“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

— Carl Sagan

R is made for scientists pursuing discoveries; discoveries that cannot be solved with human intuition alone. R is capable of data analysis in nearly any form. It is an open-source project meaning it can be extended and fixed by countless individuals around the world. It is almost always on the cutting edge of new techniques and methods. Yet, many are hesitant to learn to use it.

This is probably due to the high learning curve. Although challenging, with a little guidance, the journey in learning R programming can be made much simpler. It is for this exact reason this book was written.

Although there are many books and websites devoted to R, I’ve noticed that a simple introduction—without excessive information on things that are unlikely to be used—was lacking, particularly for the health, behavioral, and social sciences. This book began as I, working as a data science and statistical consultant, was trying to help my clientele with quantitative research across these fields. Three main reasons kept me repeatedly recommending my clients to use R: the replicability of the R centered workflow, the powerful and beautiful plotting capabilities, and the simple—yet extensive—data management/analysis tools.

This book is for beginners in R; especially those in health, behavioral and social sciences. I picked those fields specifically because much of their research overlaps in data types, methodologies employed, and in hypotheses tested. Both exploratory and confirmatory methods will be highlighted given their importance in these fields, among many others.

I’ll introduce you to many ways in which R can be used in your work. You’ll find that it can help in all facets of your data analysis and communication, while improving your replicability. In the long run, taking some time to learn a new tool will save you time, energy, and probably most importantly, frustration. When a researcher is frustrated, it becomes so easy to overlook important features.

We will quickly, and succinctly, introduce the newest, easiest, and most understandable ways of working with your data. To do this, we will have three main parts: 1) working with and simple analyses of your data, 2) modeling your data, and 3) more advanced techniques to help your workflow.

Part I

  1. Chapter 1: The basics of the language
  2. Chapter 2: Working with and Cleaning Your Data
  3. Chapter 3: Understanding your data (summary statistics, ggplot2)

Part II

  1. Chapter 4: Basic Statistical Analyses (ANOVA, Linear Regression)
  2. Chapter 5: Generalized Linear Models
  3. Chapter 6: Mulilevel Modeling
  4. Chapter 7: Other Modeling Techniques

Part III

  1. Chapter 8: Advanced data manipulation
  2. Chapter 9: Advanced plotting
  3. Chapter 10: Where to go from here

At the end of the book, you should be able to: 1) use R to perform your data cleaning and data analyses and 2) understand online helps (e.g., so your potential in R becomes nearly limitless.

Download R and RStudio

To begin, you will need to download the R software and then the RStudio software R is the brains and RStudio1 is an “IDE” (something that helps us work with R much more easily).

Once both are installed (helps on installing the software can be found on,, and you are good to go. The remainder of the book will be about actually using it.


  1. Get the free version of Rstudio. Believe me, it doesn’t feel like it should be free software.

  2. Note that to return to Tyson’s blog, you can click here