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

Tomas Aragon aragon at berkeley.edu
Fri Aug 20 04:59:58 CEST 2004

I am a clinician turned epidemiologist. I just taught R in an intro epi
course. Here are some tips:

- encourage them to use R as their calculator
- encourage them to use R as their spreadsheet
- provide them with exercises to work this functionality
- we started a Yahoo help group for beginner questions (see

I have some exercises at http://www.medepi.net/epitools/lab/

If you only show how to do things that can be done is any statistical
package, then they'll choose the "user-friendly" statistical package
(e.g., stata).

For any additional question, please contact me.
Good luck!

Tomas Aragon

--- Jacob Wegelin <jawegelin at ucdavis.edu> 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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Tomas Aragon, MD, DrPH, Director
Center for Infectious Disease Preparedness
UC Berkeley School of Public Health
1918 University Ave., 4th Fl., MC-7350
Berkeley, CA 94720-7350

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