Comment of the Day: "I've pretty much gone over to R completely in my own work and in my teaching...:
...John Fox's R Commander allows the students - most of whom couldn't write actual code if their lives depended on it - work with the package and, since Gary King's team wrote Zelig, I have come to like R better then the other alternatives for myself. And then there's this:
R is free. All it takes to use the program is the sweat equity of learning how. This is driving a lot of the growth in the use of the app. When you look at who's using R you find a lot of people from research institutions and governments in poor countries. R is a real boon for them and puts their work at a higher level with very little initial outlay. It also has many fans in the graduate communities for the same reason. Why dole out $100 - 150 on a crippled version of one of the commercial apps when you can get a continuously updated, fully functional app for free?
Answer comes there none.
I initially decided to switch to R from SPSS because I can see these trends going forward. My students need to know how to use software that is going to be used by their peers. Luckily, I found I could use the app myself to do my own work as well.
Smith is right, however; using R takes some getting used to. It is as quirky as he says and it doesn't lend itself to usual rote thinking about program structure. Oth, there are plenty of supporter apps - I like RStudio - that can ease the pain considerably. I now have a substantial library of R books too, so the $100 - 150 my students will save by not buying a student version of STATA is likely to be more then eaten up, sooner or later. It's all worth it, imho.