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​How to Choose Data Analysis Software

A comparative guide to qualitative and quantitative data analysis software.

Quantitative Analysis Software- Open Source

Fusion Tables Gephi Julia OpenRefine Python R & R-Studio Tableau Public Weka
Coding Language(s)

Java

Python

JVM Based Languages (e.g. Clojure, Scala)

Julia

GREL

Python

Python

R

Python

SQL

VizQL

Java

User Interface Language(s)

Available in language of Google account settings

English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Czech & German

English, Italian, Spanish & Turkish

English & Italian

Language Packages available for download in most languages

Available in most languages

English, French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, Japanese & simplified Chinese

Operating System(s)

Web-based software

Windows

Mac OS X

Linux

Windows

Mac OS X

Linux

Windows

Mac OS X

Linux

Windows

Mac OS X

Linux

Windows

Mac OS X

Linux

Windows

Mac OS X

Windows

Mac OS X

Linux

Cost

Free/Open Source

Free/Open Source

Free/Open Source

Free/Open Source

Free/Open Source

Free/Open Source

Free/Open Source

Free/Open Source

 

Fusion Tables

Google Fusion Tables provide an open source, cloud-based, quantitative analysis software, specifically designed for map creation. Typical users include geographers, sociologists, political scientists, and other social sciences. Free download available.  

Pros Cons
  • Available in Google Drive as a cloud-based program, allowing for convenient collaboration
  • Produces options for visualizing data using graphs, charts, and thematic maps
  • Ability to merge data from multiple sources
  • Appropriate for map building purposes only
  • Data must include locational data
  • Datasets can not exceed 100 MB; each user is only allotted up to 250 MB of data

 

Import and Export File Capabilities

Import: Excel or Open Office files (.xls, .xlsx, .ods), Text files (.txt, .csv) & Web-based (including Google Maps/Google Earth (.kml) and Google Spreadsheets)

Export: Google Maps (.kml) & as embedded web link


View this Google Fusion Tables video tutorial to learn how to visualize data and quickly display data on Google Maps. 

Gephi

Gephi is an open source quantitative analysis software. Typical users include scientists and the social sciences. Free download available.  

Pros Cons
  • Easy graph import and export
  • Many options for visual encoding
  • Various layout algorithms to choose from
  • Computation of graph statistics
  • User interface navigation needs improvement
  • Some visual glitches
  • Version is prone to have system bugs here and there

 

Import and Export File Capabilities

Import: Text files (.csv, .net, .dot), Web-based files (.graphml) & additional formats (.tlp, .gml)

Export: Excel files (.xls, .xlsx), Text files (.csv, .pdf, .net), Web-based files (.graphml, .svg, .gexf) & additional formats (.gdf)


View this Gephi video tutorial for an introductory look at the software. 

Julia

Julia is an open source quantitative analysis software. Typical users include scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. Free download available

Pros Cons
  • Can be run via web browser, no download required
  • Syntax is similar to other coding languages (such as C and R), making learning intuitive for beginners with coding experience 
  • More suited for those with some background in coding
  • Software may be less intuitive for MATLAB users due to high number of syntax similarities with varying meanings

 

Import and Export File Capabilities

Import: Text files (.csv, .tsv, .wsv, .txt)

Export: Text files (.csv, .dat)


 

OpenRefine

OpenRefine (previously known as Google Refine) is an open source pre-analysis software, built for cleaning and transforming messy data. Typical users include the social sciences, humanities, and profit/nonprofit corporations. Free download available

Pros Cons
  • Useful when working with messy data that needs to be cleaned or transformed before use
  • Connects to database APIs
  • Dataset merge capabilities
  • Infinite number of undos/redos
  • The actions taken to a dataset can be extracted and later applied on additional datasets
  • Has web-based interface
  • Uses programming language GREL which is less known and not always intuitive for beginners
  • Is not convenient for data entry; datasets should be uploaded into the program
  • Is less suited for large datasets; single columns cannot be collapsed for better viability 

 

Import and Export File Capabilities

Import: Excel files (.xls, .xlsx), Text files (.csv, .tsv), Web-based files (.xml, .html, .rdf) & additional formats (.json, .tar, .tar gz, Google Spreadsheets, Google Fusion Tables)

Export: Excel files (.xls, .xlsx), Text files (.csv, tsv), Web-based files (.html) & additional formats (.json, .tar, .tar gz)


View this OpenRefine video tutorial for more information on its use as a mix-methods evaluation and analysis tool. 

Python

Python is an open source quantitative analysis software for both first-time and experienced coders. Typical users include the social sciences, arts, engineers, government agencies, academia, and profit/nonprofit corporations. Free download available

Pros Cons
  • Flexible and intuitive programming language
  • Syntax allows users to express concepts in fewer lines of code
  • Access to supportive Python community for Q&A
  • Can lack in speed and efficiency in comparison to other software

 

Import and Export File Capability

Import: Excel files (.xls, .xlsx), Text files (.txt, .csv) & additional formats (.sql, HDF5)

Export: Excel files (.xls, .xlsx), Text files ).txt, .csv) & additional formats (HDF5)


View this Python video tutorial for first-time Python users to learn the basics of the software. 

R R-Studio

R and R-Studio are open source quantitative analysis software specifically for network and text analysis, data mining, and web scraping. Typical users include scientists, economists, bioinformatics, sociologists, and marketing researchers. Free download available for R and R-Studio. For a walk through on how to install both programs, see this How-To Guide

Pros Cons
  • Functions are flexible and versatile
  • Works well with large datasets; the size is only limited by the computer during use not the software itself
  • Over 6000 user written/contributed packages available through CRAN
  • High level of graphics
  • Interacts well with other software (i.e. Python, Bioconductor, WinBUGS, JAGS etc.)
  • Large supportive online community for Q&A
  • Can be difficult to navigate without rudimentary understanding of different data types
  • Number of user written/contributed packages may be hard to sift through
  • No formal tech support

 

Import and Export File Capabilities 

Import: Excel files (.xls, .xlsx), Text files (.txt, .dat, .csv), Web-based files (.xml) & additional formats (.sav, .dta, .sas7bdat, .json)

Export: Excel files (.xlsx), Text files (.txt, .csv) & additional formats (.sav, .dta, .json)


 

Tableau Public

Tableau Public is an open source quantitative analysis software with high graphics and an intuitive user interface. Typical users include profit/nonprofit corporations. Free download available

Pros Cons
  • Drag and drop user interface allows users of all programming skill levels
  • Dashboards allow users to combine multiple views of their data into one analytics tool
  • Web-based version and desktop-based version
  • Free version does not have the full capabilities of the full-scale version, Tableau Desktop.

 

Import and Export File Capabilities

Import: Excel files (.xls, .xlsx), Text files (.txt, .csv) & Access files (.mdb, .accdb)

Export: Text files (.pdf) & Web-based files (embedded web links)


View this Tableau Public video tutorial for a basic training overview of Tabluea's visual analytic techniques. 

WEKA

WEKA is an open sources quantitative analysis software developed in New Zealand. Typical users include academia and profit/nonprofit corporations. Free download available

Pros Cons
  • Compatible with large or small datasets
  • Data visualization does not include scatterplots, other plots (e.g. box-whisker, mean/error), or 3D graphs
  • Does not import data from Excel

Import and Export File Capabilities

Import: Text files (.txt, .csv), Web-based files & additional formats (.arff, .libsvm)

Export:


View this WEKA video tutorial for first-time users, including how to get started.

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