Analysis of Questionnaire Data with R, an interview with author Bruno Falissard

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Bruno-FalissardToday we share with you an interview with Bruno Falissard author of the book Analysis of Questionnaire Data with R. Bruno is a psychiatrist with other books in his portfolio. This is his first English and R related book. Enjoy the interview!

F4S: Hi Bruno. Please, give us a brief introduction about yourself.

I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist, professor in biostatistics (my first training was in mathematics) and head of a lab working on “public health in mental health”. I live in Paris and my project is to develop mixed methods researches in the field of mental health.

F4S: How did you get involved with open source software?

Open source software are particularly crucial in statistics, and this explains in part the success of R.

First, it is possible to verify how the routines do the estimations and this is essential in terms of quality control (statisticians are responsible for the results they propose).

Second, with traditional software it is necessary to wait years and even decades before a new
promising approach be implemented and usable by everyone. Now it takes a few minutes and there is no more censorship about what will be or will not be implemented. Finally, since the software is free students can learn it easily and moreover they know that they will be able to use it in all situations.

F4S: Tell us the story behind your book Analysis of Questionnaire Data with R.

I have already written several books but always in French. I had for a long time the idea to propose a book in english but there was no opportunity. Rob Calver (Senior Editor in Chapman & Hall) contacted me one day to write something about R and we met during a congress of the international biometric society in Dublin. We discussed about a possible title and rapidly we found that the analysis of questionnaire data was indeed interesting.

F4S: Who will benefit from reading it?

Basically students in human and social sciences (economics, sociology, epidemiology, market research, psychology, etc.) who have to analyse questionnaire data. They can be up to PhD students. The book is focused on the practice of R and on the intuitive understanding of statistical tools. There are no mathematics. This was by choice.

F4S: How will you describe your experience writing the book?

This is always an enormous work. You have to isolate yourself during more than a thousand hours. This has a major impact on your professional and personal life. In compensation you learn a lot. Since many people (hopefully !) will use the book to do their researches, you are highly responsible to write things which are correct (of course) but also which will be understood correctly. This force you to be very clear with all what you write and thus to understand it in depth.

F4S: Have you published other FLOSS related books?

No, this is my first one.

F4S: Do you have plans for other books?

Once you have just finished writing a book most often you cannot imagine to write sooner or later another one !

But nevertheless I think I will try to propose to an editor something dealing with the question of integration of qualitative and quantitative approaches in social and human sciences.

F4S: Which projects, books, blogs or sites related to open source software for science can you recommend?

Many scientists use statistics and indeed if you are looking for a statistical software try R:

F4S: Where people can contact you?

With pleasure, yes.

F4S: Thank you Bruno for allowing us to share your work with our readers.

Note: If you liked this interview you can Flattr it at the top of the post!

Analysis of Questionnaire Data with R

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