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Installing R and R Studio

We encourage students to use R for conducting their data analysis. R is a free language and environment for conducting statistical computing and creating graphics. In addition to being free, R has several advantages over other statistics programs like SPSS.

Firstly, R can be used to create all the figures that you need for a scientific report (please never put SPSS figures in a report). Secondly, it is much more flexible than SPSS, with both an in-built library of functions for conducting analyses, creating figures, transforming data and a host of other tasks you may need to perform, and a set of user contributed packages that expand on this library. Thirdly, R allows you to write your own functions and code to perform even more custom analyses.

To get started with R you first need to install what is often referred to as Base R. R is available on Mac OS X, Windows and a variety of UNIX platforms and can be downloaded from the Comprehensive R Archive Network. If you are using a Mac or Windows system, just use the appropriate links above and follow the instructions to download and install R.

RStudio like R is another piece of free open source software. It provides some additional features and an interface to make using Base R a bit easier. You can download and install RStudio for Mac OSX, Windows and Linux systems for free by going to the RSudio website, and following the instructions for the free version.

In the following chapters we provide several tutorials to introduce you to some basic aspects of using R and help you to get started on your data analysis. A good resource for learning R is the textbook ‘Yarr: The Pirates Guide to R’ by Nathaniel Phillips.