All About Stata

A screenshot of Stata10

What is Stata?
Stata is a general-purpose statistical software package used by many academics, particularly those in the fields of economics, sociology and politics.

Stata’s full range of capabilities includes:
* Data management
* Simulations
* Statistical analysis
* Custom programming
* Graphics

What is Stata used for?
Stata lets users transform data. Users can perform sophisticated statistical analyses that form the substance of what goes into publications. It can also represent that data in a variety of ways, including charts and graphs.

What kind of data can Stata transform?
Stata can read practically all data files. The data itself could be anything from how many British people smoke (from the General Household Survey) to quality changes in price indices (from the Family Expenditure Survey).

Stata files are widely available and may be obtained from a variety of sources, free or paid. University members can obtain certain files from the Data Library.

Why pick Stata?
Stata is not the only software for this purpose. SPSS and SAS are among the alternatives, but they lack some of Stata’s flexibility and speed. Over the past few years, Stata has been growing in popularity.

How does Stata work?
Users can interact with Stata in three ways: selecting from the menus, typing in commands or creating a “do” file that keeps a history of commands.

Stata uses a particular syntax with commands like this:
generate agebands=0
drop agebands
replace agebands=1 if age<=20
summarize agebands, detail

Writing these commands will take up the bulk of a researcher’s time and represent the most labour-intensive aspect of working with data. However you input them, it is important to keep these commands backed up!

What resources are in the library?
A new version of Stata is released roughly every two years. For each release (except 11), Nuffield College Library has a user’s guide, plus reference manuals. The reference manuals are arranged like an encyclopaedia by command name. The user’s guide and reference manuals for the last few releases are in the Library’s safe (closed access). Please ask for them at the enquiry desk (first floor).

The user’s guide and manuals for version 11 are available to all Nuffield members as PDFs. Please ask IT for details.

The library also has a number of books on Stata in the main collection, such as An introduction to Stata programming (shelfmark HA 32.S).

Further reading
There is a lot to read! Stata has an active email list (Statalist, over 1000 messages per month). Articles about the use of Stata and new user-written commands are published in the quarterly peer-reviewed Stata Journal (available at the Social Science Library).

A few useful links:
Stata homepage
Princeton Stata tutorial
Carolina Population Centre Stata tutorial
UCLA Stata resources

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About Nuffield College Library

We are a social sciences library serving Nuffield College and the University of Oxford
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One Response to All About Stata

  1. Pingback: 2010 in review « Nuffield College Library's Blog

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