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What is R?

R is a simple, yet powerful, programming language designed for statistics and data analysis. It is open source and free to use.

R is a helpful tool for cleaning up “messy” data, developing linear and nonlinear models, performing statistical tests, and creating data visualizations. There are many add-ons, or “packages”, for R that extend its capabilities. For example, you can use R packages to make maps, perform network analysis, and even generate interactive web applications!


What are Open Labs?

Open labs are (mostly) unstructured workshops designed to help you learn R. Each week brief instruction will be provided, followed by time to practice, work together, ask questions and get help. Participants can join the lab any time during the session, and are welcome to work on unrelated projects.

The Open Labs model was established by our colleagues at Columbia with excellent results, and now we’re giving it a try. Our goal is to connect researchers and foster a community for R users on campus.

R Open Labs is a collaboration between the UNC Chapel Hill Libraries Research Hub and the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science.


How do I Get Started?

Attend an R Open Lab
R Open Labs occur on Thursdays from 2-3:30 PM at the Davis Library Research Hub.

Please bring a laptop with R and R Studio installed. If you have problems installing the software, please arrive 15 minutes early (1:45 PM) so we can assist you.

Install R and R Studio

  1. To install R, click here and select your operating system.
  2. To install R Studio, a tool that makes working in R faster and easier, go here.

Begin Working in R
R Open Labs kicks off with two full-length workshops that introduce participants to R. If you are a beginner, you are welcome to attend the later labs. To get up to speed, we suggest working through materials from previous labs available in the Lessons section of this website.


Is R help available outside of Open Labs?

If you require one-on-one help with R outside of the Open Labs, in-person assistance is available from both the Davis Library Research Hub and the Odum Institute. The following experts can assist you:

Matt Jansen
Research Hub Data Analyst
Consultations available by appointment.

Lorin Bruckner
Research Hub Data Visualization Librarian
Consultations available by appointment.

Nuvan Rathnayaka
Odum Institute Statistical Consultant
Walk-in assistance available. Please check the schedule.

Social Science Research
For help with social science research, speak with an Odum Institute consultant at the service desk on the second floor of the Davis Library. Consultants who specialize in different types of tools and techniques are available on different days of the week. View the schedule for more information and to contact the Odum Institute.

Health Science Research
The Health Sciences Library Research Hub provides assistance with data management, referrals, searching strategies, new technologies, and more. Click here to request a consultation with a member of the HSL Research Hub.

Other Science Research
The Kenan Science Library has staff available for consultations, instruction, and customized services. Librarians will work with university researchers in the sciences to develop strategies for the preservation of and access to research data. Contact a consultant for research help.

All Other Research Help
The Davis Library Research Hub supports investigation, analysis, and visualization in many formats for researchers interested in working with data, mapping, texts, and technology. Walk-in assistance is provided at the service desk on the second floor of the Davis Library, and consultations can be scheduled with experts in data management, data analysis, data visualization and GIS.