[Taxacom] Learning R fast: Any recommendations?

Mario Schädel mario.schaedel at gmail.com
Thu Apr 1 05:29:22 CDT 2021

Dear Jorge,

your struggles are completely understandable. People have different 
learning speeds for different tasks. Before I started out with R, 
everything that required more than clicking buttons and inserting 
formulas in spreadsheets seemed like witchcraft for me. So, naturally it 
took me a bit longer to understand the concept of writing in a 
programming language. I started out with a course on Coursera but I 
ditched it after same lessons because it was going a bit too fast and 
all the examples were from an economic background and I could not really 
relate to them.

Then, after some time I discovered Coding Club (University of Edinburgh, 
free and open source (except for the quiz results), 
https://ourcodingclub.github.io/), which helped me a lot. They have 
great tutorials from absolute beginner level up to things like efficient 
data manipulation and different types of modelling. Plus, all their 
examples are from different fields of ecology - no car brands and stock 
price datasets. I know you were specifically asking for a video tutorial 
series but I think you should consider text based tutorials as well. 
 From my experience, text based tutorials are almost ideal to learn the 
basics. You get new information in small portions and before you 
continue with the next step you have all the time you need to play 
around with the code that you copy-pasted into your editor. And this is 
something I highly suggest: play around with the sample code, rename 
variables, modify the code until it doesn't work and think about why it 
didn't work. They also offer quizzes along with their tutorials and you 
can request a certificate at any point, which I think also helps to stay 
on track. I completed all of their their classes and had a very nice 
experience on the way.

I hope this will help you. Don't give up on it, you don't need a proper 
background to get good at it.

Best wishes,


On 4/1/21 6:17 AM, Martin Fikáček via Taxacom wrote:
> Hola Jorge,
> in my experience, R learning goes always hard if you keep it as "learning R
> basics", "learning an R syntax", without any specific goal. It is like
> learning a new language: if you just decide to learn Japanese, you will be
> struggling.
> For me, and in my experience also for most students I ever met, it works
> much better to "learn R" as a by-product of trying to run some real
> analysis in the R environment. Set your goal - like I want to take my data
> X and do this and that with them. In this way, you will narrow down the
> things you need to learn, and you will work with real (your) data, so you
> will understand more easily what the commands are doing or what you are
> doing wrong.
> In other words, set your goal in the way: I want to learn how to buy
> breakfast in Japanese. This is a much smaller goal, so you make it more
> easily. Naturally, you will not be able to discuss philosophy in Japanese,
> but by learning simple breakfast conversation, you will also learn some
> basic principles of the language you may later use when you will "widen"
> your conversation scope to other topics. Same with R - if you learn how to
> do one thing, you will as a by-product learn some basics of the syntax and
> basic logic of R scripting which will make it possible to expand to other
> tasks in R later.
> Martin
> čt 1. 4. 2021 v 12:08 odesílatel Jorge A. Santiago-Blay via Taxacom <
> taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> napsal:
>> Dear Colleagues:
>> For over two years, I have been attending R courses and, in my opinion, I
>> have failed to learn R. Instead of blaming the professors, I feel the
>> problem may be that I do not have the necessary background to learn R
>> and/or, thanks to the insight that a kind professor offered me today,
>> learning R through a class where topics must be ''covered'' by a certain
>> time (and good luck if one may not have ''gotten it'') may *not* be the
>> best way for me to learn R.
>> Question: Can you recommend free videos available on the web (there are
>> oodles) that have helped *you*, or people you know, learn R? Ideally, I
>> would like to learn R as fast as I can.
>> If you have constructive recommendations, please send them directly to me:
>> blayjorge at gmail.com . Thank you and apologies for potential duplicate
>> emails.
>> Sincerely,
>> Jorge
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