Statistics software - Mac OS or Windows?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by psych&theology, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. psych&theology macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2009
    Hi, Folks!

    I'm a Mac user and a graduate student in clinical psych, and I understand that the best stats software runs on Windows. Then I saw that SPSS 17 for Mac is out, and wondered if it was any good? (I understand that it is at least a whole lot better than SPSS 16 for Mac - though don't know if that's saying much!!)

    Here's what I'm trying to decide: Is it better to install Windows onto my Mac and get stats software for Windows, or will SPSS 17 for Mac work just fine? I will need to be able to use data that was originally formated for the Windows version of SPSS, and may need Windows users to be able to read what I've created on my Mac.

    I would probably need the SPSS add-ons to work as well, if I went with Mac OS, since I think that my dissertation will require some "fancy" modeling.

    It's important to note that this is a dissertation I'm talking about here - not just course work - so quality and accuracy are REALLY important. At the same time, I'm not really wanting to partition my hard drive and spend all that extra money if it wouldn't make a difference.


    :) Susie
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Well if you run Windows on your Mac it's the same as running windows on a windows-native machine. If you have no need for OS X you will definitely save money by just getting a cheap PC laptop (if I recall, SPSS isn't that intensive...).

    On another note- be sure to keep backups as you work on your thesis no matter what you end up doing.
  3. Ernst macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2009
    Was working on PC/Vista for my doctoral thesis (i'm a researcher-cardiologist); recently switched to mac because of stability issues on PC with large files,word,vista,....

    The switch from spss 16 on my PC to SPSS 17 for mac was seamless. Old syntaxes still run, no real compatibility isuues that i'm aware.
    Interface is somewhat different. The results viewer is slow. Interactive graphs are difficult and less easy to use than with 16 (but probably the same issue on 17 for PC).
    Files still perfectly interchangeable with windows users. In other words; i had no problems.
  4. psych&theology thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2009
    Actually ended up answering my own question...

    I took a closer look at what SPSS had to offer, and found that SPSS does not offer the structural equation modeling software for Mac, but that the SPSS 17 grad pack for Windows includes it with everything else all for $200.

    Plus, if I wanted to use some different software besides SPSS, like if SPSS wasn't doing what I needed, the Windows environment would offer the most options.

    Now the question is, which version of Windows, and should I go for Parallels or VMware Fusion? (I'm sure the later question is discussed somewhere in the forum.)


  5. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    The SEM functions in SPSS came from the Amos package, which is a Windows package (and I don't think ever translated to OS X). They leave something to be desired, to be honest, in comparison to LISREL, MPlus, and the like, even in Windows. LISREL has an OS X version but it's kind of clunky, and I think the others are not available in OS X at all. As much as I love OS X, I think that the fact that these stats packages are created by pretty small companies (aside from SPSS and SAS, but even in SPSS's case, some packages like the SEM functionality are basically just imported code from other software, like Amos, that is Windows-specific) makes dealing with statistics on OS X cumbersome. <R> is actually very nice on OS X

    As for the accuracy issue, however, that I wouldn't worry about. Either the software runs or it doesn't. With respect to using Parallels or VMWare, it doesn't really matter as far as the stats packages are concerned. They have each their pros and cons, and the issues with them don't relate closely to your experience of using stats software.

    Can I ask you a slightly different version of the question, though? Have you considered how badly you really need to invest in this software? When are you actually planning on doing the analysis segment of your dissertation? Stats software gets updated fairly quickly, and you're buying something that your school should pay for and you shouldn't usually worry about.

    I bought SPSS for OS X when I was ... hmm, I guess during my first year in grad school. I basically stopped using it. For my dissertation analyses and other recent stats work I've done, I just remote desktop to a Windows computer at the University and do the stats on there. In fact, I'm now in Chicago running my analyses for my dissertation (my dissertation doesn't actually have very sophisticated statistics in it, but that doesn't really matter one way or another) using a computer in Florida at my grad school remotely. I find it much less cumbersome to just let them worry about keeping the software running and up to date.
  6. acock macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2009
    statistics software for a Mac

    Stata is less expensive than SPSS, you get the entire package and don't have to buy a separate module for different capabilities, and Stata is vastly more powerful than SPSS. Stata was developed for PCs/Macs whereas the roots of SPSS is for the old mainframes. As a result the syntax for Stata is much simpler (Stata has menus like SPSS as well). For example
    OLS Regression
    regress income education gender
    logit vote income education gender
    MULTINOMIAL logistic regression
    mlogit religion income education gender
    POISSON regression
    poisson arrests education gender income

    Look up how to do Poisson regression in SPSS and you will get the point.
    Alan Acock

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