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Indian Pediatrics 1999;36: 1077

Multimedia Review 

Arcus Quickstat. A major statistical package with good graphics. ISBN 0582-945-65-8. Authors: Dr. lain E. Buchan, 1, Westbury Barns, West End, Ashwell Herts SG7 5PJ, UK. e-mail: iain@camcode.com or ieb21@cam.ac.uk. Distributor: Research Solu-tions, 124 Cambridge Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 4ZS. e-mail: Research@logo.com. Hardware and Software requirements: Intel 386 bases PC system, Microsoft windows 3.1 or 95 or NT. Price: 249 Single User; 650 5 User. License. Upgrades normally free. Members citing this review are entitled to a special discounted price of 99 by contacting Dr. Buchan directly.

Conducting complex statistical analyses has become an integral part of current medical research. Many researchers in our setting have felt handicapped by the paucity of expert biostatistical advice and easy to understand legal softwares for conducting these analyses. Arcus Quickstat, an accessible and intuitive statistical package, was developed precisely with user in mind.

Arcus Quickstat is a major statistical tool but has a remarkable user-friendly feel. The package starts wtih an Excel-like spreadsheet. The level of sophistication of this software is on a par with standard statistical packages like SPSS, Systat or Minitab. It includes facilities for standard parametric and non-parametric analyses, univariate and multivariate regression and correlation, survival analysis, and meta-anlaysis. Arcus uses up-to-date computational methods (with full referencing) to achieve robust solutions. It scores over some standard  stastical packages by providng easy computation of several newer techniques, for example, in meta-anlaysis. The host of quick to use facilities rank among its best aspect_for example, "number needed to treat", t tests from summary data, derivation of series of random numbers, Fisher's or Gart exact test for 22 tables, power calculations, and many more. However, specialist statisticians may find the absence of facility for interactive programming a minor irritant.

The output from the analyses is saved in a report, which can be imported into Word in rtf format. There is also a useful graphing function, which produces graphs as Windows metafiles that may be pasted directly into Windows word processing or presentation packages, where they can be further refined if required. Arcus does not assume statistical knowledge. A beginner can call up advice on experimental design and anlaysis from the on-line integrated help system. Results are in plain language and your data are easy to manage. Even guidance is available for interpretation of the "results". As an added incentive, interactive help from the author is available through the web site "discussion forums". To prevent any "mishap", the package warns you that it is not intended to replace statisticians and encourages you to seek expert help, particularly in the outlined difficult areas. Arcus can also be customized to the requirements of a department of institution. The presentation of results is based upon templates which can be edited.

Arcus is highly recommended for the current era medical researcher. To overcome the high cost barrier of legal software, it is being made available at a heavily discounted price for the readers of Indian Pediatrics. For those with access to the Internet, a time limited but otherwise fully functional trial version is available at http://www.camcode.com/arcus.html.


H.P.S. Sachdev,
Professor and Incharge,
Division of Clinical Epidemiology,
Department of Pediatrics,
Maulana Azad Medical College,
New Delhi 110 002, India.
E-mail: jiap@ren.nic.in.


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