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Re: st: Intro social science stats book

From   David Airey <>
Subject   Re: st: Intro social science stats book
Date   Mon, 3 Jul 2006 22:26:33 -0500


I rarely see the same texts get used in intro stats course on Vanderbilt's campus. I guess that's why everyone thinks they can write one (and do so!).

Vanderbilt is all over the map in terms of software promotion. In Psychology, SAS got a note by Tomarken, the new Chair, in a recent talk on test multiplicity. In Peabody Quantitative Psychology, R shows up on their web pages. In our Medical Center, Dr. Harrell pushes R pretty hard, but acknowledges Stata as "next best".

However, that's just Frank's opinion, and I think he's got his order a little mixed up! To teach introductory statistics, he lets Stata be used, not R. I think that is telling. I personally cannot see R being used in an introductory stats course, even though I've keenly followed its development, occasionally used it, and spent money on "introductory" R books (because R manuals stink).

There is no doubt about it, R is here to stay and it has clearly gained visibility: I have now seen job ads that would once only ask for SAS experience, acknowledge "R" as an alternative skill set. Why not Stata?! R's GUI is nowhere. R is not multiprocessor capable like Stata MP and has no short term plans to become so. Stata is consistent, good for reproducible research, has excellent flexible graphics (my opinion), lots of models, has Mata, is on every major OS platform, is very programmable (even its GUI is so), etc., etc...

Maybe Stata needs more review press. It has had major additions since version 7, the last time I saw it reviewed in magazines. Maybe Stata needs to hire someone to fill the evangelist position?! I'll send my resume.



I would argue that your sample is too small to make general
statements about the use of Stata.
Unless Suzy comes from the same school where I teach now, I would add
my convenience sample to hers. Stata is pretty much unheard of in
mainstream statistics. We have a STAT 7xxx class on statistical
software that teaches SAS and S-plus/R, as all the medical folks are
using SAS, and all the top-notch statistical research is usually
implemented in R... or at least nobody will call Matlab or Fortran a
purely statistical software. So students see SAS as a must when
applying for industry jobs, and R is necessary to talk to our
professors because the latter use R themselves.

I personally think it is time for Stata Corp. to stop chickening out
of statstics market. Stata has all the programming tools statisticians
find in R (a matrix language, object-oriented tools, compiled code for
faster implementations, even interface with C which, to my memory, was
only used my James Hardin for the suite of measurement error GLMs).
And  the more I work with SAS, the more I like Stata :))

Stas Kolenikov
David C. Airey, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor

Department of Pharmacology
School of Medicine
Vanderbilt University
8148-A Medical Research Building 3
465 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37232-8548

TEL   (615) 936-1510
FAX   (615) 936-3747

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