What They Forgot to Teach You About R

The stuff you need to know about R, besides data analysis.


Jennifer Bryan

Jim Hester

Shannon Pileggi

E. David Aja

1 What They Forgot to Teach You About R


This book is a work in progress.

1.1 About

This book focuses on content intrinsically related to the infrastructure surrounding data analysis in R, but does not delve into the data analysis itself.

  1. A holistic workflow provides guidance on project-oriented workflows that address common sources of friction in data analysis.

  2. Personal R administration empowers R users to confidently manage their R programming environment.

  3. All is Fail showcases functions, options, and RStudio capabilities for debugging code, facilitating more efficient resolution of errant code.

1.2 Audience

The target learner for this material:

  • Has a moderate amount of R and RStudio experience.
  • Is largely self-taught.
  • Suspects they have drifted into some idiosyncratic habits that may slow them down or make their work products more brittle.
  • Is interested in (re)designing their R lifestyle, to be more effective and more self-sufficient.

1.3 Mindset

Tweet from Greg Wilson (2018)

(One of the things research programmers struggle with is the transition from exploration to infrastructure, i.e., from “coding to figure out what the problem is” to “I’m building a reusable tool”. Habits from the first are often carried over to the second.) 2/N

As a data analyst grows in their skills, eventually the infrastructure surrounding the analysis will become an important catalyst for the reproducibility and longevity of analysis artifacts. Yet the analyst is unlikely to have benefited from any formal training or mentorship related to these topics, and may find themselves exploring arenas typically associated with other domains like software engineering.

With this book, we hope to help you gracefully fall into this gap. Don’t fret over past mistakes, but raise the bar for new work. Small but meaningful incremental changes add up over time, transforming your R quality of life.

1.4 Origin

The initial impetus for creating this book was a two-day hands-on workshop first instructed in 2018. The workshop materials and this book will likely continue to both overlap and diverge in content.

1.5 Workshops

Upcoming and past offerings:

The workshops may include substantial components that draw on other materials, such as:

Creative Commons License
What They Forgot to Teach You About R by Jennifer Bryan, Jim Hester, Shannon Pileggi, E. David Aja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.