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STB FAQ: Stata Technical Bulletin Frequently Asked Questions

Title   STB FAQ
Author Stata Technical Support
Date June 2001

The Stata Technical Bulletin (STB) has changed to the Stata Journal.

For ten years, the Stata Technical Bulletin served as a means of distributing new commands and Stata updates, both user-written and “official”. Although the last issue of the STB was published in June 2001, many of the articles of the STB continue to be of interest. The following FAQ was preserved to inform new Stata users about the nature of the STB.

0. Introduction
    0.1 What is the Stata Technical Bulletin?
    0.2 What is the purpose of the STB?
    0.3 Who is responsible for the STB?
    0.4 What is an insert number?
    0.5 Suggested citation guidelines
1. Printed journal publication information
    1.1 When is the STB published?
    1.2 How do I subscribe to the journal?
    1.3 How do I obtain past issues?
2. Accessing STB software
    2.1 Searching for relevant inserts across all issues
    2.2 Installing the software from www.stata.com
    2.3 www.stata.com mirror sites
    2.4 Installing the software from other Internet sources
3. STB history
    3.1 Past STB editors
    3.2 STB issues and Stata releases
4. Submission guidelines for authors
    4.1 Appropriate submissions
    4.2 Appropriate names for ado-files
    4.3 Submission physical format
    4.4 Submission contents
    4.5 STB copyright statement

0. Introduction

0.1 What is the Stata Technical Bulletin?

The Stata Technical Bulletin (STB, ISN 1097-8879), which you pay to subscribe to, is a printed journal containing articles related to Stata and software additions to Stata. An electronic version of the journal is also available.

In addition, accompanying each issue is software that can be installed into Stata. The software is available for free over the Internet, to both subscribers and nonsubscribers. For those without an Internet connection, media is available and can be ordered. Contact StataCorp for pricing information.

0.2 What is the purpose of the STB?

The STB exists to promote communication among Stata users of all disciplines and all levels of sophistication. The STB contains articles written by Stata users, StataCorp employees, and others.

In practice, the STB has become the vehicle by which new features are first added to Stata and distributed.

0.3 Who is responsible for the STB?

The Editor of the STB is

H. Joseph Newton
Department of Statistics
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas 77843
979-845-3132
979-845-3144 FAX
stb@stata.com

The Associate Editors of the STB are

Christopher Baum, Boston College
Nicholas J. Cox, Durham University
Joanne M. Garrett, University of North Carolina
Marcello Pagano, Harvard School of Public Health
J. Patrick Royston, UK Medical Research Council
Jeroen Weesie, Utrecht University

The STB is published by Stata Press, a division of StataCorp LP.

0.4 What is an insert number?

Articles in the STB are called inserts.

Each insert in the STB is assigned a letter-number code such as xyz42, xyz43, or xyz43.1.

A number such as xyz42 indicates that this article is number 42 in the xyz category.

A number such as xyz43.1 indicates that this article is an update of the original xyz43 article. The authors could be the same or different. The following category codes are used:

General categories:
an
cc
dm
dt
gr
in
announcements
communications & letters
data management
datasets
graphics
instruction
ip
os

qs
tt
zz
instruction on programming
operating system, hardware, &
interprogram communication
questions and suggestions
teaching
not elsewhere classified
Statistical categories:
sbe
sed
sg
smv
snp
sqc
sqv
srd
biostatistics & epidemiology
exploratory data analysis
general statistics
multivariate analysis
nonparametric methods
quality control
analysis of qualitative variables
robust methods & statistical diagnostics
ssa
ssi
sss
sts
svy
sxd
szz
survival analysis
simulation & random numbers
social science & psychometrics
time-series & econometrics
survey sampling
experimental design
not elsewhere classified

0.5 Suggested citation guidelines

The appropriate citation for an STB insert is

Author Name. Year. insert_number: Title. Stata Technical Bulletin issue_number: page_range.

For example,

Wright, E. and P. Royston. 1997. sbe15: Age-specific reference intervals for normally distributed data. Stata Technical Bulletin 38: 4-9.

