Re: [R] Using R in a university course: dealing with proposal comments

From: Neil Shephard <>
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2008 07:37:04 -0800 (PST)

Arin Basu-3 wrote:
> Comment 2:
> Finally, on a minor point, why is "R" the statistical software being
> used? SPSS is probably more widely available in the workplace –
> certainly in areas of social policy etc. " (Prof NB)

What struck me in the above is the "probably". How probable is it, anything to substantiate the claim?

Anyway, whether one package is more widely available in the workplace than another is somewhat of a moot point. If a student learns how to use one software package then they start to get pigeon-holed into using that particular software package.

Many jobs are advertised with "SPSS/SAS/Stata/S-Plus" (add/subtract at will) skills/knowledge required (or at least desirable). The prospective job applicant may think "Well I don't know how to use that so I shan't bother applying" or they may be unwilling to re-learn how to use a new stats package after months/years of investment in learning how to use another package, alternatively they may well just loose out to someone who already has the experience/skills.

(Most) of this problem isn't negated when using R. Start a new job and use the (excellent, extensible, and free) software that you've been using for years.

I'd stick with using R to teach your statistics, in the long-run any of them who continue to perform statistical analysis will be grateful.


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