Why R?

For those of us who work with data, things are changing quickly. Gone are the days when expensive software like SPSS, SAS, or Stata were your only options for data analysis. And while tools like Excel can produce high-quality data visualization, there are limits to their powers.

There is one tool, though, that is on the cutting edge for data analysis and visualization: R. Since its birth in 1992, R has grown to become the one of the tools of choice for data scientists, data journalists, and others. R has incredible functionality for data analysis, ranging from simple to high-level statistics and everything in between. And its data visualization capabilities are why many of the graphs you see in the New York Times, FiveThirtyEight, and other places are made in R.

Financial Times graphic made exclusively in R

This power has led to incredible growth in the use of R. R is on its way to becoming the dominant tool for data analysis and visualization.

R is Powerful and Free

All of this power comes at a cost: nothing, nada, zilch. That’s right. As free, open-source software, R costs absolutely nothing to use. If your organization is accustomed to paying thousands of dollars per year for tools, think of what you could do with those savings.

Custom training to move your staff to R can not only save your organization money. It will also boost productivity and engagement. Staff will gain skills they can use to do their current work more quickly, more efficiently, and more beautifully. They will also know that they can take these skills with them, whatever their next steps may be.

Be on the cutting edge, save money, and have a productive and engaged workforce: moving to R is a win-win-win.

Why Work with Me?

I started R for the Rest of Us to help organizations embrace the power of R. Through custom training, I can work with your staff to make a seamless transition from whatever tools you’re using now to R.

There are a lot of great R coders out there, but only a few who really know how to teach. With a master’s degree in education and a decade of teaching experience (you’d be surprised how much overlap there is between teaching second graders to read and teaching new R users to code!), I structure custom training to ensure your team will develop the skills to do your current work, and to do things you never even imagined possible.

Yes, you can learn R for free. There are plenty of free resources to get you started. But knowing where to start can be extremely challenging. I learned R this way, and I know that I wasted a lot of time going down paths that weren’t useful. Having experienced this pain myself, I can move your organization quickly to R mastery.

We have had a terrific experience with David. He led an extended in-person training for our team, supplemented with two webinars and ongoing TA and code review. He is very knowledgable about R, a terrific teacher, and a good listener. Our team had a range of prior experience with R and SPSS, and he was able to put together a series of learning experiences that helped us all to improve our practice. I was particularly impressed that he used data from our projects to re-create our regular analytic processes to tailor our trainings. This made the sessions very focused and very practical.


Corey Newhouse

Founder and Principal, Public Profit

All custom training is designed around projects that your organization is working on. Working with your data makes learning easier because it allows your team to focus on learning R, not having to remember details about a new dataset. And it shows staff how this new tool can help them solve problems they already encounter in their work.

How Does Custom Training Work?

An important note: All aspects of custom training can be conducted in person or streaming video. However, having done both, I strongly recommend in-person training, at least at the beginning. Issues that new R users have, which can quickly halt their progress are often much more easily solved in person.


I first work with you to conduct a needs assessment and to understand your team’s processes. I ask questions such as:

  1. What types of data do you work with?
  2. How do you collect that data?
  3. What are your steps for cleaning, analyzing, and visualizing it?
  4. What types of analyses do you conduct?
  5. What types of visualizations do you produce?

We then develop a plan to move your team to R mastery. What follows are some of the most common elements of custom training plans.

Pilot Training

Working with a small group of staff, I plan and conduct a training on a project of your pilot team’s choice. We work through learning R in a way that covers concepts relevant to your team’s work.

This phase is useful for helping me to understand your team’s processes in greater depth. It’s also helpful because it develops a core group of users within your organization who can then support others as they begin their R journey.

I often then support this pilot group as they work through a project in R. This allows them to apply concepts learned in the training to the work they do on a daily basis.

Full Group Training

Full group training is often quite similar to the pilot group training. However, because the pilot group now has familiarity with R, they are able to serve as teaching assistants. Not only does this structure help move the rest of the team along more quickly, it also builds your organization’s internal capacity. Learning to use R is a good first step toward mastery. Teaching it to others solidifies this understanding.

Project Support

Custom training often includes built-in time for me to work closely with your team as they begin to use R on actual projects. Similar to the support provided during the pilot phase, this enables your team to confidently apply their R learning to their work and avoid any roadblocks they encounter along the way.


Essential to ingraining R into your workflow is documenting how your team uses it. The last phase of custom training often involves developing documentation of the ways that your team uses R. This involves things like which packages your team uses, your team’s coding style, how you share code and data with team members, and more.

Documenting these details allows you to get your current team on the same page, and ensure that future team members can jump right in to your team’s R workflow.

Let’s Talk

Ready to discuss how I can help move your team to the most powerful tool for data analysis and visualization?

About Me

Think you know what an R user looks like? I’m probably not what you have in mind.

I’m not a hardcore quant (my PhD is in anthropology). I’m not a coder ready to jump on you for any small mistake.

I want to help others avoid the pain that I went through learning R.

A teacher at heart, I make R less scary and more fun (yes, fun).

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