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Statistical Software: Overview

Guide to resource on statistical packages like SPSS, Stata, SAS, and R

Penn Libraries Virtual Computer Lab

The Penn Libraries offer the Virtual Computer Lab for students to access software applications normally accessible in Library computer labs. Software includes in-demand titles that students can’t easily access by other means.

The Penn Libraries vLab provides a Windows 10 virtual PC desktop with SPSS and Stata/IC available.

Other Penn vLabs

Looking for specialized software? Need software for a course? Some Penn schools host their own virtual computer labs for their faculty, staff, and students.

Software and Labs

Statistical and GIS software availability by lab location:


This guide presents resources at Penn Libraries and elsewhere for understanding and using the statistical packages SPSS, SAS, Stata, and R, available on lab computers at Van Pelt and other libraries, as well as the Undergraduate and Graduate Data Analysis Labs (UDAL). Stat/Transfer is available at UDAL.

Some packages are available at educational discount through Penn Software Licensing (Penn Business Services). R is available for free download from the R Project.

Top Resources

Comparison of Packages

SAS Logo Powerful data management for complex data sets, steep learning curve.
SPSS Logo Menu-driven. For the occasional user. Not appropriate for  analyzing complex survey data. Resembles Excel interface.
STATA Logo Menus as well as command-line interface. Robust support for complex sample surveys.
Logo for R the command-line data search Command-line. Free and open source. New packages frequently released.


Comparison drawn from:

Mitchell, M. N. (2005). Strategically using General Purpose Statistics Packages: A Look at Stata, SAS and SPSS (Technical Report Series, Report Number 1, Version Number 1). Statistical Consulting Group: UCLA Academic Technology Services.

Comparisons of packages for specific statistical tests. From Google Scholar. Add the statistical analysis of interest to the search.

Popularity of Data Analysis Software. Updated comparison of packages by use.

Statistics Reference

This guide covers statistical software rather than statistical analysis itself. Below are some selected resources on statistics.

Style guides
Encyclopedias & dictionaries
Selecting a test ...
Nonparametic statistics

Statistical Software Assistance at the Library

Appointments are available with our statistics software consultant for R, Stata, SPSS, and Python.  Make an appointment via the Penn Libraries Technology Consultation Appointment page : select "Stata, R and Other Statistical Software" for available appointments.

Business & Data Analysis Librarian

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Kevin Thomas
Subjects: Statistics

Librarian & Coordinator of Social Sciences Collections

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Lauris Olson
University of Pennsylvania Libraries
203 Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
University of Pennsylvania
3420 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
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(215) 898-7555