EpiInfo, SAS, Stata, SPSS
Posted by chads on June 4, 2008
We recently had the following discussion via email, and thought it might be useful to post it for everyone:
I’m fairly new to data management and analysis. I’m currently learning Epi Info for a project, and I know that I’ll be using STATA for BioStats this fall. I just wanted to get a “real-life” feel for which programs have been most useful and/or which are used the most. How often do you use Epi Info? STATA? SPSS? Which, would you say, is most useful? Which should I spend the most time learning? Any other advice?
Kirk Dearden: “I’d avoid EpiInfo. It has some advantages (e.g., it’s free and you can use it to calculate sample size and calculate Z scores for nutritional status) but I find it very cumbersome all around–even for data entry. For data entry I’ve switched to Excel–at least that’s the program I’ve used in my training of aid workers. It too has problems. Better options for more serious data analysis are epihandy (if you’ve got a PDA) and CSPro–both free of charge and much more manageable.
Which software package is best for data analysis is the subject of debate the world over! Of course the big three are SPSS, Stata and SAS. SPSS is great for graphics but I find it too easy to use the menus to conduct analyses. Using menus limits what you can do and–in my mind–is a crutch. SAS is the most powerful of the three though for what any of us is doing, these differences are really negligible. I like Stata because it is very interactive and intuitive. So, I’d say SAS or Stata.”
Ben Crookston: “As for data management and analysis, I think Kirk summed it up quite well. I use SAS a majority of the time, but do use Stata on occasion. If you only plan to do general analyses and don’t intend to do a lot of data management (cleaning, shaping, restructuring, etc.) then I would learn Stata and stick with it. Because I do a lot of data management, I prefer SAS.”