A student asked how to work a problem with the sample distribution of Pearson’s r using a calculator alone. It involves using a z-table, but so many tools are available to make the work easier – even some accessible from a smart phone with a web browser. More on that another time.

For those with access to a spreadsheet: Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice or LibreOffice Calc, Kingsoft Office, Gnumeric and Google Sheets offer a wealth of statistical tools.

Click here to download a spreadsheet that solves the problem on page 319 of the Lane textbook and Exercise 2 on page 324 of Lane.

If you do not have spreadsheet software, try looking with Excel Online or Google Sheets. (Note: you will need either a free Microsoft (Excel) or Gmail (Google) account to make a copy and edit the file, otherwise you can only view.)

The main functions are:

FISHER(r value), which transforms the correlation coefficient into a normal variable

NORMSDIST(Z-value), which returns the cumulative distribution for the standard normal distribution with mean = 0 and standard deviation = 1

NORMDIST(X-value, Mean, Std.Dev,1), which returns the cumulative distribution for the normal distribution with mean = Mean and standard deviation = Std.Dev.

Computers make the mechanics of statistics easy, so we can focus on understanding, analysis and interpretation!