SOC 103M

Spring 2016


Computer Applications to Data Management in Sociology


T Th 9:30-10:50 or T Th 11:00-12:20

SSB 101

Akos Rona-Tas

Office Hours:

MW 10:30-11:20

by appointment

401 SSB



This course will introduce you to data management through a research project of your own. You will learn practical skills that you will be able to use widely, as a student who needs to manage information learned in class, as researcher who needs to marshal data gathered for a project, or as employee who needs to organize information for work tasks.

You will learn how to manage both quantitative and qualitative data. Accordingly, the course will be split into to two halves, each devoted to one kind of analysis and software. In the first part of the course you will be using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences or SPSS, a user friendly statistical package where all you need to do is to click on pull-down menus. You will learn how to input data in an analyzable, numeric form, then using a real data set representative of the United States, called the General Social Survey, you will have a chance to investigate real social issues. You will learn powerful ways of organizing, describing, depicting and exploring regularities in the data. While you will become familiar with basic statistical concepts, this is not a class in statistics. If you know how to add, subtract, multiply, divide, square and take a square-root with a calculator, you are properly prepared.


In the second part of the course you will turn to qualitative data and become acquainted with NVIVO 10, a software that helps you handle qualitative information from unstructured data. You will learn about organizing and linking documents, coding, searching, annotating texts, organizing codes and building theories.

There are no textbooks for the course, but if you are looking for useful books I recommend Adventures in Social Research, by Earl Babbie et al., and Qualitative Data Analysis with NVivo by Pat Bazeley and Kristi Jackson.

Both SPSS and NVIVO will be available in the Social Science Computing Facility (SSB 139). Although there is no expensive textbook for this course, I recommend you get your own access to NVIVO. You can rent it for the semester (for two PCs $80, for two Macs $60). You can also buy it, but that is more expensive. While having your own NVIVO is important, having your own SPSS software is more of a convenience. You can own two copies for 12 months for about $60. (You will be fine with getting the Grad Pack basic package. It does not matter if it is version 21 or 22.) 

The door code you will need for the computer lab is 0554380.

 There will be 9 assignments. Each will be worth 10% of your grade and another 10% will come from class participation.


The class has a Web site :


It has this syllabus, the assignments and, contains all the statistical material covered in the first part of the course.


Assignment A1

Assignment A2

Assignment A3

Assignment A4

Assignment B1

Assignment B2

Assignment B3

Assignment B4

Final Assignment


GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS for the assignments:


Please be sure to present your responses in an organized, clear, grammatically correct, paragraph format (i.e. no sentence fragments, bullets, etc.). Be sure to proof read, spell check, and make appropriate paragraph breaks when necessary. All homework must be handed in electronically via TED (TritonEd) including NVIVO files and folders that should be zipped and submitted as a single zip file.




March 29


What Is a Research Question?

Theory and Measurement

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Data

GSS 2010



Lecture notes#1


Levels of Measurement



March 31 and April 5 no classes


You must sign up to see me during class time or my office hours on April 4 or 6




April 7 (Class split between SSB 101 and computer lab)


Introduction to SPSS

Preparing Data

The Data Editor: Data Entry

Transforming Data: Computing and Recoding, Composite Measures

Splitting Files and Selecting Cases


April 12

Assignment A1 due

Looking for Patterns

Describing One Variable

Frequency Distributions

Measures of Central Tendency

Measuring Variation

Visual Presentation: Bar and Pie Chart, Histogram, Scatterplot


April 14

Assignment A2 due

Describing Relationships Between Variables

The Strength of the Relationship and the Significance of the Relationship


Cramer's V

Gamma an Ordinal Scale Measure of the Strength of the Relationship

Correlation Coefficient (Pearson's r) an Interval/Ratio Scale Measure of the Strength of the Relationship


For slides on  Central Tendency Measures, Measures of Variation and Measures of Relationship/Association click here


April 19

                                                                             Assignment A3 due

Causation and Causal Explanation

Visualization of Causal Explanation

Lecture slides explaining causation


April 21

Assignment A4 due

Multi-causal explanations

Multivariate Analysis

Lecture slides explaining the basics of multivariate analysis


April 26


Quantitative Data Using Visualization

Visualizing Distributions

Looking for Patterns and Exceptions


April 28


Explanations and Exceptions

  REMINDER:  Assignment B1 is not due until May 17 but it includes completing 6 more qualitative interviews and finding 6 more articles, so don't leave it to the last minute.

May 3

Working with Quantitative Data I

May 5

Working with Quantitative Data II



May 10

         Explanation and Qualitative Research

Introduction to NVIVO 10


Here is a video tutorial for NVIVO 10


May 12


Creating Documents

 Grabbing Documents from the Web

                                How to create a document in NVIVO 10


May 17

Coding Data I: Nodes and Attributes


Assignment B1 is due

                    How to annotate and code in NVIVO 10

                    How to assign attributes and relationships in NVIVO 10

May 19


Shaping Data and Ordering Concepts

                   What is a case and how to make cases in NVIVO 10

                                                                                 Assignment B2 is due


May 24

Models, Queries and Visualization


               How to build models, run searches and visualize results in NVIVO 10  

                                                                               Assignment B3 is due                                                                            

May 26

Building Theories


May 31

Assignment B4 is due


Multi-method research



June 2






Final Assignment is due at the time of the final exam and should be submitted via TED (TritonEd) through Turnitin.