So, I started learning R Programming somewhere around 2012. I think. I was working in this job where I *really* wanted to do research, but I kept getting shot down. At some point, I got the idea that if I could learn statistics and methodology, I could sneak into other people’s projects. To this date, that has not been a successful approach. But it led me to learn R, so it’s worked out okay.
The first big appeal, for me, was that R was free and open source. I was still a fledgling social worker, and money was tight. The other types of programs used for statistics and data analysis are expensive, and free seemed like a much better option.
The next thing that piqued my interest was that it seemed to offer a lot of versatility. As I learned about the language, the more I realized I could do with it. Sure, you could do the expected statistical stuff. But one of my first UseR! conference sessions was a Bookdown session with Karl Broman. I sat in the back of the class, terrified that someone would realize how little I knew. But as I listened, I realized that Bookdown had lots of applications for creating publications and presentations. And I already understood the basics of Markdown language, so that made it seem less intimidating.
I finally got around to ggpltot2, and graphics. I firmly believe that life is too short for crappy graphics. I had used a well-known statistical software package in my MSW program, and I felt deeply and personally offended at the plainness of the charts and graphs. So, I was absolutely delighted when I discovered that really lovely graphics can be created with ggplot2.
I’m still learning my way around R Programming, but I am a true believer. I describe myself as a Perpetual Advanced Beginner… I’ve spent the past few years immersed in a non-research doctoral program, so I feel that I never have quite enough time to devote to learning more. The learning curve is sometimes steep, but I keep plugging away. I also love the R community, and they always keep me coming back.
My Social Workers, I’m going to be talking a lot more about R Programming in the near future. So, stick around if you’re intrigued.
Gina G., 6/29/2020