If you found the same article in the STB Reprints, an appropriate citation would be

Wright, E. and P. Royston. 1998. sbe15: Age-specific reference intervals for normally distributed data. In The Stata Technical Bulletin Reprints, vol. 7, ed. H. J. Newton, 93-100. College Station, TX: StataCorp.


1. Printed journal publication information

1.1 When is the STB published?

Issues were published in January, March, May, July, September, and November of each year. Issues are numbered sequentially and are referred to as STB-1, STB-2, and so on. STB-49, for instance, refers to the May 1999 issue.

The STB began publication in May 1991 (referred to as STB-1).

In March of every year, a bound book was printed containing the previous year’s worth of issues, May through March. These books are referred to as the STB Reprints.

Please note that Volume 10 contains seven issues of the STB, because it is the last Reprints volume.

1.2 How do I subscribe to the journal?

Subscriptions to the STB are no longer available; instead, we suggest that you subscribe to the Stata Journal.

1.3 How do I obtain past issues?

The STB is no longer available for purchase. We recommend you check out the Stata Journal.

You can view PDFs of past STB issues.


2. Accessing STB software

Below we use Stata’s [R] search command to list all relevant entries for "meta analysis":

   . search meta analysis

   [R]     meta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Meta analysis

   STB-58  sbe19.3  . . . .  Tests for publication bias in meta-analysis: erratum
           (help metabias if installed) . . . . . . . . . . . . .  T. J. Steichen
           11/00
           correction to the help file

   STB-58  sbe39.1  Nonpar. trim & fill anal. of pub. bias in meta-anal.: erratum
           (help metatrim if installed) . . . . . . . . . . . . .  T. J. Steichen
           11/00
           correction to the help file

   STB-57  sbe19.2  . . . . Update of tests for publication bias in meta-analysis
           (help metabias if installed) . . . . . . . . . . . . .  T. J. Steichen
           9/00
           enhancements to the metabias command

   STB-57  sbe39   Nonpar. trim & fill anal. of publication bias in meta-analysis
           (help metatrim if installed) . . . . . . . . . . . . .  T. J. Steichen
           9/00
           implementation of the Duval and Tweedie nonparametric "trim
           and fill" method of accounting for publication bias in
           meta-analysis

   STB-56  sbe20.1  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Update of galbr
           (help galbr if installed)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A. Tobias
           7/00
           minor fix

   STB-56  sbe26.1  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Update of metainf
           (help metainf if installed)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A. Tobias
           7/00
           minor fix

   STB-56  sbe28.1  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Update of metap
           (help metap if installed)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A. Tobias
           7/00
           minor fix

   STB-49  sbe28  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Meta-analysis of p-values
           (help metap if installed)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A. Tobias
           5/99    STB Reprints Vol 9, pages 138—140
           combines p-values using either Fisher's method or Edgington's method

   STB-47  sbe26  . .  Assessing the influence of a single study in meta-analysis
           (help metainf, meta if installed)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . A. Tobias
           1/99    STB Reprints Vol 8, pages 108—110
           graphical technique to look for influential studies in the
           meta-analysis estimate

   STB-45  sbe24.1  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Correction to funnel plot
           (help funnel if installed) . . .  M. Bradburn, J. Deeks, and D. Altman
           9/98    STB Reprints Vol 8, page 100

   STB-44  sbe24  . . . . . . . . . metan — an alternative meta-analysis command
           (help metan if installed)  . . . . . . . . . Bradburn, Deeks, & Altman
           7/98    STB Reprints Vol 8, pages 86—100
           meta-analysis command for studies with two groups

   STB-44  sbe19.1  . . . . . . . . . Tests for publication bias in meta-analysis
           (help metabias, ktau2 if installed)  . . . . Steichen, Egger, & Sterne
           7/98    STB Reprints Vol 8, pages 84—85
           four improvements to metabias program

   STB-43  sbe16.2  . . . . . . . . . .  Corrections to the meta-analysis command
           (help meta if installed) . . . . . . . . . . .  S. Sharp and J. Sterne
           5/98    STB Reprints Vol 8, page 84
           corrects a few minor bugs in meta command

