This page details some of the things you may need to think about when deciding which statistical software package is best for your purposes. It is also sprinkled with links to other web pages which may prove useful.
Before carrying on, you may first wish to take a look at The American Statistical Association's pages on software at:
There are three core statistical packages supported by Information Services at UoE: SPSS, Minitab and R.
If you have no other considerations then choosing one of the three would be a good idea. IS can provide some support for several other packages, details from the following link:
If you have a larger budget then none of the other considerations are likely to be as important. Like any other expensive bit of the computer, check that you can get some technical back-up or support for any statistical software when you purchase it.
Alternatively if money is tight, open access labs at the University or a computing lab within your own department may be an option if the software installed.
There are a few free or shareware statistics packages available across the web, but they are not necessarily known or supported at the University. Moreover, they tend to require programming skills and are usually maintained by academics so they are not updated as often as commercial ones.
R is the best one to choose. It's an open source package is available for Windows, Unix and Macintosh platforms, widely used throughout academic community. Some developers have even produced menu systems to make it easier to use.
Most computers should be able to run some sort of statistical software package. Most commercial packages will have a version running under the Windows operating system but SPSS and R provide version of their software for Macintosh and Linux operating systems too.
The trouble with Statistical packages and quantitative analysis is there can be a lot to learn. You need to learn how to operate the computer, how to deal with your data, and the mechanics of operating a statistical package. Also, some idea about the statistics you want and the best way to analyse the data is necessary.
Fortunately, many statistical packages are much easier to learn and use than they used to be and documentation is usually available on line from the producers web site or as part of the help system. Most analyses can be done using the menu system, although more complex or rarer calculations may still have to be programmed. Online tutorials come with the three core packages to help you get started.
Don't be! If none of these pointers has been helpful then please either contact your departmental computing officer or the IS Helpline to find out what statistical software is available for you in your College, School or department.
This article was published on Apr 18, 2013