My name is Emily Pacholski, and I’m a second year MPH student at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences with a concentration in Epidemiology. I have been at the UofL Hospital Division of Infectious Diseases CTRSC for a little over eight months now, and let me tell you, I feel like I have been at this division for at least a decade due to all the statistical programs, manuscript writing/submissions, and field epi work, to name a few, which I have been exposed to!
I wanted to start out my first blog bringing up a debate I recently have been having with Professors in the Epi/Biostatistics concentration at my school on the importance and usage of the statistical program R versus SAS. I currently use R to perform statistical analyses, and so far during my second year, two of my Epi concentration courses have brought up the importance of SAS to have under your belt as we eventually will venture out into the working world. I have had the guts to mention to these same professors the usage I’ve been able to learn with R and so far from what I have grasped from it’s usage the pretty decent capabilities it has to perform many analyses and the easy availability of codes to write scripts and perform those analyses due to it being a free program.
You would think the descriptive term of “FREE” would be enough for my school and Public Health employers to see R as a necessary tool in a Public Health major’s “toolbox”. However, many of my professors have instead been pushing the importance of mastering the more expensive SAS “tool”. While I have not begun learning the basics of SAS quite yet in at least one of my courses this semester, I am curious to understand why this statistical program is more strongly pushed at least within my school, when from what I’ve gathered so far from a few statistical professionals, it is relatively just as powerful as R, but more expensive!!!
If anyone knows or understands more already about why SAS seems to triumph R at least amongst the statistical community, please leave your comments! I believe I truly will not understand this phenomenon until I start using SAS myself and witness its supposedly better “magical” capabilities.