   STB-42  sbe23  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Meta-analysis regression
           (help metareg if installed)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  S. Sharp
           3/98    STB Reprints Vol 7, pages 148—155
           extends a random effects meta-analysis to estimate the extent
           to which one or more covariates, with values defined for each
           study in the analysis, explain heterogeneity in the treatment
           effects

   STB-42  sbe22  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Cumulative meta analysis
           (help metacum if installed)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J. Sterne
           3/94    STB Reprints Vol 7, pages 143—147
           performs cumulative meta-analysis, using fixed or random-effects
           models, and, optionally, graphs the results

   STB-42  sbe16.1  . . . . . New syntax and output for the meta-analysis command
           (help meta if installed) . . . . . . . . . . .  S. Sharp and J. Sterne
           3/98    STB Reprints Vol 7, pages 106—108

   STB-41  sbe20  .  Assessing heterogeneity in meta-analysis: the Galbraith plot
           (help galbr if installed)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A. Tobias
           1/98    STB Reprints Vol 7, pages 133—136
           performs the Galbraith plot (1988) which is useful for
           investigating heterogeneity in meta-analysis

   STB-41  sbe19  . . . . . . . . . . Tests for publication bias in meta-analysis
           (help metabias if installed) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . T. Steichen
           1/98    STB Reprints Vol 7, pages 125—133
           performs the Begg and Mezumdar (1994) adjusted rank correlation
           test for publication bias and performs the Egger et al. (1997)
           regression asymmetry test for publication bias

   STB-38  sbe16  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Meta-analysis
           (help meta if installed) . . . . . . . . . . .  S. Sharp and J. Sterne
           7/97    STB Reprints Vol 7, pages 100—106
           meta analysis for an outcome of two exposure groups or two
           treatment regimens

The list you see when you type search meta analysis will be up-to-date if you have installed the latest official updates.

If a listed entry begins with the letters STB, then it was published in the STB. For instance, the last listed item—sbe16—can be found in STB-38 and also in STB Reprints volume 7.

If a listed entry says “help XXX if installed”, then there is software associated with that entry. All of the above listed entries have software associated with them, but that is not always the case:

   . search quantile regression

   [R]     qreg . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Quantile (including median) regression
           (help qreg)

   STB-13  sg11.2 . . . . . .  Calculation of quantile regression standard errors
           . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . W. H. Rogers
           5/93    STB Reprints Vol 3, pages 77—78
           more detailed description of the Koenker and
           Bassett method for calculating qreg standard
           errors

   STB-9   sg11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Quantile regression standard errors
           . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . W. H. Rogers
           9/92    STB Reprints Vol 2, pages 133—137
           argument presented that the formula-based Koenker and
           Bassett standard errors used by qreg are not satisfactory
           when heteroscedasticity of the residuals is suspected and
           suggests the substitution of bootstrap standard errors

None of the above STB inserts have software associated with them.

In any case, in our previous request, search suggested STB insert sbe16 of STB-38 and said “help meta if installed”. In all probability, meta is not installed:

. help meta
help for meta not found
try help contents or search meta

2.2 Installing the software from www.stata.com

If you wished to install insert sbe16 of STB-38 from inside Stata, you could use the [R] net command:

    . net from http://www.stata.com
    . net cd stb
    . net cd stb38
    . net describe sbe16
    . net install sbe16

or you could

  1. Select Help > SJ and User-written Programs.
  2. Click on STB.
  3. Click on stb38.
  4. Click on sbe16.
  5. Click on click here to install.

See [U] 28.4 Downloading and managing additions by users , [U] 28.4.1 Installing software from STB, and [U] 28 Using the Internet to keep up to date.

2.3 www.stata.com mirror sites

There are other sites around the world equivalent to www.stata.com; they may provide faster download times given your location. The mirror sites, however, may lag the www.stata.com site by a week or so.

