SPSS or Stata? (created 2010-01-19).

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I am an SPSS user. Some of my friends are choosing to leave SPSS and learn STATA. What are the advantages of STATA over SPSS?

You'll get a bunch of conflicting opinions, so don't take any single opinion too seriously including mine. What package you use and like often depends strongly on what package you used first in graduate school or what package all your colleagues use.

I've used both packages in my previous job, but mostly SPSS. I reserved Stata for the complex analyses that could not be done by SPSS. We had a site license for SPSS, but not for Stata, so I could encourage my clients to try SPSS on their own, but not Stata.

Stata is harder to learn than SPSS because it is predominantly a command based interface with menu selections laid on top. SPSS is predominantly a menu based interface with command selections (syntax) laid on top. Stata is not that much more complicated, however. If you are already comfortable with SPSS syntax, you will not have too much trouble with Stata.

Also, Stata is a single package and not a bunch of modules that you choose from. That can be perceived as an advantage or as a disadvantage.

Stata is pretty easy to extend, so like R it has a lot of user contributed content. I've used a user contributed module of Stata to perform meta-analysis, for example.

SPSS does have extensibility now, but it was later in adding it than Stata, so there is less user created content, though Raynald Levesque is doing a heroic job at www.spsstools.net.

I would argue that any statistician should have the ability to run several different software packages. So I would encourage you to consider SPSS and Stata or SPSS and R or SPSS and SAS. That can get expensive, of course, because all the packages except for R cost a lot of money. If your employer picks up the bill, that's less of a consideration, but for an independent consultant like me, money is a serious consideration.