About SPSS

SPSS is a software package that can be used to perform data entry and statistical analyses.

Saving your files in SPSS in the vLab

It’s really important you learn first up where to save your files in SPSS in the vLab so you don’t lose them.

If you were using the vLab prior to the upgrade in March 2019, you may have been familiar with the H drive, which has changed.

To better understand where to save your files in SPSS in the vLab, you need to know the difference between the two versions of Citrix.

This video, which also appears on the Start Here page of the vLab explains the difference for you:

Once you have an understanding of Citrix, it makes uploading and saving files in SPSS in the vLab much easier.

Please watch this video on how to get files in and out of SPSS:

If you'd rather read the information in brief, click the drop-down box below.

Please watch the video below on where to save your files in SPSS in the vLab:

An Introduction to SPSS

The video below provides an introduction to SPSS. It shows how to navigate between Data View and Variable View, and how to modify properties of variables.

First-time users

When using SPSS you work across three file types, although most people will primarily use the first two:

  1. Data file is where all your variables and cases sit. You can enter many types of variables depending on your needs, such as numbers, dates, times and words.
  2. Output file. When you run an analysis, SPSS produces an output file. This is where you can see all the results from your analysis. The output file can be a large file to save so it is common practice to export the output as a pdf. We recommend saving the output as a pdf because you can open and read it on any computer, whether it has SPSS installed or not.
  3. Syntax file is used to write the analysis instructions for SPSS. When you run an analysis from the drop down menu e.g. descriptives, SPSS runs a pre-defined set of instructions. The syntax file is where you can manually build your own instructions for SPSS.

There is also a journal file (jnl file) that acts as a "journal" or history of sorts. This is a comprehensive file which is autogenerated and acts as like a browser history storing all your point and click movements as well as any syntax commands you have run. This is not a file type you will commonly use but can be helpful in certain contexts.

Important tips

  • Familiarise yourself. If you have minimal knowledge of the SPSS environment we recommend you spend some time becoming familiar with the platform. Having an understanding of the SPSS processing environment will assist you when the time comes to analyse your research data.
  • Check your connection. SPSS is a sophisticated program that requires a significant amount of memory to run. If you have a slow internet connection, SPSS will be slower to respond. For SPSS to run efficiently ensure you have a strong internet connection.
  • Read carefully the How to open and save files section that follows.


SPSS is a widely used tool by researchers across a wide variety of fields which means there are some great online resources that you can use to help you perform your data analysis. Some of these include:

  • SPSS Statistics Essential Training by Lynda.com. Monash students and staff can access this excellent SPSS statistics course using their university account. Lynda.com is a constantly growing library of more than 1400 courses and 82,000 videos in streaming video format. It offers training for all kinds of popular software products.
  • IBM SPSS Statistics Website. This provides a good overview of the SPSS program with access to IBM specific FAQs and support.
  • Statistics Solutions. A comprehensive website with a variety of videos and instructions as well as links to one-on-one tutoring and support.
  • SPSS Beginner Tutorials. A great website that takes you through the basics of SPSS.
  • Keith McCormick. He has posted lots of useful advice over the years. Some of it is at an intermediate level.
  • Raynald’s SPSS Tools. This SPSS-related blog that has been popular for decades.
  • Udemy. Udemy offers several SPSS classes for a variety of topics and at varying lengths and prices.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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