January 31, 2022
Starting your pubic health data science journey through learning R can feel intimidating. There are many resources out there to get started, so don’t be intimidated! In this blog I share my favorite resources for epidemiologists and public health professionals looking to start learning R.
Learning R for Epidemiologists
I’ll be honest, the thought of learning R has always intimidated me as a public health professional. When I first started learning coding, I began in Stata. Stata is one of the easiest commercial coding languages to learn for public health professionals, but it has its limits.
R is a popular, open-source programming language for statistical computing and graphics. R is commonly used with RStudio which provides a coding environment for managing variables, functions, and your coding log. There are many benefits to R: it’s free, it has a very large range of functions and open-source packages, and it is widely used in other fields outside of public health. Using R can accelerate the public health field because its easy to automate and integrate across many different software and resources.
Learning any new programming language comes with a learning curve. So here are my 5 best resources for epidemiologists learning R to accelerate their public health career!
1. The Epidemiologist R Handbook
Created in 2020 by epidemiologists, for epidemiologists, the Epidemiologist R Handbook strives to assist epidemiologists learning R by providing applied R examples addressing common public health problems, serving as a quick reference manual, and assisting epidemiologists transitioning to R. They offer a suite of free datasets to use as you learn R, and even provide an offline version of the handbook in areas with low internet-connectivity.
2. Swirl for R Interactive Learning
Swirl teaches you R programming and data science skills in the R console interactively. After installing RStudio, use the following code to get started:
install.packages("swirl") library("swirl") swirl()
At the time of writing they offer beginning programming in R, intermediate and advanced data science courses. Instructors can even use Swirl in conjunction with class lectures to help their students learn R. Data science courses in Coursera also use Swirl. Visit their website to get started with Swirl!
3. r4stats Books
Bob Muenchen created r4stats.com to help people learn to use R. His books have been particularly useful to my journey in learning R. He has written books on R for SAS and SPSS Users (of which an earlier version is available for free), and R for Stata Users. Earlier versions of each book are available at a reduced cost, although the latest versions will be the most up to date with each software.
4. Learning Biostatistics in R with Kaggle
Learning biostatistics while learning to code in R? Kaggle offers a no-setup, customizable, Jupyter Notebooks environment where users can submit their own content to share freely.
Ruslan Klymentiev created a 3-part biostatistics in R notebook which provides practice datasets, code, and biostatistics content in order to understand the code. I found this really helpful in linking my epidemiology and biostatistics course content with my programming skills.
If you’re a student who is looking to accelerate their public health career, check out my epidemiology and biostatistics tutoring for individuals.
5. Twitter for Epidemiologists Learning R
Interested in learning tips and tricks for R, but not ready to dive in yet? Follow the following Twitter accounts for tips, shortcuts, and new open-source packages that are helpful for epidemiologists using R for data science:
- Follow Us! @aenglellc
- R Function A Day @rfunctionaday
- R for Data Science @rstats4ds
- #epitwitter is also a favorite of mine for all things epidemiology
I hope these resources for learning R for epidemiologists are helpful in accelerating your public health career trajectory.
If you’re interested in learning more about Aengle can help you with R coding, data analysis and management, learn more about our services by clicking the button below!