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Research Guides


A brief guide to the open source statistical software, R.

Using R's Built-In Help

R comes with a built-in help function. Simply type a question mark followed by the name of the object or function you're having difficulty with, and the documentation about that object or function will appear. For example, ?hist will bring up the histogram documention, which includes information about the usage of histograms, the arguments that can be used to customize histograms, and examples of their use.  

Online Resources

Or Simply...

Try a Google search

Because R is open-source and free, you can find answers to nearly any question online, on various forums and other statistical or coding resources. A few quick tips:

• Generic seach terms: take out any terms that are specific to your particular data set - you'll get more results by searching "make a histogram from a data frame in R" than by searching "R histogram for height survey data in red with y-axis labels."

• Precise results: the danger of generic search terms is too generic search results. Be sure to double-check that your results actually help to solve your specific problem before spending time attempting to implement ultimately inapplicable code. 

• Pay attention to the skill level your results are meant for. Many sites are designed with beginning users in mind, but others may assume that you already have a certain skill set, or a certain package installed. Read through what you find before you begin to be sure you understand, and to save time later on. 

Helpful Books

While online resources really are better for learning R, there are also some books available: