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Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

3rd Edition

Introduction to R

March 9th-13th, 2020, Barcelona (Spain)

Statistics and Bioinformatics

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Introduction to R

Course Overview

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.


Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP)

C/ de l’Escola Industrial, 23
08201 Sabadell, Barcelona (Spain)

How to get there


March 9th-13th, 2020




32 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


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.



  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


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


  • Course Fee
  • Early bird (until December 31st, 2019):
  • 492 * (393.60 for Ambassador Institutions)
  • Regular (after December 31st, 2019):
  • 620 * (476 for Ambassador Institutions)
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks and lunches (VAT included).
    * Participants from companies/industry will have an extra charge of 100 €.

20 % discount will be applied to your fee If you belong to any of the Institutions listed HERE. Discounts (see Funding below) are not cumulative and apply only on the fee.

We offer the possibility of paying in two instalments (contact the course coordinator).


Course Schedule
  • Monday to Friday:
    • 9:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
    • 13:30 to 15:00 Lunch (included).
    • 15:00 to 18:00 Lessons.

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.



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

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).

Unemployed scientists living in Spain, as well as PhD students based in Spain 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 coordinator. 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.

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.


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