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Re: st: To STATA experts - BOOK

From   Joseph Trubisz <>
Subject   Re: st: To STATA experts - BOOK
Date   Thu, 13 Sep 2007 06:30:00 -0700

As a computer scientist with 39-years experience, the last 5 finishing a PhD, I
have quite a bit of exposure to 'technical manuals'.

I was not exposed to Stata prior to my PhD experience. Hence, I was at the mercy
of either the lecturer or the books. In all my years, I have never seen a set of books
without an index or page numbers. And, I mean an index like "<topic> on page X",
not just point to a book. I find this quite annoying, especially if you are a newbie. 

Secondly, having worked for a number of software firms over the years, one of the
'proofs' that the documentation is in fact working is the questions that are being asked
on the customer or helpdesk sites. While many on the stata site are truly statistical
in nature, many of them are quite easily answered if you either have had the problem
before or are so experienced in the product that you just 'know' the answer. In short,
while it is true that people do NOT read manuals, perhaps it's the fault of the docs
which cause many of the problems (see above comment).

I do like Beginning Stata Programming For Dummies and a Gentle Introduction to
Stata, but like most books like that, they are too simplistic for actual use, outside of
the ability to provide exposure to the most rudimentary operations using a product.
If you need to do something more 'real', then they do fall short. That being said, I
still find both quite informative, especially in showing the 'how-to' do something. Some
people, like myself, do learn better 'by-example'.

A "For Dummies" book might be good, but I think that just a general improvement in
Stata documentation would be significantly better. Perhaps Stata writers should look
at any set of IBM technical docs to see what I mean.

Only my 2-cents (prior to inflation).


On Thursday, September 13, 2007, at 02:29AM, "Ulrich Kohler" <> wrote:
>> Dear Stata experts,
>> Why donīt you write down a book "Stata for dummies"?
>> Current available books on Stata are insufficient for non-statisticians
>> researchers. Most examples on Stata programming are ridiculous.
>> Furthermore, there is no book commenting on common errors and problems
>> when running analyses with Stata. You could use the Statalist to summarize
>> the 100 most common problems/errors in Stata, put them together,
>> illustrate with nice examples and drawings, add things you think are
>> important and, finnaly, a "Stata for dummies" shows up.
>> Then, you could come out with "Beginning Stata Programming For Dummies"
>> and, eventually, "Stata - All-in-One Desk Reference for Dummies" or
>> something like that.
>As author of the book "Data Analysis Using Stata" I would be interested
>in which sense you think that the book is insufficient (or even
>ridiculous) for non-statisticans researchers. "Data Analysis Using
>Stata" is written for students without statistical knowledge, and
>without knowledge of a statistical software package. It tries to teach
>data analysis by showing how to analyze data with Stata. If there are
>serious shortcomings in the approach of the book I would be curious to
>hear about them, so that the book can be improved in future releases.
>Many regards
>030 25491-361
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