SSCC News May 2021

Upcoming Training

We’ve seen a substantial decrease in the number of students taking SSCC’s training during the COVID-19 pandemic. We get it: a person can only take so much Zoom. But we’re also seeing a corresponding increase in the number of graduate students asking fundamental questions because they don’t have the “data wrangling” skills needed to put real-world data in a form that can be usefully analyzed. That’s not a great thing to discover at the start of a research project!

We’ll do one more round of online training in Stata and R, starting on May 17th. But [August details] we’ll be teaching in person again, and we’ll use big lecture halls so we can teach all the people who missed our training last year as well as this year’s incoming graduate students. Then we’ll teach the same courses again during the fall semester for those who can’t come back to Madison early.

Not sure if you need our training? Consider whether your research might lead you into a situation like the following, and how you’d handle it.

You’re working with panel data like the NLSY, which gives annual incomes over many years. You know that to compare incomes between years you need to adjust for inflation. You’ve looked up the formula and you’ve downloaded the inflation data you need. But how do you combine a time series of inflation numbers with panel data? This is just one example of the kinds of tasks you’ll need to be able to carry out to do research with real-world data.

If your answer was “I don’t know” then we invite you to attend SSCC’s training. If your answer involved copying and pasting between spreadsheets we especially invite you to attend SSCC’s training. A right answer would be to use a package like Stata or R and a “merge” or “join” command: it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s reproducible, and it eliminates all possibility of human error. We’d love to teach you how.

Stata 17 Released!

Stata 17 has been released, and it’s a particularly exciting update. What we’re most looking forward to is the new tools for creating customized publication-quality tables. It looks like they’ll replace user-written tools like esttab and outreg2 and do much more. Some other highlights:

  • Even more integration with Python. Put Python code in your do files, or Stata code in your Python scripts. Create Jupyter Notebooks (they’re great for teaching) that run Stata code.
  • New commands specifically for running Difference-in-Differences and DDD models.
  • Significant speed improvements for some commonly used commands like sort and collapse, as well as for mixed models.
  • Connect directly to databases using jdbc.

[Availability for PCs] Stata 17 will be installed on SSCC’s servers as part of our summer tech update, so look for it in August.

Cybersecurity Training for All Faculty and Staff

UW Madison has announced new Cybersecurity Awareness Training that every faculty and staff member must compete by June 30, 2021. To kick off the training you should receive a message from You may think that these messages are phishing attempts, but please know that these messages are legitimate and Drip7 is the contracted training vendor that UW Madison is using for the cybersecurity awareness training. More detailed information about the cybersecurity awareness training can be found on the UW Madison Information Technology website.

Blackboard Collaborate No Longer Available After 06/30/21

The University of Wisconsin System (UWS) recently concluded its Web Conferencing RFP Project, and will not be renewing its contract with Blackboard Collaborate. The web conferencing tool will no longer be available to any UWS institution, including UW-Madison, after June 30, 2021. UW System has sent a Letter of Intent to negotiate a contract with Zoom for all UWS institutions going forward. We strongly recommend that faculty and staff begin implementing Zoom in place of Blackboard Collaborate (if you have not done so already).  Some time ago we sent out a message warning users not to use Zoom due to various security flaws that had been found.  Those security flaws have been corrected and the university has deemed Zoom sufficiently secure enough to endorse.  If you need help accessing Zoom or have questions about using Zoom in place of Blackboard Collaborate, there are a number of KnowledgeBase articles available to support your use of Zoom including: Overview of Zoom for Instructors, Overview of the Canvas Integration and How to Archive Zoom Recordings in Kaltura (since recordings in Zoom are not automatically archived). Ongoing updates about the transition will be posted on the UW Madison knowledge base page.