Online R resources for Beginners

Search - Online books - Videos - Podcasts - Websites - Mailing lists - Script editors, GUIs and IDEs - Contact

Intro R
If you want to learn R then naturally the absolute best option is to get yourself a copy of Introductory R. That annoyingly transparent piece of self-promotion aside,  there are many resources out there for the R novice, including some online books, a great many video tutorials and a lot of other helpful websites. Quite a lot of this is aimed at people with either specialist statistical or programming knowledge so you might have to look for a while to find material at the level that you need but a bit of persistence should pay off.


The big dog for this is rseek. This search allows you to search, among other things, the R help files, the R-help discussion forums, a bunch of blogs, and a great deal of other R documentation. It also has tabbed searches so you can get results from just one category. It's brilliant. Created by Sasha Goodman - thanks.

Online books

The Undergraduate Guide to R by Trevor Martin

An Introduction to R by W.N. Venables and D.M. Smith (2004). This is downloadable from the CRAN R manuals page.

The CRAN contributed documentation page has a lot of useful material. Most of this is written for statisticians and/or programmers so is mostly fairly technical. Some of the books are:

R for Beginners by Emmanuel Paradis.

Using R for Data Analysis and Graphics: Introduction, Code and Commentary by JH Maindonald

Simple R - Using R for Introductory Statistics
by John Verzani

The R Guide by W.J. Owen

An Introduction to R by Longhow Lam

IPSUR - Introduction to Probability and Statistics Using R by G Jay Kerns is a full length (400 page) textbook designed for statistics students but released under a GNU free documentation license. It's designed to be installed as an R package - follow the instructions here.

Learning statistics with R: A tutorial for psychology students and other beginners by Daniel Navarro is a full-length book aimed at psychologists and is available as a pdf.

R Programming Wikibook: comprehensive and detailed but assumes a fairly high degree of technical knowledge

The R Inferno: Common errors and misconceptions about R programming and analysis, written by Pat Burns in the style of Dante's Inferno. As a beginner you probably don't need to use this until you get into trouble, but it's worth knowing that it's there. Downloadable as a free pdf.


Jeromy Anglim's blog has a very useful listing of video tutorials that were available for R as of May 2010.

Anthony Damico has ninety-two (as of the 16th March 2013) video tutorials, each two minutes long, starting with the basics of R and going through to some advanced programming topics.

Laura Suttle has an hour's worth of videos on R basics such as using scripts

The youtube LearnR channel has a whole set of video tutorials for Data science in R


The R podcast is available here: some of the episodes are specifically designed for beginners.


Impatient R Useful tutorial on R basics by Pat Burns. Includes lots of links and good advice on how the whole language works

tryR Website with online tutorials in the R basics. Walks you through the fundamentals of the language.

R Graph Gallery  Has a wide variety of graphs drawn in R, each with the code used to produce it. If you want to draw a graph you can look through the gallery, find a graph like the one you want to use and adapt the code for your own purposes.

Stack Overflow  A website set up for programmers to ask questions about how to solve specific problems. Has a lot of material on R and a good place to look if you’ve come up against some apparently insurmountable difficulty

Crossvalidated  A sister site to Stack Overflow that deals more with statistical issues rather than programming ones.

TalkStats A website for discussion of statistics that has a specific R forum.

R-bloggers A website that aggregates articles from over 400 separate blogs that deal with R. High traffic but something that should interest almost anyone.

Cookbook for R Worked examples and with the code explained. Great for beginners.

Learning R A blog with lots of useful articles, mostly about the ggplot2 package. Hasn't been updated for a while but still useful.

Revolutions A blog maintained by the staff of a company called Revolution Analytics. Lots on data mining and analysing big datasets, but also some useful material for beginners if you look.

Mailing lists

R-help mailing list. This is a very high traffic and high standard mailing list. Fools are not suffered gladly: I strongly recommend that you read and digest the posting guide before asking anything.

For biologists there are some more specialist mailing lists for subjects like ecology, epidemiology, genetics and phylogenetics.There are also a number of  - for example, there is an ecology list, an epidemiology list, a genetics list and a phylogenetics list.

R script editors, GUIs and IDEs

Not really resources for learning R but worth knowing about.

RStudio An integrated development environment for R, works on all platforms.
Tinn-R A script editor for R, popular with windows users. This page has a good guide to installing and using it.

R-Commander Also known as Rcmndr. A graphical user interface for R. Lots of information on the author's web page.

RKWard An open source graphical user interface developed for Mac, Windows and Linux.


This page maintained by Rob Knell. Comments, questions, suggestions for links just drop me a line