[R] read.spss Error reading system-file header

Thomas Lumley tlumley at u.washington.edu
Wed Nov 5 02:27:36 CET 2003

On Tue, 4 Nov 2003, Jacob Wegelin wrote:

> Is there any documentation on what kind of SPSS file can and cannot be
> read by read.spss?  Alternatively, how can one modify or "clean" an SPSS
> file to make it readable by read.spss?  What properties must a *.sav file
> before read.spss can read it?

I don't think this is known.  The read.spss code is taken from code in
PSPP, which was going to be a GNU implementation of SPSS.  Judging from
some of the comments in the code, at least part of the format was worked
out from files, not documented.

I haven't run across any problems in using it to read SPSS .sav files, but
most of the ones I have tried were created by the same people and don't
represent independent confirmations.


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