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RE: st: RE: Finding Stata commands


From   Nick Cox <n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk>
To   "'statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu'" <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   RE: st: RE: Finding Stata commands
Date   Mon, 4 Oct 2010 13:36:06 +0100

Your message has lost its opening, but to be frank this looks, more or less, the same question as before. 

I do think you're right to be puzzled. 

Kit's comment on -psmatch2- I think in effect presumes that people have been following discussions on how to do propensity score matching in Stata for a while. 

That leaves open your reasonable question of how do learners find this out quickly. 

As Neil Shepherd and I have already stated, there isn't really such a method, although nothing stops people posting Statalist questions straight out on "What is the best way to do X?" -- and nothing guarantees that they get good answers (although really bad suggestions tend to attract disagreement). 

A long while ago, according to legend, Euclid is said to have replied to King Ptolemy's request for an easier way of learning mathematics that there was no royal road to geometry. For "geometry" read "Stata". 

Nick 
n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk 

Tim

out why. So here's a summary.
Monitoring Statalist is great for learning what is available (both in 
terms of techniques and in Stata commands). But this is a very active 
list and I only read posts where the title relates to something I am 
working on. I would search the archives if I were trying a new type of 
analysis. But I would not have searched for -psmatch2- and I dispute 
that "most users" would have.

I don't expect Stata or Statalist to give me the best analysis for my 
problem. But if I decide I want to do (for example) propensity 
weighting, I would hope -findit-  would give appropriate results. And I 
still wonder why I have never heard of -psmatch2- when (according to 
Statalist) most Stata users interested in propensity matching would look 
for -psmatch2-.

On 4/10/2010 21:57, Nick Cox wrote:

> As Tim implies, there is an easy and a difficult side to this.
>
> -findit- remains the best single way of finding Stata commands.
>
> . findit propensity score
>
> does point to -psmatch2-, among other materials.
>
> However, this process is dependent on official Stata commands and user-written packages being documented properly, notably by people having previously thought of the keywords you want to type. Sometimes, as in this example, they are fairly obvious, but not always.
>
> Anyone who wants to know what is "best" can only expect only limited help.
>
> 1. StataCorp feels free to say which official Stata commands are best for a given purpose (often by downgrading outdated commands in terms of documentation support). They won't grade or evaluate user-written commands, other than by adopting them (which these days is rare).
>
> 2. User-programmers should feel free to say which of their own commands are best for a given purpose.
>
> 3. You can otherwise best get a sense of what is "best" by following Statalist and listening to what people say -- or do not say. Look for programs that are well supported, well documented and well maintained. Sometimes, a programmer did a good job some years ago and there is no need to update, but often an old, unsupported program may be suspect.
>
> Nick
> n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk
>
> Tim
>
> I have never used propensity score matching but I considered it recently
> and did some reading in the area, and this post attracted my attention.
> I have not been following this discussion, but I happened to notice the
> claim that "most users these days would look for -psmatch2-".
>
> So my question: why would most users look for -psmatch2-?
> Why would anyone look for that name if they did not already know it?
>
> I typed -findit propensity score- and got a lot of results that look
> useful. The first few mention -gpscore- (I have not followed links to
> know if this is relevant) and  -pscore- is mentioned near the end.
>
> In scanning the search results I saw no mention of -psmatch2-. Yet "most
> users...would look for psmatch2".
>
> When I think about it, I realise all the Stata commands I use are those
> that were mentioned in my training.
> If I seriously wanted to do propensity score matching in Stata, how
> would I find the correct command?
> (and how do I know that -psmatch2- is the correct command?)
> More generally, how do I find the best command for an analysis I am
> considering but have never used?
>

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