5.6.1 MLwiN background
Various software packages are available for multilevel analysis. Some are specialist packages for multilevel modelling such as MLwiN or HLM. More general statistical packages such as SPSS, SAS and STATA also allow some multilevel modelling to be carried out but the scope for model specification is currently more limited than that of MLwiN and HLM.
We will make use of MLwiN which was developed by the Centre for Multilevel Modelling at the University of Bristol. The software can also be obtained via: www.cmm.bristol.ac.uk
We will not explain in detail here how to get data from SPSS or excel into MLwiN but briefly a very useful way to get data from excel into MLwiN version 2 is to copy the entire excel spreadsheet and paste it into MLwiN having opened the MLwiN software by first choosing 'free columns' in MLwiN. This method also enables the researcher to specify that the first row of the data to be pasted is the name of each variable. It also has the advantage that it preserves any gaps in the original dataset and treats these as missing cases in MLwiN.
It is easy to save an SPSS dataset as excel by using 'save as' and also choosing the option to 'put variable names in first row'.