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Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

2nd Edition

Introduction to R

May 21st-25th, 2018, Barcelona (Spain)

Introduction to R

The aim of this course is to give an introduction to R addressed to people that has never used R. By the end of the course, the participants should be able to do the following in R:

  • Import / export data-bases.
  • Manage data sets.
  • Carry out basic statistic analyses with R.
  • Draw high quality graphs.
  • Program specific functions.

Guided practice with R – Students are encouraged to bring a dataset with them along with a “previously completed” statistical analysis or graphic. Ideally something fairly introductory and simple from the student’s own field of practice that you’ve worked with in Excel, SAS, or elsewhere. We will use last lesson session to review all the steps to ensure students can load, check, tidy data and then perform the basic statistics or generate the graphs common in their respective disciplines. This time also usually provides opportunity to troubleshoot and learn to navigate web resources to find solutions to errors. Extra datasets will be available for students that prefer not to bring their own work or who want extra practice at specific skills.


Centre de Restauració i Interpretació Paleontològica (CRIP)

C/ Mestre J. Lladós, 1
08781 Els Hostalets de Pierola, Barcelona (Spain)

How to get there




35 hours on-site.

This course is equivalent to 2 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) at the Life Science Zurich Graduate School.

The recognition of ECTS by other institutions depends on each university or school.


Places are limited to 20 participants and will be occupied by strict registration order.

Participants who have completed the course will receive a certificate at the end of it.


Ashton Drew instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Ashton Drew
KDV Decision Analysis LLC
United States of America


Ana Rosa Gómez-Cano coordinator at Transmitting Science

Dr. Ana Rosa Gómez-Cano
Transmitting Science

Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno instructor at Transmitting Science

Dr. Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno
Transmitting Science


All participants must bring their own personal laptop (Windows, Macintosh) with current versions of R and R Studio pre-installed. If you have any problem installing them, please contact the course coordinator.


Monday, May 21st, 2018.

  • Orientation to R and R Studio.
  • Introduction to R programming language.
    • Basic data objects: Values, vectors, data frames, lists.
    • Programming syntax.
    • Packages and libraries.
    • Working directory and environments.
    • Comments, indents, and other good practice.
  • Loading data into R.
    • Reading xlsx, txt, and csv files.
    • Quick summary commands to check data quality.
    • Quick plot commands to check data quality.
  • Reproducible Research Methods in R.
    • Orientation to R Markdown.
  • Exercise: Load and tidy some data within R Markdown.

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018.

  • Restructuring data.
    • Adding, deleting, renaming variables.
    • Changing long to short format (and vice versa).
    • Joining data frames.
    • Subsetting data.
  • Conditional programming.
    • Logical operators.
    • If else statements.
    • For loops.
  • Exercise: Load and tidy a species and a habitat dataset, join to create a single species-habitat dataframe, then split into four tables by taxa.

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018.

  • Plotting with ggplot2.
    • Brief intro to base and lattice as plotting alternatives.
    • Overview of common specialize plotting packages.
    • Overview of ggplot2 graphic concepts and syntax.
  • Creating and customizing plots.
    • Adjusting labels, colors, and shapes.
    • Using groups and handling legends.
    • Integrate data from multiple sources.
  • Handling data from spatial data objects.
    • Load and view a raster data file.
    • Load and view a vector data file.
    • Summarize and manipulate the data frame component of spatial data object.
    • Export updated spatial data frame.
  • Exercise: Load a spatial polygon dataset, explore data and generate summary graphs of data, modify dataframe within spatial data object.

Thursday, May 24th, 2018.

  • Exploratory data analysis with R.
    • Regression packages and simple procedures.
    • Clustering packages and simple procedures.
    • Probability distributions.
  • Writing custom functions.
  • Exercise Option 1A: Load and tidy a dataset, perform an unsupervised and supervised clustering.
  • Exercise Option 1B: Load and tidy a dataset, perform linear regression and ANOVA.
  • Exercise 2: Change your code from exercise 1 into a custom function.

Friday, May 25th, 2018.

  • How to build your R skills.
    • Using R help, Google, and other online resources.

Previous editions of this course


1st Edition, May 22nd-26th, 2017

Course Introduction to R - 1st Edition, May 22nd-26th, 2017Twelve people belonging to the following countries and institutions participated in this edition:

  • Spain: Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont, Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social, Universitat de València, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.
  • United States of America: University of Maryland.
  • Ireland: University College Cork.
  • Norway: Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences.
  • Iran: Malayer University.
  • United Arab Emirates: Emirates Wildlife Society – WWF.


