Introduction to the Free Statistical Package - R for Social Work Research and Evaluation

Friday, January 16, 2015: 4:30 PM-6:15 PM
Iberville, Fourth Floor (New Orleans Marriott)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement
Thanh V. Tran, PhD, Boston College and Kaipeng Wang, MSW, Boston College

Statistical packages such as SAS, SPSS, and Stata are expensive. Thus, many social work agencies have to use Excel statistical toolpak for data analysis.  Although Excel statistical toolpak is free, it has numerous limitations. 

The purpose of this workshop is to introduce a free statistical package – R for social work research and evaluation. R is a statistical computer program available for public use through the Internet under the General Public License (GPL).  R provides flexibility, ranging from writing code for simple tasks to implementing complicated statistical analyses. R is compatible with Apple OS, Windows and Unix environment, and has been widely used in health sciences, economics and business at numerous public, private and international organizations.

This workshop will provide attendants an overview of R software with an emphasis on using R for data management, primary data research, and secondary data analysis. We will demonstrate the use of R and compare its statistical results with SPSS and Stata.     


  1. Overview of R.
  2. Downloading and installing R on a computer.
  3. Data management in R, such as creating a data set, defining variables, and transforming variables.
  4. Using R for primary data research and program evaluation.
  5. Using R for secondary data analysis.

Career Level and Prerequisites

Participants are expected to have basic understanding of descriptive statistics and some knowledge of regression analysis.  At the end of the workshop, participants will have basic understanding of the R programming environment, and become familiar with basic statistical analysis using R.  Hand on learning materials will be available at the workshop.

Methods and Approach

This hand-on workshop will be conducted in an interactive manner between the attendants and the presenters. Powerpoint presentation and data analysis demonstration will be used with interpretations and discussions. Handouts will be provided. Attendants are welcome to ask questions during the session.

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