Statistical / Data analytics software

Hey there!

In one of my projects, I am co-developing and working on a survey project (we’re surveying students’ career perspectives) that generates a complex set of more and more data (going from four digits possibly far into five digits of participants end of the year).

Until now, I’ve been using the R statistical package to do my fundamental analyses, explorations, and visualisations. It worked for me in the past, but getting stuff to work and look acceptable can take much time. This time around, I am wondering whether I should be springing for a copy of Tableau (expensive!) or Microsoft Power BI (surprisingly affordable), especially since I want to explore more ways to dive into the data. In most cases, finding interesting insights takes eight to ten uninteresting tries. My theory is that if exploring and crawling the data would be easier, I’d miss fewer really exciting insights that would otherwise go unnoticed.

With R, diving into the data, for me, always feels a bit like chiselling myself into a frozen lake and I’d really like that elegant cliff-diving experience of “click-and-wow” to explore and then possibly confirm my stats analysis in R after having explored the nugget.

Anybody got any insight or recommendations on Tableau, Power BI, or any other software?


How are you collecting this data?

Qualtrics is a survey platform that also has some of these features baked in.

I have also used SPSS, however that too can be expensive, I have access to it since I work at a University.

For many of the projects I work on with data, I just end up using queries and MS Access to find what I need.

There are mathematical packages that are free, but I don’t know they have the statistical focus you need.

When I was in university, we used a package called Minitab. I don’t think it’s free, I think the university had a site license. The big mainframe had SAS, which I think is more powerful.

Thank you for your thoughts!

The data is being collected by a custom-made website / database solution. We used a surveying tool before, Unipark by Questback, but now moved to a stand-alone solution. Unipark had some basic functions in that regard, but was never really a good choice to explore data quickly. I’ve heard of Qualtrics and many colleagues are reasonably impressed with it, but thats not what we are using to gather.

SPSS is fine, but, yes - expensive, too. Plus, it’s more on the statistical analysis side of things than on visualisations. I’d like to keep the analysis on R, but am looking for some quick exploration tool. But you are right, SPSS might help there, too.

MS Access is an interesting twist - have not thought about this. I shall investigate!

Thank you for pointing out those options!

I have not heard of Octave before, but it appears somewhat comparable to R. Programming heavy. Might be worthwhile to explore a bit further.

Minitab sounds very interesting, indeed - especially based on their stated mission. Definitely going to give them a closer look!

SAS: yeah, that’s the big iron, together with Qualtrics. Their visualisation products look interesting, but I doubt I will be able to afford it. Still good to hear some known offers, too - just to find that I am not entirely off with the products I previously thought about.