  • Course Fee
  • Early bird (until January 31st, 2018):
  • 495
  • Regular (after January 31st, 2018):
  • 620
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks and lunches.
    (VAT included)
  • Accommodation Package
  • Early bird (until January 31st, 2018):
  • 360
  • Regular (after January 31st, 2018):
  • 360
  • This includes local transportation, lodging, breakfasts, dinners and social (tourist) activities.
    (VAT included)
  • Course Fee + Accommodation Package
  • Early bird (until January 31st, 2018):
  • 855
  • Regular (after January 31st, 2018):
  • 980
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks, local transportation, lodging, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and social (tourist) activities.
    (VAT included)

We offer the possibility of paying in two instalments (contact the course coordinators). Discounts (see Funding below) are not cumulative and apply only on the fee, not to Accommodation Package or other options.


If you take the Accommodation Package you will be hosted in the Youth Hostel Can Roviralta (take a look at the venue), in shared dormitories (common bathrooms), although you will only share rooms with other classmates. The possibility exists that the dormitories will be mixed. Therefore, if this is an inconvenience for you, and you require staying in a dormitory with only women, or only men, please indicate so in the “Comments” field of the Registration form (see below).

A supplemental charge will be added if you prefer to stay in a single room with private bathroom. The number of rooms is limited and if you prefer to have a single room, let us know it as soon as possible. If you want more information on this please contact the course coordinators.

Please be aware that from the centre of Barcelona city it takes about one hour by car and one hour and a half by public transport to arrive to Els Hostalets de Pierola. Course participants will find that staying in Els Hostalets de Pierola is more convenient.

If you do not want the Accommodation Package, accommodation is available in places other than Els Hostalets de Pierola. You may stay in Barcelona city, Martorell or Igualada. You will find information about Hotels in Martorell here, and information about Hotels in Igualada here.

How to get to Els Hostalets de Pierola from Barcelona city, Martorell or Igualada.

Youth Hostel Can Roviralta (Els Hostalets de Pierola, Barcelona, Spain)


Former participants will have a 5 % discount on the Course Fee.

Scholarships: Thanks to the donations of former participants, this year there scholarships available for PhD students. The scholarships are in the form of tuition fee waivers only (400 € maximum), they do not cover travelling and lodging. If you want to apply please fill up this form. You are expected to send us: 1- Full name and country, 2- Short project related with the course (maximum 2500 characters), 3- Letter of your advisor stating if you have any grant to develop your PhD. Deadline: October 31st. You should register for the course before applying.

Furthermore, a 20 % discount on the Course Fee is offered for members of some organizations (Organizations with discount). If you want to apply to this discount please indicate it in the Registration form (proof will be asked later).

Spanish unemployed scientists, as well as Spanish PhD students without any grant or scholarship to develop their PhD, could benefit from a 40 % discount on the Course Fee. If you want to ask for this discount, please contact the course coordinators. That would apply for a maximum of 2 places and they will be covered by strict inscription order.

Discounts are not cumulative and apply only on the fee, not to Accommodation Package or other options.


Course ScheduleCourse + Accommodation Package Schedule
Sunday, May 20th, 201819:00 Meeting point in Plaza Catalunya (Barcelona) to take the bus to Els Hostalets de Pierola. If you are planning to arrive later, you can find more information in How to get there.
20:00 Registration in the Youth Hostel.
20:30 Dinner.
Monday, May 21st through Friday, May 25th, 20189:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
13:30 to 15:00 Lunch.
15:00 to 18:00 Lessons.

There will be two coffee breaks each day, halfway through each lesson session.

8:30 to 9:00 Breakfast.
9:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
13:30 to 15:00 Lunch.
15:00 to 18:00 Lessons.
20:30 Dinner.

There will be two coffee breaks each day, halfway through each lesson session.

Saturday, May 26th, 20188:30 to 9:00 Breakfast.
9:15 Meeting point in the Youth Hostel to take the bus to visit a wine cellar.
10:00 Arrival at the wine cellar.
11:30 Bus to Barcelona city.
13:00 Arrival at Plaza Catalunya (Barcelona).

The schedule is approximate; it is possible that the content of one day may run into the next and a working day may be longer than advertised.


Transmitting Science Logo
Centre de Restauració i Interpretació Paleontològica (CRIP) Logo
Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) Logo


Colegio Oficial de Biólogos de Castilla y León Logo
Colegio Oficial de Biólogos de Euskadi Logo
Colexio Oficial de Biólogos de Galicia Logo
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European Association of Vertebrate Palaeontologists (EAVP) Logo
Sociedade Brasileira de Paleontologia (SBP) Logo