Alan C. Acock’s A Gentle Introduction to Stata, Revised Third
Edition is aimed at new Stata users who want to become proficient in
Stata. After reading this introductory text, new users not only will be able
to use Stata well but also will learn new aspects of Stata easily.
Acock assumes that the user is not familiar with any statistical software.
This assumption of a blank slate is central to the structure and contents of
the book. Acock starts with the basics; for example, the portion of the book
that deals with data management begins with a careful and detailed example
of turning survey data on paper into a Stata-ready dataset on the computer.
When explaining how to go about basic exploratory statistical procedures,
Acock includes notes that will help the reader develop good work habits.
This mixture of explaining good Stata habits and good statistical habits
continues throughout the book.
Acock is quite careful to teach the reader all aspects of using Stata. He
covers data management, good work habits (including the use of basic
do-files), basic exploratory statistics (including graphical displays), and
analyses using the standard array of basic statistical tools (correlation,
linear and logistic regression, and parametric and nonparametric tests of
location and dispersion). Acock teaches Stata commands by using the menus
and dialog boxes while still stressing the value of do-files. In this way,
he ensures that all types of users can build good work habits. Each chapter
has exercises the motivated reader can use to reinforce the material.
The tone of the book is friendly and conversational without ever being glib
or condescending. Important asides and notes about terminology are set off
in boxes, which makes the text easy to read without any convoluted twists or
forward-referencing. Rather than splitting topics by their Stata
implementation, Acock arranges the topics as they would appear in a
basic statistics textbook; graphics and postestimation are woven into the
material in a natural fashion. Real datasets, such as the General Social
Surveys from 2002 and 2006, are used throughout the book.
The focus of the book is especially helpful for those in psychology and the
social sciences because the presentation of basic statistical modeling is
supplemented with discussions of effect sizes and standardized coefficients.
Various selection criteria, such as semipartial correlations, are discussed
for model selection.
The revised third edition of the book has been updated to reflect the new
features available in Stata 12 and Stata 11. The ANOVA chapter has been
revised to incorporate the pwmeans command, to do mean comparisons,
and the marginsplot command, which simplifies the construction of
graphs showing interaction effects. Menus and screenshots have also been
updated. As in the third edition, an entire chapter is devoted to the
analysis of missing data and the use of multiple-imputation methods.
Factor-variable notation is introduced as an alternative to the manual
creation of interaction terms. The new Variables Manager and revamped
Data Editor are featured in the discussion of data management.
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