Reading a Multilevel Data File
A NIBRS data file from the FBI comprises multiple data segment levels. Examples of how to prepare an FBI datafile for use in both SPSS and SAS are presented below. The multiple level file is divided into data segments to create a large flat file. This flat file can be compared to an enormous spreadsheet. Each row represents one data segment record for an incident. Each column represents a data element (or variable); there is one column for each data element of each data segment. Since the elements (columns) are different for each of the data segments (rows), many cells in the flat file are empty. This applies to all data segment records for all incidents in the file. Therefore, this step is only for reading, not analyzing the data.