The following software are open-source resources for learning about and carrying out statistical analysis. Nevertheless, you should check their terms and conditions to ensure you do not use them inappropriately.

GenStat Discovery (VSN International)

GenStat is a comprehensive statistics package that has been used in the most demanding real-life applications for over 30 years. It contains the broadest range of leading-edge statistical tools in an easy-to-use package, underpinned by its powerful and flexible high-level programming language. GenStat was developed at the Rothamsted Experimental Station (RRES) where many of the statistical techniques still in use today were first discovered.

Lack of funding should not mean poor quality research. The GenStat Discovery Edition is a free version of GenStat developed by VSN International for use by not-for-profit research organisations, charities and educational institutes based in the developing world. "The idea of a free GenStat version for scientists in developing countries had been discussed for a while and GenStat Discovery Edition 1 was released in 2003, thanks greatly to the efforts of Roger Stern at Reading University and colleagues, Parin Kurji at the University of Nairobi, Ric Coe at the World Agroforestry Centre, (ICRAF) in Nairobi and the VVOB (Flemish Association for Development Cooperation and Technical Assistance) funded 'Capacity Strengthening in Research Methods' project based at the ICRAF-ILRI Research Methods Group in Nairobi", Stewart Andrews, VSNi CEO.

Effective use of the Biometrics and Research Methods Teaching Resource relies heavily on GenStat being available to the user.

Register and download GenStat Discovery from:

Instat and SSC-Stat (Reading University, UK)

Instat is a general statistical package. It is simple enough to be useful in teaching statistical ideas, yet has the power to assist research in any discipline that requires the analysis of data. Instat has been used widely in the UK and elsewhere by a range of companies, research institutes, schools, colleges, universities and private individuals. At Reading it has been used extensively on training courses run by the SSC. It has also been used in many countries on statistics courses and on courses related to health, agriculture and climatology.

'Instat+' (i.e. the Windows version of Instat) has been developed mainly because of its continued use for the analysis of climatic data. Funding from the UK Met Office for a new climatic version, supplemented by support from the Statistical Services Centre and the efforts of other collaborators, led to this Windows version.

SSC-Stat is an add-in for Microsoft Excel. Many people start with their data in Excel, so it is logical to build on that and add some features often needed for statistical analysis. SSC-Stat is designed to strengthen those areas where the spreadsheet package is already strong, principally in the areas of data management, graphics and descriptive statistics.

Instat is used by Case Studies 7 and 11.

Download Instat and SSC-Stat from:


R is a language and environment for statistical computing and graphics. R can be considered as a different implementation of S. There are some important differences, but much code written for S runs unaltered under R.

R provides a wide variety of statistical (linear and nonlinear modelling, classical statistical tests, time-series analysis, classification, clustering, etc.) and graphical techniques, and is highly extensible. The S language is often the vehicle of choice for research in statistical methodology, and R provides an Open Source route to participation in that activity.

One of R's strengths is the ease with which well-designed publication-quality plots can be produced, including mathematical symbols and formulae where needed. Great care has been taken over the defaults for the minor design choices in graphics, but the user retains full control.

R, like S, is designed around a true computer language, and it allows users to add additional functionality by defining new functions. Much of the system is itself written in the R dialect of S, which makes it easy for users to follow the algorithmic choices made. For computationally-intensive tasks, C, C++ and FORTRAN code can be linked and called at run time. Advanced users can write C code to manipulate R objects directly.

Many users think of R as a statistics system but rather it is an environment within which statistical techniques are implemented. R can be extended (easily) via packages. There are about eight packages supplied with the R distribution and many more are available through the CRAN family of Internet sites covering a very wide range of modern statistics.

Appendices to Case Studies 1 and 4 demonstrate the use of R for the analysis of data in these case studies.

Download R from:

CAST (Massey University, New Zealand)

CAST stands for Computer-Assisted Statistics Textbooks and consists of a collection of electronic textbooks (e-books). Three e-books cover material in introductory statistical methods courses with data and scenarios from different application areas. Other e-books teach more advanced topics.

CAST can be used directly from the Massey University (New Zealand) website at However, users are encouraged to download CAST and run it from a local hard disk, file server or web server. This greatly increases its speed, reduces the load on the web server and allows people to work off-line. The Biometrics and Research Methods Teaching Resource does not use CAST. Nevertheless, it is recommended as a useful package for putting over elementary statistical concepts and methods to students in a novel and interesting way. Download CAST from:

Census and Survey Processing System (CSPro)

The Census and Survey Processing System (CSPro) developed and supported by the U.S. Census Bureau, is a free software package for entering, editing, tabulating, and disseminating census and survey data. CSPro is designed to be as user-friendly as possible, yet powerful enough to handle the most complex applications. It can be used by a wide range of people, from non-technical staff assistants to senior demographers and programmers. As well as using a simple graphical interface, CSPro also contains a sophisticated programming language that can be used to create highly customised applications.

Download CSpro from:

A useful 'Getting Started Guide' can also be downloaded. The use of CSPro is also described in the University of Reading Good Practice Guide 13.