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Resources for Users of R

created and maintained by Jonathan Godfrey
Institute of Fundamental Sciences, Massey University,
Palmerston North, New Zealand

Last updated: 12 September 2016

At the bottom of this page there are links for files that can be downloaded and used for whatever purpose you like. I only ask that you give credit where credit is due.

I am also developing an on-line presence for some of the work presented here. Your feedback on these initiatives is most definitely appreciated.

Please contact Dr Jonathan Godfrey if you experience any problems working with the documents and files. Constructive feedback on developments to any of the documents is also appreciated.

Here are some brief descriptions of the contents of the pages and files found on them. Each family of files have similar beginnings to their filenames. All pdf files include the version of R that was used to create the document. Add-on packages have the extension zip or tar.gz and you need to choose the appropriate version for your operating system.

Review of Statistical Software options

I am often asked why I recommend R as the preferred tool for blind people. I've decided to document my experiences and those of other blind people working with statistical software on my statistical software review page.

161.325 Statistical Methods for Quality Improvement

The examples for this course are being converted to web pages as we work through the course. Do not expect everything to appear when you first enter the e-book. Some examples for later sections may not be ready for public consumption via a web page just yet. Click here to enter the 161.325 examples e-book.

Let's Use R Now, or LURN

The LURN document is aimed at complete novice R users. It gives a basic introduction to many tasks covered in introductory courses in Statistics. Only the base installation of R is required. Versions of this document show which version of R was used in its creation and the most recent of the files will have the most recent developments in this document's evolution.

The basic structure of the pdf version of this e-book is that the user can use either the bookmarks or the index to find what they are looking for. The document is arranged to make browsing an option through use of hyperlinks wherever possible. The reader needs to know what they want to achieve; if it is explicit then the index might be best, or the bookmarks (table of contents) can be used when it is notional.

I am also creating web pages of this material. To view the material properly in Internet Explorer, you will need to have MathPlayer installed on your PC. If you are using Firefox then the pages should look fine. Currently these pages are plain html however. Click here to enter the Let's Use R Now e-book.

As this document is evolving and being developed when time allows, it is driven by the readers' interests. If you like using what LURN has to offer in its current form and want to see more included to meet your needs, then drop me a line and I will see what I can do to help.

LURN for blind R users

Many enquiries I deal with are about how a blind user can operate R. It's possible, and in fact is easier than most other software I've had to work with in the past. The issue is that the pdf document format that sighted people work with all the time is not entirely friendly to the blind user. A plain text version of LURN is ugly and a little uninformative, so I've been working on getting the files together as a set of web pages. The "BlindR.exe" file given here is a self-extracting archive of the material. To make use of these files you will need to save the file to your own PC and unpack it in a location of your choosing. Just click the file once you have moved it where you want the contents unpacked. The files appear in a folder called "html" and the front page is conveniently called "front.html".

In the past, I had chosen to zip all the individual LaTeX source files for the different chapters of the document together. I think the new way is better. As an alternative, go to the e-book version mentioned above, but be warned it is in plain html and some things won't be great reading using your screen reader software.

The BrailleR project

This project is my attempt to assist other blind users interpret the graphical output that many R commands automatically generate. Originally, I did not want to do any more than provide a text interpretation of what the sighted user can read off the graphic. Much of this material is able to be extracted via the print() command, but using that command can occasionally provide a more detailed listing of what information is stored by R (in the background) so that the graphics can be formed.

In many instances where I saw a need for interpretation, the stored objects provide a bewildering amount of information where the sighted user can glance at the graphic and know what to do, assuming their statistical skills are up to the job. The plan is to develop functionality that will highlight the same problems a sighted user will pick up from the graphic in a textual form. This requires some expertise in the creation of the textual information that can recognize the problems without suggesting the remedy.

On the whole, the functionality of the add-on package i am developing is therefore aimed at informing rather than guiding the blind user. Enhancements will come from my own needs and inspiration until such time as other contributors are found, or blind users express themselves about any unment needs they may encounter.

To gain use of the added functionality, the blind user will need to install the add-on package (a one-off task), load the add-on package in any new R session using the library(BrailleR) command, and then wrap the VI() command around the commands that may lead to visual information that may need interpretting. Note the letters V and I are capitalized. An example is
which would create a histogram of 1000 random values taken from a standard normal distribution.

Further discussion of this project and its developments, support documentation and associated publications appear on the BrailleR Project homepage.


DRUGS was the first major project I undertook which combines theoretical discussion of statistical techniques and demonstrations of R together. I was supported by two of my colleagues in this venture as we were jointly responsible for teaching a course to our third year students which included a mixture of topics in experimental design, multivariate statistics, and introductions to survival analysis, generalised linear models, and nonlinear regression. The acronym title was linked to this course which had the course name Biostatistics; DRUGS stands for Demonstrations of R Using Graphics and Statistics - a title only chosen so that it fitted the acronym.

This book is supported by an add-on package for R which includes the datasets and some functions we used in the text. We only update this package annually to cater for the needs of the students in each new offering of the course.

Mind On Statistics

The Asia-Pacific edition of Utts and Heckard's Mind on Statistics, by Helen MacGillivray, was first published in 2011. I was commissioned by Cengage Learning to write the supplementary manual which shows students how to work with R to complete the tasks in this version of the text. No theory is presented in this document as it is meant for distribution to staff and students who already possess the main textbook. This supplement is arranged so that numbering of the chapters, sections, examples, tables, and figures all match the main textbook. Not all examples, figures and tables are replicated as we did not want to unnecessarily duplicate examples of R code.

A second edition was commissioned in 2013. It is available from the publisher's web pages. Sorry, I don't have the direct link as yet and I suspect it will ask for a log in anyway.

This supplement is supported by an add-on package for R which includes the datasets for both the Asia-Pacific edition and the original U.S. edition by Utts and Heckard. The package will be updated only when necessary for making corrections or additions, perhaps when new datasets are added to the textbook in any future editions.

Devore and Farnum (2nd edition)

One of the courses I was responsible for at Massey is an introductory course in Statistics taught to Engineering students and students from other mathematical disciplines.

The textbook used in class was Devore and Farnum's Applied Statistics for Engineers and Scientists, 2nd edition, published by Duxbury Press.

As I needed my students to be able to use R for their work and due to the absence of any supplement to the textbook for R users, I undertook to prove to my students that they could do all the work in the text using R. In the end, I didn't actually do all the examples as our course doesn't cover the entire textbook. I also needed to rely on the add-on package I created which includes all the datasets that were supplied with the text, some datasets not on the accompanying CD-ROM but printed in the text, and some functions written by me, or from other add-on packages.

No theory is presented in this document as it is meant for distribution to staff and students who already possess the main textbook. This supplement is arranged so that the chapters, sections, examples, tables, and figures all match the main textbook.

The add-on package is only updated as needs determine. If you find something missing or can suggest additions to the package then feel free to let me know. In particular, this package has not been updated since we stopped using the text; the text is also now in a third edition.

Please double click the following files to open/download