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Created by SAS, JMP software is designed for exploratory data analysis and visualization. Rather than the usual task of confirming a hypothesis, JMP assists users in investigating data to discover the unexpected. JMP is most often used for designed experiments and analyzing statistical data from industrial processes.
SAS is a complex and powerful software package and is considered one of the most difficult to learn. Using SAS involves writing SAS programs that manipulate your data and perform data analyses. One of the big advantages of SAS is that it can work with many data files at once and can handle enormous data files (over 30,000 variables). Like its cohort JMP, SAS has a very powerful graphic tool.
SPSS is good for beginners as it is very easy to use. SPSS works best for editing one data file at a time and there is no limit to the number of variables or cases allowed in SPSS data files. SPSS works very well for analysis of variance and multivariate analysis. Creating graphs in SPSS is very easy and they can be extensively customized.
Stata is thought of by many as the best of both worlds because it is both easy to learn and very powerful. Stata uses one line commands which can be entered one command at a time or many at a time in a Stata program. Stata primarily works with one data file at a time so working with multiple files at once can be tricky. Like SAS and SPSS, Stata can work with large numbers of variables (over 32,000). Stata is considered to be the best program for regression and survey data analysis. Creating high-quality graphs in Stata is also very easy.
SUDAAN is used for the analysis of data from complex studies that involve correlated (or clustered) data. Unlike most other programs, SUDAAN assists in computing standard errors of ratio estimates, means, totals, regression coefficients, and other statistics, which can increase the accuracy and validity of results.
NVivo provides a user-friendly interface and extensive data storage, search, and retrieval capacity. It provides a powerful relational database that assists in theorizing about relationships within data and mapping those relationships. NVivo's memos function allows you to record your thoughts and processes alongside instead of within the data analysis. NVivo is a complex program so it generally takes more time to learn than some others but may be better for detailed analysis.
ATLAS.ti is designed to assist with the management of textual, graphical, audio, and video data. The program allows basic coding and retrieval of data at the text level and it also allows more sophisticated analysis activities at the conceptual level, such as linking codes to form semantic networks and algorithms. ATLAS.ti also supports the quantitative analysis of qualitative data with its SPSS export function, which treats codes as variables and quotations as cases. It is considered to be less structured than NVivo but easier to learn for basic operations
Ethnograph was one of the first programs to pioneer computer assisted qualitative data analysis. It can directly import text-based qualitative data from any word processing program as well as search and note segments of interest within data, mark them with code words, and run analyses. Ethnograph works with data files such as interview transcripts, field notes, open-ended survey responses, or other text based documents.
MAXqda has an intuitive interface with many quick-access buttons that help to simplify the coding and analysis process. The program only handles files in rich text format, but it can also handle graphics. Because it supports and facilitates the development of a hierarchical code system (first-level coding is also supported), MAXqda is useful for grounded theory analysis. The program also has a unique code-weighting facility useful for indicating the degree to which a code is relevant.