To go to a mirror site, either

  1. Select Help > SJ and User-written Programs.
  2. Click on http://www.stata.com.
  3. Click on stb.
  4. Click on one of the mirror sites listed at the top.

or type

    . net from http://www.stata.com
    . net cd stb
    . net link mirror_site_name

2.4 Installing the software from other Internet sources

The STB software is also available from other Internet sources in a downloadable format. This will interest you if your Stata is not connected to the Internet, but you have access to the Internet through a browser on that or another computer.

Do not seek other Internet sources simply in hopes of finding a faster connection. The easiest way to install the STB software is to obtain the software from www.stata.com using Stata's built-in Internet capabilities; see above.

The following site maintains the STB software in an alternate format:

Carnegie Mellon University, USA

This site provides one ZIP file per STB, but the installation from the zip files is complicated because the zip files contain different things:

  1. Point your browser at the site and enter the STB directory.
  2. Download by clicking the ZIP file of interest. The ZIP files have names such as stb01.zip, stb02.zip, and so on. If you use FTP software other than a web browser, remember to download in BINARY mode.
  3. Unzip the files into an empty temporary directory. If doing this by command, remember to specify pkunzip's -d option to preserve the directory structure.
  4. Now, examine the files in the temporary directory.
    • If you see a directory named crc, it is OLD format.
    • If you see a directory named stata, it is OLD format.
    • If you see a file named stata.toc, it is NEW format.
  5. If the contents are NEW format, either
    • Select Help > SJ and User-written Programs.
    • Select other sites ..., and then type the name of the temporary directory into which you unzipped the zip file. Click OK.
    • You will then be looking at the contents of that particular STB, and it will be clear what to do. Click on any insert that interests you. You can then click to install that insert if you wish.
    or
    • Type net from followed by the name of the temporary directory into which you unzipped the zip file.
    • Type net describe followed by the insert number of interest.
    • Type net install followed by the insert number you wish to install.
  6. If the contents are OLD format, the subdirectories of the temporary directory each contain an STB insert. You can copy all the files from a subdirectory to your PERSONAL ado directory. To find the location of your PERSONAL ado directory, in Stata type [P] sysdir.

3. STB history

3.1 Past STB editors

The STB has been in continuous publication since May 1991. The editors are

1. Joseph Hilbe, Arizona State University
May 1991 through March 1993 (STB-1 through STB-12)
 
2. Sean Becketti
May 1993 through March 1996 (STB-13 through STB-30)
 
3. H. Joseph Newton, Texas A&M University
May 1996 through May 2001 (STB-31 through STB-61)

3.2 STB issues and Stata releases

STB-1 through STB-3, May 1991 through September 1991
Stata 2.0
 
STB-4 through STB-6, November 1991 through March 1992
Stata 2.05
 
STB-7 through STB-14, May 1992 through July 1993
Stata 2.1
 
STB-15 through STB-23, September 1993 through January 1995
Stata 3.0
 
STB-24 through STB-33, March 1995 through September 1996
Stata 4.0
 
STB-34 through STB-47, November 1996 through January 1999
Stata 5.0
 
STB-48 through STB-59, March 1999 through January 2001
Stata 6.0
 
STB-60 through STB-61, March 2001 through May 2001
Stata Journal vol. 1 no. 1 through current, Oct-Dec 2001 through today
Stata 7.0

4. Submission guidelines for authors

4.1 Appropriate submissions

Appropriate submissions include articles on new Stata commands (ado-files), programming tutorials, illustrations of data-analysis techniques, reports on other programs, announcements, questions, and suggestions.

4.2 Appropriate names for ado-files

Very active Stata programmers, especially those who exchange ado-files with others, worry about choosing unique names for their commands.

Say you write a new command called reghpb, and somebody else on the other side of the world also writes a new command of that name. Mostly when that occurs it does not matter because the two new commands never meet on the same computer. If both programmers make their commands available to others, however, someone could want both. If both commands have the same name, that will not be possible.

Thus use the following rules to name user-submitted ado-files:

  1. You may not use a name for ado-files that is already in use.
  2. You may not use a name that appears in the English-language dictionary.
  3. You may not use a name that is less than 4 characters long.
  4. You may not register a name that is a word of statistical jargon that is in common use.

