Defining and copying variable attributes (metadata)

In addition to the basic data type (numeric, string, date, and so forth), you can assign other attributes that describe the variables and their associated values. In a sense, these properties can be considered metadata--data that describe the data. These attributes are automatically saved with the data when you save the data in IBM® SPSS® Statistics data files.

These metadata properties include:

  • Descriptive variable and value labels
  • Missing value categories (for example, refused to answer, not applicable, etc.)
  • Measurement level (for example, nominal, ordinal, or continuous).

Numerous tools are available to help you define and re-use metadata attributes:

  • Variable View provides a simple interface for assigning variable labels, value labels, missing value categories, measure level, and other variable attributes.
  • Define Variable Properties is designed to assist you in the process of assigning attributes to variables, including creating descriptive value labels for categorical (nominal, ordinal) variables and identifying the proper measurement level.
  • The Copy Data Properties Wizard provides the ability to use an external IBM SPSS Statistics data file as a template for defining file and variable properties in the active dataset. This is particularly useful if you work with external data sources that have the same format or similar formats (for example, a monthly spreadsheet or database report).