But MINITAB is not the only computer program that can be used for simulation, nor is it the program of choice for professional simulators. Virtually any statistical package -- SPSS, SAS, SYSTAT, Statview, DataDesk -- can be used for simulations, and each has some advantages and disadvantages. For all its strengths as a teaching tool, MINITAB is not often viewed as a serious tool for advanced statistical analysis in social research because it is slower than others, lacks many of the features of advanced packages, and may not be as precise. However, for the kinds of exercises described in this workbook, MINITAB is an excellent choice.
In order to do these exercises, all you need to know is how to install and start the MINITAB program. This information can be found in the manual that comes with the program. The exercises are "machine independent" -- we do not describe them in terms of any particular operating system or machine configuration. The exercises don't assume any prior knowledge or use of the MINITAB language, although that would be extremely helpful. We encourage you to work through the tutorial in the manual that comes with the program.
We hope that the exercises given here will provide you with a solid and interesting introduction to computer simulation for social research. We believe that you will find that simulation is an important tool for increasing you understanding of social research methodology.