is run largely by programming syntax rather than point-and-click menus, so some knowledge of the programming language is required.
Babbie, E. (2001). The Practice of Social Research: 9th Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Thomson.