Module 1: Introduction to R

Dates - Venue - Description - Target audience - Exam
Course prerequisites - Teacher - Course material - Fees - Enrol


October 5, 8, 19 and 22, 2015, from 5.30 pm tot 9 pm.


Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (FPPW):

Monday October 5 and 19: H.Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Ghent. pc room 2, first floor.
Thursday October 8 and 22: H. Dunantlaan 1, 9000 Ghent. pc room 1, first floor.


R is an environment for statistical computing and graphics, which is becoming increasingly popular as a tool to get insight in often complex data. While in some ways similar to other programming languages (such as C, Java and Perl), R is particularly suited for data analysis because ready-made functions are available for a wide variety of statistical (classical statistical tests, linear and nonlinear modeling, timeseries analysis, classification, clustering, ...) and graphical techniques.

The base R program can be extended with user-submitted packages, which means new techniques are often implemented in R prior to being available in other software. This is one of the reasons why R is becoming the de facto standard in certain fields such as bioinformatics (Bioconductor) and financial services.

This course introduces the use of the R environment for the implementation of data management, data exploration, basic statistical analysis and automation of procedures.

The course starts with a description of the R GUI, the use of the command line and an overview of basic data structures. The application of standard procedures to import data or to export results to external files will be illustrated.

Creation of new variables, subsetting, merging and stacking of data sets will be covered in the data management section. Exploration of the data by histograms, box plots, scatter plots, summary numbers, correlation coefficients and cross-tabulations will be performed.

Simple statistical procedures that will be covered are:

  • comparison of observed group means (t-test, ANOVA and their non-parametric versions) and proportions
  • test for independence in 2-way cross tables and linear regression (focusing on the implementation in R of the statistical methods that are the subject of other modules of the statistics course).

Finally, installing new packages and automation of analysis procedures will also be discussed.

Practical sessions and specific exercises will be provided to allow participants to practice their R skills in interaction with the teacher.

Target audience

This course targets professionals and investigators from diverse areas with little to no R-programming experience who wish to start using R for their data manipulation, data exploration or statistical analysis.


There is no exam connected to this module. Participants receive a certificate of attendance via e-mail at the end of the course.

To qualify for reimbursement from the UGent Doctoral Schools one must attend all classes. Additional conditions and procedure.

Course prerequisites

The course is open to all interested persons.

Knowledge of basic statistical concepts and experience with other programming languages are considered advantages, but not required for learning the R language.


Foto Joris MeysJoris Meys is a statistical consultant in the Biostatistics Department at the University of Ghent. He is the co-author (with Andrie de Vries) of 'R for Dummies' (Wiley, 2015).

Joris Meys is an accomplished R programmer, and produces R packages both for specific research projects and, via R-Forge, for more general application. His statistical expertise is in the areas of ecotoxicology, analysis of environmental data, clinical research and meta analysis.

Course material

Copies of slides.

Recommended but optional handbook:
"R for Dummies", J. Meys and A. de Vries, 2nd ed. (2015), Wiley, ISBN 978-1119055808.


Different prices apply, depending on your main type of employment.

EmploymentModule 1BookExam
Industry/Private sector1 325 30 n/a
Non-profit, government, university outside AUGent2 175 30 n/a
(Doctoral) student outside AUGent2 125 30 n/a

1 If three or more employees from the same company enrol simultaneously for this course a reduction of 10% on the module price is taken into account.

2 AUGent staff and AUGent doctoral students who pay through use of an SAP internal order/invoice can participate at these special rates.

Enrol for this course