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

Patrick Burns pburns at pburns.seanet.com
Fri Aug 20 11:38:14 CEST 2004

I definitely agree that focussing on what R does better than
other options is the right approach.  One thing that Tomas
does not mention is graphics.  Two possible selling points along
this line are:

*)  R is good for understanding your data with graphics.
*)  R is good for producing graphics for publication.

This discussion reminds me of something my wife says: classes
are for learning what people don't want to do -- if someone is
happy to do something, they don't need a class to force them to
do it.

Patrick Burns

Burns Statistics
patrick at burns-stat.com
+44 (0)20 8525 0696
(home of S Poetry and "A Guide for the Unwilling S User")

Tomas Aragon wrote:

>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
>>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
>>"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
>>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
>>R-help at stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list
>>PLEASE do read the posting guide!
>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
>R-help at stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list
>PLEASE do read the posting guide! http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html

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