It’s not informative that “a respondent has 0 on v1” unless you know what v1 and 0 refer to. Such information – what the data actually represent – is collectively know as the dictionary.
SPSS Dictionary – What is it?
- The SPSS Dictionary is a part of an SPSS data file that holds all metadata. Literally, metadata is “data about the data”.
- Metadata describes the real-world meaning of values, variables and files. The best known properties of the SPSS dictionary are probably variable labels and value labels.
- Don’t overlook the importance of such information. In many cases, data are worthless in the absence of correct metadata.
- The dictionary also holds more technical information on variables such as variable types and formats.
SPSS Dictionary Commands
- Some commands refer directly to SPSS’ dictionary. An important one is
DISPLAY DICTIONARY.which is extensively used by Create Dictionary Dataset.
- Another example is
APPLY DICTIONARY– which is basically what SPSS Clone Variables Tool does.
- Commands for modifying variable properties also apply to the SPSS dictionary (instead of the actual data). For a handy overview, see our SPSS Dictionary Tutorials.
SPSS Dictionary – Complete Overview
Note: we tried to sort these properties from most to least important. “Optional” indicates whether a property can (technically) be absent.
|variable name||Variable||Variable identifier.||High||No|
|Label||Variable||Normal language description of the meaning of variables.||High||Yes|
|Value Labels||Value||Normal language description of the meaning of values.||High||Yes|
|User Missing Values||Value||Tells SPSS which values to ignore in calculations.||High||Yes|
|Type||Variable||Tells SPSS how to store values internally.||High||No|
|Format||Variable||Tells SPSS how to display numeric values.||High||No|
|Document||Data file||Long data file description.||Low||Yes|
|Width||Variable||Maximum number of characters that values may consist of.||Low||No|
|Columns||Variable||Variable’s column width (as displayed on screen).||Low||No|
|Variable Attribute||Variable||Descriptive tags for variables.||Low||Yes|
|Datafile attribute||Data file||Data file description using arrays.||Low||Yes|
|File label||Data file||Short data file description.||Low||Yes|
|Align||Variable||Alignment of data values (on screen).||Low||No|
|Measure||Variable||Measurement level nominal, ordinal or scale (= metric).||Low||No|
|Role||Variable||The variable’s supposed relation to other variables.||Low||No|