[R] Making a case for using R in Academia

William Revelle lists at revelle.net
Fri Nov 10 03:01:20 CET 2006

   As a psychologist in one of departments that you are trying to send 
your Hanover undergrads to for grad school let me say that

  1) my various colleagues use SPSS, JMP, SAS and R.

2) I teach R as a supplement to my section of the  undergraduate 
research methods course and in the advanced undergraduate course in 
personality research.  For both of these I have prepared short 
tutorials that get them up and running very rapidly.

3) At the graduate level, in my psychometrics course, all my examples 
are done in R, but most of the students do the work in SPSS or JMP. 
(Although today, a 2nd year clinical student gave a wonderful talk 
about her data which she had analyzed in R, having just started using 
it last week.)

4) In terms of using R in psychological research, a recent paper of 
mine in Motivation and Emotion used John Fox's wonderful sem package 
and we also included an appendix with the R code for the simulations 
that we had run.  Why did I want to buy LISREL when I had sem? (We do 
have a site license for LISREL just in case I wanted to use it.)

5) As further evidence that  editors in the social sciences accept 
analyses done in R, I have a chapter in press  in a handbook in 
personality research that includes an appendix in R on how to do 
simulated experiments and then how to analyze the data.

So, you can tell your colleagues that at least some social science 
departments think highly of undergrads who know R.

In answer to your does anyone have any statistics on the use of R in 
the social sciences?  I don't know.

Would not knowing SPSS put students at a disadvantage?  No.  I agree 
with Harold Doran that just knowing SPSS would put them at a 


>As a addendum to all this, this is one of the responses I got from 
>one of my colleagues:
>"The problem with R is that our students in many social science 
>fields, are expected to know SPSS when they go to graduate school.
>Not having a background in SPSS would put these students at a 
>Is this really the case? Does anyone have any such statistics?
>Charilaos Skiadas
>Department of Mathematics
>Hanover College
>P.O.Box 108
>Hanover, IN 47243
>R-help at stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list
>PLEASE do read the posting guide http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html
>and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.

William Revelle		http://pmc.psych.northwestern.edu/revelle.html   
Professor			http://personality-project.org/personality.html
Department of Psychology       http://www.wcas.northwestern.edu/psych/
Northwestern University	http://www.northwestern.edu/

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