Introduction- Even though R is a very powerful tool and is free, people with SAS and SPSS background have trouble adapting to R language. That is because all data objects in SAS, SPSS are in fixed rectangular layout, and the programmer just needs to write a series of pre given functions to give results. In R the flexibility of functions, and the sheer diversity of it can confuse and confound the SAS and SPSS programmer wanting to learn it. Note that most SAS and SPSS programmers are corporate users, thus they pay for licenses only by just signing the approved email, and they have a paucity of time.
The technical review-
The book is lucid, exhaustive and lists down all reasons for and against R in an objective scientific manner. It goes in great detail, has ready datasets and offers the earlier reference sheet from its websites (http://RforSASandSPSSusers.com). At 75 $ it is not expensive considering the cost of other textbooks in this domain. Having both SAS and SPSS can be a distraction as many SPSS users actually use its click and point interface rather than write raw syntax- perhaps those screenshots should be included.
It thus gives you the side effect of teaching you twice the languages you wanted to learn, but that’s a good thing. Of course you can choose to ignore the second language if you don’t want to learn it.Maybe this book can be split into R for SAS users and R for SPSS users separately (unless Muenchen is trying an agenda of unifying the whole analytics world – a common theme in November 2008 in the USA 😉 )
The book is very easy to understand, providing a step by step way of learning R thoroughly. In addition it uses screenshots extensively to make the point. However this sometimes slows the pace down of the book as it resorts to oversimplification for an advanced SAS users . It does have a good reference guide for people who just need R for some functions like graphics to be used in combination with WPS or Base SAS. You can simply pick and choose.
However it would have been great if there was a CD version.Perhaps it would be in the next edition.
An additional point is that it tries to briefly explain advanced statistical functions (or SAS/STAT equivalents). Some more depth in this section especially to the very popular logistic and linear regression techniques would have helped.(I.e a Chapter on how to build, validate and test a scoring risk model using R).
However you can use the existing chapters to get started on the modeling and iteratively come to its solutions. Some more coverage of Graphical User Interface would have helped, even though that that would have helped many people to simply go to the easy way of using click and get results of the RCmdr and Rattle GUI.
Overall- a great textbook, you would need to spend an hour a day for as much as three weeks to master the book and once you do it would be worth it.
I highly recommend this book for both technical and business users, and for libraries as a reference guide. Both corporate and academic users would relate to the readability of the book and Amazon is also launching a kindle version soon.
The business case review-
In these troubled economic times, if you have to choose between cutting down your software costs or your supervisor having to choose all his software AND employee costs, would you take the time and 50 $ to learn two additional analytics platforms. Because that is what this book by Muenchen does, it can teach SAS to R programmers, and SPSS to both. It’s almost a triple pack combo.
Muenchen spent two years creating a textbook and off the shelf manual for all three languages. Given the fact that the Base SAS language is also supported by WPS ( a software that costs only 600 dollars a year and reads/writes SAS codes and datasets), this book deals with both SAS and WPS languages
Wait a minute ! That’s what all advertisers say…but this is an honest review.(Gandhian Economics-If price of everything was demand and supply, then price of honesty would be infinite- because the supply is so low and the demand so high.)
Buying this book for yourself or a friend could thus save your organizations a lot of money, give you additional skills on your resume and give you bragging rights at the cooler for knowing three languages (SAS, SPSS and R) – all for the price of $ 75 .