Generally, really nice names should be reserved for really nice commands that are used by a large fraction of the Stata community.

This thinking is coupled with the argument that any command that fits the above definition is or will become part of Stata as it is distributed by StataCorp.

Programmers other than StataCorp programmers can write really nice commands, but such commands get really nice names only after being published in the STB or otherwise distributed under not-so-nice names and then being adopted for inclusion into Stata, at which point they will be renamed. At that point, such programmers will also get a really nice reference in the manual.

There is nothing wrong with giving your programs names shorter than 4 characters, but you may not submit such programs to the STB. Such names are reserved for private use and, on rare occasion, for really common commands (think of d for describe).

4.3 Submission physical format

Submissions to the STB are usually made as a group of files that are submitted on media or via email.

Mailed submissions are to be mailed to

STB Editor
StataCorp LP
4905 Lakeway Drive
College Station, TX 77845
USA

Emailed submissions are to be sent to stb@stata.com.

The easy way to submit an insert to the STB is first to create a single “archive file” (zip file or a compressed tar file) containing all the files associated with the submission. Then email the archive file to the editor by sending it as an attachment.

For Unix users, we recommend

  1. Creating a directory containing the files you want to send.
  2. Changing to the directory.
  3. Typing
    % tar -cf - . | compress | uuencode anyname.tar.Z > ../mysub.tomail
    % mail stb@stata.com < ../mysub.tomail

4.4 Submission contents

A submission should include

  1. readme.txt: A plain ASCII file for the editor to read. Make any comments you want, but be sure to include your name, affiliation, and email address.
  2. anyname.tex or anyname: This file should contain the text of STB insert. The STB is produced using plain TeX, so submissions using TeX or LATeX are easier for the editor to handle, but any word processor is fine. If you do not use TeX and your insert contains a significant amount of mathematics, fax a copy of the insert to 979-845-3144 so the editor can see the intended appearance of the text.
  3. *.gph: If your insert includes the display of any Stata Graphs, please include the Stata .gph files separately. Do not add titles to your graphs, as we will have to remove them.
  4. *.ado and *.hlp files: Include any ado-files and corresponding help files that accompany your submission. See the help files for any recent STB insert with software for the structure of the help file. If you have questions, fill in as much as you can, and we will take care of the details.
  5. anyname.do and *.dta: Include a do-file that replicates the examples in your text. Also include the datasets used in the example. This allows us to verify that the software works as described.

By submitting to the STB, you are indicating your agreement to the following copyright statement, which is printed in each issue of the STB: Submissions to the STB, including submissions to the supporting files (programs, datasets, and help files), are on a nonexclusive, free-user basis. In particular, the author grants to StataCorp the nonexclusive right to copyright and distribute the material in accordance with the Copyright Statement below. The author also grants to StataCorp the right to freely use the ideas, including communication of the ideas to other parties, even if the material is never published in the STB. Submissions should be addressed to the Editor. Submission guidelines can be obtained from either the editor or StataCorp.

Copyright Statement. The Stata Technical Bulletin (STB) and the contents of the supporting files (programs, datasets, and help files) are copyright (c) by StataCorp LP. The contents of the supporting files (programs, datasets, and help files), may be copied or reproduced by any means whatsoever, in whole or in part, as long as any copy or reproduction includes attribution to both (1) the author and (2) the STB.

The insertions appearing in the STB may be copied or reproduced as printed copies, in whole or in part, as long as any copy or reproduction includes attribution to both (1) the author and (2) the STB. Written permission must be obtained from StataCorp if you wish to make electronic copies of the insertions.

Users of any of the software, ideas, data, or other materials published in the STB or the supporting files understand that such use is made without warranty of any kind, either by the STB, the author, or StataCorp. In particular, there is no warranty of fitness of purpose or merchantability, nor for special, incidental, or consequential damages such as loss of profits. The purpose of the STB is to promote free communication among Stata users.

The Stata Technical Bulletin (ISSN 1097-8879) is a publication of Stata Press, and Stata is a registered trademark of StataCorp LP.

(last revised 26 June 2001)

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