SOC 103M

Winter 2019


Computer Applications to Data Management in Sociology


TTh 2-3:20

SSB 101

Akos Rona-Tas

Office Hours:

Th 10:30-11:20

by appointment

488 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 a researcher who needs to marshal data gathered for a project, or as an 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 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.

We will also introduce a new tool Survey Analysis through Visual Exploration or SUAVE, that allows you to study relationships visually and with the help of zoom technology, investigate cases of special importance.

In the second part of the course you will turn to qualitative data and become acquainted with NVIVO 12, 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). SUAVE is web based. Although there is no expensive textbook for this course, I strongly recommend you get your own access to NVIVO. You can rent it for 24 months (for PC $99, for Mac $85). 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 6 months for about $35. (You will be fine with getting the Grad Pack basic package.) 

The door code for SSB 139 and SSB 140 is 0513216. You can find futher details here: .



There will be 10 assignments. The first nine each will be worth 7% and the final assignment 20% of your grade. The Midterm will be 12% and another 5% 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 A5

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 TritonEd, except for NVIVO files and folders that will stay in your personal directory.




January 8


What Is a Research Question?

Theory and Measurement

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Data

GSS 2016



Lecture notes#1


Levels of Measurement





January 10

(Class split between first SSB 101 and then the computer lab)

Introduction to SPSS

Preparing Data

The Data Editor: Data Entry

Transforming Data: Computing and Recoding, Composite Measures

Splitting Files and Selecting Cases


January 15

Assignment A1 due

Looking for Patterns

Describing One Variable

Frequency Distributions

Measures of Central Tendency

Measuring Variation

Visual Presentation: Bar and Pie Chart, Histogram

 Lecture notes#2

January 17

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  Scatterplot



January 22

Assignment A3 due

Causation and Causal Explanation

Visualization of Causal Explanation

Lecture slides explaining causation


January 24


Make sure you have a question. What do you want to explain? How will you measure it?

What are some of the possible explanations? Have at least three.

What is your dependent variable? What are your independent variables?

January 29

Assignment A4 due

Multi-causal explanations I

Logic of experimentation and multivariate analysis

Lecture slides explaining the basics of multivariate analysis

 January 31

Multiple regression

Lecture slides

February 5


February 7


February 12

Assignment A5 due

Quantitative Data Using SUAVE

Visualizing Distributions

Looking for Patterns and Exceptions

                                                                             SUAVE Handout

February 14

Explanations and Exceptions


February 19

Practicing with SUAVE



February 21

         Explanation and Qualitative Research

Introduction to NVIVO 10


Here is a video tutorial for NVIVO 10


February 26


Creating Documents

 Grabbing Documents from the Web

                                How to create a document in NVIVO 10


February 28

Coding Data I: Nodes and Attributes


Assignment B1 is due on March 1

                    Lecture notes on Coding

                    How to annotate and code in NVIVO 10

                    How to assign attributes and relationships in NVIVO 10

March 5

Shaping Data and Ordering Concepts

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


Assignment B2 is due

March 7

Models, Queries and Visualization

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

                                                                                    Assignment B3 is due

March 12

Building Theories

March 14


Multi-method research

Discussion and Review 

Assignment B4 is due




The final assingment is due 11:59 pm, March 21. If you turn your paper in before 8:00 am, March 19, I will give you a grade. If you don't like the grade you will have the opportunity to resubmit by the final deadline.