Digital Education Resources - Vanderbilt Libraries Digital Lab

Digital Lab R Lessons

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About the lessons

R lessons are provided by the Digital Lab of the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries at Vanderbilt University. The Digital Lab provides regular lessons for R beginners with a variety of followup intermediate lessons. There is no cost associated with the lessons.

The beginners lessons are generally offered once per semester. See the schedule below for session details.

Each lesson includes of a series of videos with a practice scripts and homework assignments. The live sessions present the lesson content and provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions.

The lessons are part of a free, online learning system called CodeGraf. You are welcome to work through these lessons or any of the other lesson modules available in CodeGraf on your own at any time (no registration required). To explore all of the lesson modules that are available, visit the CodeGraf landing page.

The Digital Lab also provides lessons for learning Python and getting started with GitHub in a similar format.

Archive of past lessons

Beginners Lessons - Fall 2023

Time: Wednesdays from 1:00-2:00 PM Central (US) Time (starting August 3).

Venue Synchronously on Zoom. Registration link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Zoom session.

Instructor: Steve Baskauf. Email to arrange a time to talk.

I will be presenting the lessons using RStudio in the cloud using the Posit Cloud platform. It behaves almost exactly like RStudio desktop but does not require any installation. Create an account at before the first lesson to save time, then go through the Posit Cloud quickstart lesson if you haven’t used RStudio before. It includes 8 minutes of videos.

You are welcome to use desktop RStudio if you already have it installed, but we will not be spending time going over the installation process. There are some installation videos that you are welcome to watch if you want to do an installation yourself. Stop on the page after the Installing Anaconda section.

If you have never programmed before, I recommend that you work through two optional lessons on your own: terminology (18 min) and programming environments (50 min). I will assume that you are familiar with the concepts and terms covered in these lessons as we work through the actual R lessons.

Working session date Lesson Topic Web pages (times are total video length)
Aug 30 1 Basics: Vectors and vectorized computing, packages lesson videos (45 min)
Sep 6 2 Lists and dataframes, tibbles lesson videos (40 min)
Sep 13 3 Missing data, basic stats, basic plots lesson videos (47 min)
Sep 28 (Thursday) 4 Tidy Data and basic data wrangling lesson videos (31 min)
Oct 4 5 More data wrangling and piping lesson videos (45 min)

Data visualization with ggplot (Intermediate topic) - Fall 2023

Time: Wednesdays from 11:00 AM-noon Central (US) Time (starting October 25).

Venue Synchronously on Zoom and in-person in the Digital Lab, 4th floor Central Library. You should complete the Zoom registration even if you plan to attend in person. Registration link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Zoom session.

Instructor: Steve Baskauf. Email to arrange a time to talk.

This hands-on lesson series will quickly get you started using the R library ggplot to create data visualizations. These lessons assume that you have a basic familiarity with R and RStudio. However, those with no background can still participate by trying and modifying the provided code examples. To visualize your own data, you will want to take the beginner lessons during the first half of the semester or work through them on your own.

The session topics are subject to change.

Working session date Lesson Topics Web pages
Oct 25 1 Grammar of Graphics, 3 common geoms, formatting lesson videos (25 min)
Nov 1 2 controlling asthetics like color and size, labels lesson webpage
Nov 8 3 stats: binning, distributions, error bars lesson webpage
Nov 15 4 displaying complex data: arranging plots, grouping, and facets lesson webpage
Nov 29 5 maps, coordinate systems, axis transformations lesson webpage
Dec 6 6 interactive ggplots with Shiny lesson webpage

R Resources

Here’s a page of R resources that include a number of online lessons for R beginners.

O’Reilly for Higher Education books and videos (Vanderbilt sign-in required)

ggplot lessons

ICPSR data example

Bivariate tests example code - Requires installation of the MVN library lesson slides

Other sources of R resources on Vanderbilt’s campus

Data Science Institute (DSI)

Research IT

Questions? contact Steve Baskauf

Revised 2023-08-11

Questions? Contact us

License: CC BY 4.0.
Credit: "Vanderbilt Libraries Digital Lab -"