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Thread: STATA or SAS? Which one should I learn?

  1. #16
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    maartenbuis's Avatar
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    Re: STATA or SAS? Which one should I learn?

    Let me give some input as a Stata user. My take on the difference between R versus Stata and SPSS (and I guess SAS) is that the focus of R is on being a programming language that can be used for statistical analysis, while Stata & Co. are primarily data analysis programs. This is more a difference in focuss not in kind; the steep learning curve and flexibility of R are both a direct result of that. Both are legitimate and useful approaches, but useful to different audiences.

    My interpretation of Stata is that it takes an intermediate possition between R and SPSS, it is still a program that focusses on data-analysis, but it explicitly enables and invites users to write new programs. Another advantage of Stata is that the documentation is excelent. Compared to SPSS, Stata has a much more consistent syntax, which makes it easier to learn. Interestingly, this also applies to the user written commands as Stata provides various syntax parsers and other tools to help user programmers to maintain that consistancy also for their programs.

  2. #17
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    Re: STATA or SAS? Which one should I learn?

    I recommend SAS and R. I won't bother listing the strengths and limitations as many have already stated, but both are very good to know despite being academic or industry bound.

    I personally use SAS for about 95% of what I do (data management, analyses, reports). I tend to use R mainly for graphics and the occasional simulation. I like the fact that you download packages for just about anything and some of those packages have really neat extensions that interface with other software (like WinBUGS).

    By the way, I also come from a background in Psychology (undergrad) and Biostatistics (graduate)!

  3. #18
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    staassis's Avatar
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    Re: STATA or SAS? Which one should I learn?

    For my detailed comparison of the main statistical packages (including SAS, Stata and R) please see


    I personally love R. Very flexible and no other shell beats it in terms of libraries dedicated to modern applied statistics.

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