[Rd] importing explicitly declared missing values in read.spss (foreign)

Jeroen Ooms j.c.l.ooms at uu.nl
Mon Aug 4 13:01:44 CEST 2008

Prof Brian Ripley wrote:
>>From the messages you get I do not believe this is a recent version of
read.spss (message 2 no longer appears)... 

I am sorry you are right here, I was using an outdated version of foreign. I
have updated my packages. My current version is now R version 2.7.1
(2008-06-23) with foreign_0.8-28.

I have experimented importing some spss datafiles, mostly from the sample
data files that are included with SPSS. Most of these files do not generate
any warnings, so I am not sure this is related to the missingness. However,
the problem of read.spss() not returning any information on missingness
persists in all of these datafiles.

Prof Brian Ripley wrote:
> All that is 'harmfull' is that you are not told that value labels NA and
> NAP were to be regarded as 'missing' in SPSS.  We've no idea whether if
> would be a more or less egregious choice to map them to R's NA, and
> certainly are not in a position to assert 'far less harmfull' in general.

Of course the 'least harmfull' behavior of the function completely depends
on the data and the user's intentions. I was explicitly suggesting making
the mapping of missing values to <NA>'s optional, to give users who consider
this appropriate, the option to replace these missings. I do not claim this
to be the best default behavior, just a very useful feature.

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