R-SSIG: An R interest group for University of Florida social scientists

R is known for its large and ever growing users community. This has generated a huge amount of learning resources available online over the years — including books, tutorials, Youtube videos, slides, blog posts, Q&A websites, full online courses and workshops, and more. This is obviously a good thing. In practice, however, the R student soon realizes that such wealth of resources may be both a blessing and a curse. (Continues after figure)

R online resources

Social scientists at the beginning of their R learning curve, in particular, are often faced with a dauntingly large and disorderly volume of R resources popping up at their first Google search. Many of these resources come from very diverse disciplinary backgrounds, which in some ways is good too, but is also initially very confusing for researchers with a social sciences focus.

R users at the University of Florida are trying to make sense of this host of resources by building a local users community to coordinate R learning and teaching activities on campus. The effort spans the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) and other UF areas.

A group of faculty and graduate students in the social sciences, including myself, are participating in the effort by organizing R-SSIG, an R interest group in the social sciences. The group currently gathers about eighty between faculty, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students from different UF departments, including Sociology and Criminology & Law (my own department), Anthropology, Geography, Psychology, Political Science, and Economics.

The general goal of the group is to coordinate social science faculty and students who can help each other to effectively learn R, and to focus on the most appropriate R facilities for their kind of research. The group currently operates mainly through Canvas, the UF e-learning system, but we’ll launch face-to-face initiatives as well starting in Fall 2017, including a series of introductory workshops hosted at the UF Marston Science Library.

A lot of credit for this type of initiatives should go to my colleagues Dan Maxwell (Informatics Librarian at the UF Marston Science Library) and Denis Valle (Assistant Professor at the UF School of Forest Resources and Conservation), who have pioneered efforts to support and coordinate the statistics and R community at UF.

To know more or join the group, feel free to contact me here.

R-SSIG: An R interest group for University of Florida social scientists
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