Hello, AEA365 community! Liz DiLuzio here, Lead Curator of the blog. This week is Individuals Week, which means we take a break from our themed weeks and spotlight the Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources and Lessons Learned from any evaluator interested in sharing. Would you like to contribute to future individuals weeks? Email me at AEA365@eval.org with an idea or a draft and we will make it happen.
I’m Gene Shackman, applied sociologist, and director of the Global Social Change Research Project. I’m very interested in analyzing data on the web, but commercial programs like SPSS can be expensive. As such, I’ve spent a lot of time looking for statistical programs that are free (and easy) to use. I found a bunch over the years, and I’d like to share them with you.
SAS Studio (https://www.sas.com/en_us/software/on-demand-for-academics.html) is free to use, and has all or most of the capabilities of the commercial version. There are a couple of limits though. It does have a menu system, but I found it a little difficult. And you have to upload your data to their server and you have a 5GB limit.
General Statistical Packages
CDC’s general statistical package, Epi Info (https://www.cdc.gov/epiinfo/index.html), and PSPP (https://www.gnu.org/software/pspp/pspp.html) both have menu based systems and are easy to use. They both can do frequencies, means, correlations and regressions, at the very least. While LibreOffice (https://www.libreoffice.org) is not a general statistical package, it’s spreadsheet program, Calc, can also do frequencies, means, correlations and regressions.
R Based Packages
Among the easiest to use and most comprehensive R based packages are JASP (https://jasp-stats.org), jamovi (https://www.jamovi.org), BlueSky (https://www.blueskystatistics.com) and RKWard (https://rkward.kde.org). These are all R based but have easy to use menu systems. These all could also do frequencies, means, correlations and regressions, and I’m sure much more.
In a comparison of the statistical output of 8 packages, including those listed above, (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4105959), I found that they all gave pretty much the same values for frequencies, means and correlation, and regression when the procedure was available. I’d feel pretty confident using any of these free-to-use programs.
- The programs I describe above are general statistical programs. There are also all sorts of specialized programs, as well as free add-ons to Excel. Several websites list links to these programs and have brief descriptions. Two of the most comprehensive are Free Statistical Software (https://statpages.info/javasta2.html) and my page (https://sites.google.com/site/gsocialchange/statsoft). Betty Jung also has a list (https://www.bettycjung.net/Statpgms.htm).
- Bob Muenchen reviewed a few R-based options, (https://r4stats.com/2022/02/09/r-graphical-user-interface-comparison/) describing their usability and what kind of graphics and analytics they have.
- Gao Niu and others review data processing functionality of several open-source statistical packages (https://www.igi-global.com/article/a-survey-of-open-source-statistical-software-osss-and-their-data-processing-functionalities/274513)
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