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Statistics in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition by Sarah Boslaugh

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Appendix B. Introduction to Statistical Packages

At some point in your statistics career, you will probably need to use statistical software; theoretical understanding and a pocket calculator can take you only so far. Fortunately, we live in an age when many types of software are available to make the task of doing statistics easier. Most statisticians work with one or more of the standard statistical packages, such as SAS or SPSS. A statistical package is basically a collection of software routines with a common interface that has been designed to simplify the job of performing statistical analysis and related tasks such as data management. The main thing to remember with regard to statistical packages is that, like any computer software, they are only a means to an end. Each package has its advantages and disadvantages, and at least at the beginning level, you will probably need to use whatever is available at your workplace or at your school. If you then need to learn a new package (say, for a different job) it should not pose great difficulty. If you have a good theoretical understanding of statistics and at least minimal computer aptitude, you can figure out how to use just about any statistical package.

However, starting to work with a new statistical package might seem a daunting task, particularly if your boss or instructor assumes that you are already an expert in it! Printed manuals or online help files might or might not be useful at the very start; a surprising number ...

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