As a part of my thesis, I collect data from students and I combine their data in a single Excel sheet.

The experiment consists of 200 trials. Every trial gives me three numbers:

  • The answer is correct (1) or incorrect (0)
  • Participants' rating of their confidence in a 5-point scale
  • Reaction time

However, Excel has some weaknesses.

  1. I cannot write three numbers in one cell
  2. Excel doesn't warn me when I mistakenly change or delete data
  3. The formulas become too complex as I just want "average correct answers when confidence is 4 or 5 and Reaction Time is less than 2 seconds"
  4. There are too many rows columns

Below you can see an example how I try to handle my data: (notice the dots, in my original file there are hundreds of rows and columns)


So, I was wondering if there are some other good software (for mac os, if possible) for storing data. Or, do most experimental psychologists store their data in Excel, too?

Edit. I am aware of the existance of other stack exchange sites. You can vote to close if you think this problem is off-topic, but please don't post unfriendly comments.

I thought this problem relates to academia more than other "computer science, programming" stack exchange sites because most psychologists in academia encounters this problem, but they handle it very "manually" because they don't have a programming background. I thought there are some user-friendly software for social scientists.

Thanks for your valuable answers.

  • 5
    This question does not seem to be well-suited for academia as the problems you encounter are not related to it. It is probably a good question for Software Recommendations, but before you ask there you should more clearly specify what you need to do with the software, e.g., do you want to perform any automatised analysis? In respect to the latter, it may also be relevant what your programming skills are or how much time and enthusiasm you have to learn some.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 14, 2018 at 9:33
  • 2
    For example, I would write a program to enter/record the experimental data, store it using nested dictionaries, list, arrays, etc. or lots of plain-text files. Depending on the size of the endeavour, I might consider learning some database format and use this. Either way, I have the data in a handy format to run all sorts of analyses afterwards. At the end of the day, Excel only exists for people who do not want to learn programming for some reason.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 14, 2018 at 9:39
  • SAS or JMP : SAS is fantastically powerful (but a LOT to learn) JMP is here : jmp.com/en_gb/software.html
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 14, 2018 at 9:45
  • 2
    What Wrzlprmft said: if you can, learn some programming and ditch Excel. Then you can store your data in a simple CSV file or in a database. It's a lot less error-prone. Jan 14, 2018 at 9:47
  • 2
    Noting the academic dimension: When I encountered a similar problem in the past, one of the core facilities of our institute would immediately offer to hire an external programmer so that I could focus on the science.
    – tsttst
    Jan 14, 2018 at 22:11

1 Answer 1


This answer is assuming you are either interested in or already experienced in entry-level programming.

For the programming language Python, a data structure package called Pandas exists. To use it, you can utilize basic python syntax which is not that hard to learn.

There is also extensive documentation and online help on SE forums available. When coming from Excel, you might want to check out this tutorial.

Disclaimer: I have not used it to a great extent, since I did not have any applications for it, but a coworker of mine uses it on a regular basis, and has grown very fond of it despite not having any previous programming experience.

  • I'm glad to hear that! An advantage of using Python is that it offers a wide range of tools for evaluation and graphical representation of data as well. Jan 14, 2018 at 13:53

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