[R] Is R good for not-professional-statistician, un-mathematical clinical researchers?

Ernesto Jardim ernesto at ipimar.pt
Thu Aug 19 11:08:44 CEST 2004

On Thu, 2004-08-19 at 07:45, Jacob Wegelin wrote:
> Alternate title: How can I persuade my students that R is for them?
> Alternate title: Can R replace SAS, SPSS or Stata for clinicians?
> I am teaching introductory statistics to twelve physicians and two veterinarians
> who have enrolled in a Mentored Clinical Research Training Program.  My course is the
> first in a sequence of three.  We (the instructors of this sequence) chose to teach
> R rather than some other computing environment.
> My (highly motivated) students have never encountered anything like R.  One frankly
> asked:
> "Do you feel (honestly) that a group of physicians (with two vets) clinicians will
> be able to effectively use and actually understand R? If so, I will happily call this
> bookstore and order this book [Venables and Ripley] tomorrow."
> I am heavily biased toward R/S because I have used it since the first applied statistics
> course I took.  But I would love to give these students some kind of objective information
> about the usability of R by non-statisticians--not just my own bias.
> Could anyone suggest any such information?  Or does anyone on this list use R who is
> a clinician and not really mathematically savvy?  For instance, someone who doesn't
> remember any math beyond algebra and doesn't think in terms of P(A|B)?
> Or have we done a disservice to our students by choosing to make them
> learn R, rather than making ourselves learn SAS, Stata or SPSS?
> Thank you for any ideas
> Jake Wegelin
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Hi Jake,

I can give you my experience on this subject. First of all I am not a
Stats/Maths professional, I'm a Marine Biologist working in fisheries,
although with a MSc in Stats ... but I've started using R before I did
the MSc.

In the Fisheries Scientists Community R is becoming broadly used and
most scientists have backgrounds in Biology or similars.

I think the most important question is "are they afraid of the command
line ?" if yes forget about R, otherwise I guess they will love it when
they'll find how much they can do with it.

Hope it helps

Best regards


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