Introduction to Data Analysis for Sociology Graduate Students

rev: 7/30/2014


Fall Quarter, 2014

Mondays and Wednesdays


Room TBA


Lab/Section once a week time and place TBA


Michael J. Rosenfeld

Associate Professor

Department of Sociology

Building 120 room 124

The class website is my personal Stanford website

Office Hours by appointment








            In this class you will teach yourself basic statistics including regression, how do statistical analysis, and how to find flaws and problems with statistical analyses.

            In the process of learning about data analysis you will also learn about demography and stratification in the U.S., because the dataset is the Current Population Survey of March, 2000, which is a nationally representative survey of more than 60,000 households, with lots of information about race, gender, income, occupation, place of residence, and so on.  You'll also learn how to use one of the most powerful and flexible tools for data analysis, the statistical software STATA.

††††††††††† Most class materials will be posted on my website ( We will use Coursework for collecting homework and returning homework, collecting and returning presentation drafts, collecting presentation slides, posting grades, and sending group emails.


Readings and Grading Policy


Books required (available at Stanford Bookstore):

* Tufte, Edward. 2001. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Graphics Press. ISBN-10: 0961392142. $30

* Treiman, Donald. 2009. Quantitative Analysis: Doing Social Research to Test Ideas. Jossey-Bass. ISBN-10: 0470380039. $59

* Silver, Nate. 2012. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail- But Some Donít. ISBN-10: 1594204111. $16



Recommended Books:

* Mathematical Statistics and Data Analysis, by John Rice, Duxbury Press, 3rd edition 2006, ISBN-10: 0534399428. $175

* Freedman, David, Robert Pisani, and Roger Purves. 2007. Statistics. Fourth Edition. W.W. Norton. $125. ISBN-10: 0393929728



The most important readings for the class are the Excel files, Stata logs, and PDF documentation posted on my website. Aside from the Tufte book, which we will be going over page-by-page in class, the other books are all supplementary. That is, you donít need the books. This is briefly why you should own the books anyway:

* Treiman is an excellent book about social statistics (using Stata), which covers some practical aspects of data analysis that we wonít get to in this class.

* Freedman is a classic introductory text about statistics, with no math, but with very good plain English explanations. If you donít have a math background, Freedmanís explanations may be helpful to you. If you do have a math background, the Freedman may help you explain statistics to other people. And if you end up teaching undergraduate statistics in the future, you may be teaching from Freedman.

* Rice is a classic introduction to statistics for readers who have at least a modest familiarity with calculus. Rice offers outlines of proofs, a fairly deep discussion of probability theory, and lots of great problems you can work through on your own. Rice is a great reference book that you should have on your shelf if you plan on doing any data analysis.

* Silver is a brilliant book about some practical applications and mis-applications of statistical thinking in the everyday world.



Software Required

* You will need Stata in order to do the homework for Soc 381. You have several options:

1) The least easy and the least palatable is to use Stata over Unix. This is free but very cumbersome.

2) Stata is installed in the graduate student computer cluster, running on Windows PCs. This is a good solution, except that you wonít have access to Stata in class or when you are home.

3) The option that offers the most convenience, but also costs the most, is for you to buy a license for Intercooled (IC) Stata, Version 13. Purchase a perpetual license for $189 (the 1 year license wonít serve you for long enough). If you have some extra cash, consider buying the Stata SE license, which is $395, but which allows larger data sets to be loaded and manipulated. The software comes with a small introduction to Stata book. Donít bother buying Stataís massive printed reference book collection for this class. I will teach you the Stata commands that you need to know, and the Stata online help is very good.

Note that the Graduate Student Computer Lab may run an earlier version of Stata. Different versions of Stata work pretty much the same way.


Students with Disabilities:

Students with Documented Disabilities: Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). Professional staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty dated in the current quarter in which the request is made. Students should contact the OAE as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. The OAE is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone: 723-1066, URL:          



This Course justifies an additional unit of credit, beyond what would be expected based on the typical assignment of class time and outside work. An additional unit represents, on average, 30 additional hours of work expected of a student during the quarter, devoted to homework and to the preparation of the studentís research presentation.


Computer Use Policy:

* Computer use by students during class is strictly limited to following along with the data analysis examples being presented by the professor.





Project 2 (Data analysis and interpretation)


4 homeworks, 10% each

Regular section participation


In-class presentation (data analysis of dataset of your own choosing) outline


In-class presentation (data analysis of dataset of your own choosing) actual presentation to class


Final Exam





Project and Reading Assignment Timeline




Class lecture Goals

READING (Readings in bold are required and will be discussed specifically in that class. Other readings are supplementary)



Sept 22

Introduction to Stata and Data Analysis Section




Hand out CPS HW #1


Sept 24

Basics of descriptive data analysis using STATA

Read Treimanís chapters 1-4. Read Rosenfeldís online Stata guide





Work on HW 1 and on using STATA









Sep 29

Observational Studies and their limitations

Freedman Ch 2, 4



Oct 1

Error and bias

Freedman Ch 6

Silver Ch1, 4

HW #1 due

Hand out HW#2



Stata, and HW 2









Oct 6

Probability sampling, Sample size and power, and standard errors

Freedman Ch 20;

read also Treiman Ch 9;

Rice, ch. 6



Oct 8

More on sample size and power.

Freedman Ch 21

Rice, p. 398-411




Work on STATA, discuss the issues in HWs 2 and 3









Oct 13

Introduction to regression with STATA

Freedman Chs 9, 10

Treiman, Ch 5-6

HW #2 Due

Hand out HW#3


Oct 15

More on regression with STATA, interpreting coefficients

Freedman, Ch 11;

Rice ch. 14




Work on STATA, discuss the issues in CPS HW #3









Oct 20

Problems with and difficulties in using regression, Graphing.

Freedman Ch 12




Oct 22

More limitations of regression analysis

Tufte, P. 1-87

Tufte, P. 90-190, Treiman chapter 10

HW #3 due

Hand out HW #4



Work on STATA









Oct 27

Proper and improper presentation of data; Regression analysis: residuals and outliers

The Jasso v. Udry debate is required reading:

1)Jasso's original article on coital frequency. 2) Kahn and Udry's critique. 3) Jasso's response

See also: Silver, Ch 2 and 6



Oct 29

Logistic regression

Treiman chapter 13

Rice p. 253-268




work on HW 4









Nov 3

Other topics, including logistic regression and the likelihood ratio test

Treiman p. 264-276;

Rice p. 253-259; 303-315


Nov 5

Other topics


HW #4 due







 Sunday, November 8



 Presentation Proposals Due


Nov 10

A little bit about Bayes

  "The Earth is Round" by Jacob Cohen (the Cohen article is required reading).

Silver Ch 8



Nov 12

Some additional, and advanced topics








Nov 17

Some additional, and advanced topics/ Student Presentations




Nov 19

Student Presentations









 Nov 24-28

Thanksgiving break









Dec 1

Student Presentations, and some Final Exam Review




Dec 3

Student Presentations, and some Final Exam Review













Final Exam


in class Final Exam at the regularly schedule time and place