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R en Buenos Aires in 2023: Compiling a list of Latin American R packages

By Blog

The R Consortium caught up with Elio Campitelli, organizer of the R en Buenos Aires Group in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to talk about their experience leading a group with almost 1,000 members. Elio discusses their early exposure to programming, the group’s special interest in R and social sciences, and plans on building a compiled list of Latin American R packages in 2023.

Elio Campitelli, organizer of R en Buenos Aires, is an Atmospheric Scientist who began programming at the young age of eight years old. They got very familiar with statistics language and the sciences from early on. In their free time, they enjoy playing the piano and studying languages like German and Argentinian sign language. They also started creating art with AI and are in the process of learning more AI Technology.


Why did you personally get interested in learning R? How do you use it in your work?

I started to learn R when I was doing my undergrad at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. There I met several, now, friends who would join me in the R Community to study and use the R language. I am now the maintainer for several R packages and give courses.

What is the R community like in Buenos Aires, Argentina?

I think the most surprising thing is that the R community is so large and thriving. I started meeting people who use R and have a passion for it. I think the R community is mostly composed of academic members; in my experience, there are fewer people that come from industry, and there are a lot of people that come from the social sciences. Our most attended event was about the use of data science in social sciences; the room was packed and the meetup went overtime with questions and debates about the uses and biases of algorithms.

What industries do you see more in Buenos Aires?

I come from academia, we have some people who come from industry. I also see people in the community coming from agricultural sectors; they use R to analyze crops and agriculture issues. It is quite surprising to see the work they are doing with R.

How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members? What techniques (Github, zoom, other) have you used to connect and collaborate with members?

We were very affected by Covid. We used to have physical meetings in big rooms with snacks and drinks for people in the community courtesy of Medallia. But with Covid, we had to move online, and it was tough to organize meetings that would not interfere with the personal and professional lives of the people in the community. During these meetings, we do a lot of expositions, in which people show what they do with R, and their experiences using this tool, but also people show their projects and books regarding programming and R. 

What trends do you see in R language over the next year?

One of the things that I see in the R language now is the prospect of being able to run R in the browser with web assembly (https://github.com/georgestagg/webR). Having something like that would be amazing; to create apps like Shiny but entirely in the browser.

Also, being able to teach R with no installation and without depending on cloud infrastructure can be great but expensive considering we need to pay in dollars. 

What is your favorite R event you have attended?

Latin R is an R conference in which people talk about R and the use of R in industry and academia. I also helped to organize many events with people I love and whom I get to meet in person during those events. It’s amazing talking about R and its uses with people in my language.

When is your next event? What are your plans for the group for the coming year? Please give details!

In our most recent event, we had people from the tourism ministry in Argentina who are using R in the government. They showed us what they do and how are they using R in that context. In January we are starting the year with a meetup to present a compiled list of R packages to be maintained or authored by people in Latin America. In the long term, we are looking forward to more people that wish to organize these new meetups. We need fresh blood! Check out our Meetup and Twitter for updates on what is happening with R en Buenos Aires. 


How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications!

Learning the Fundamentals of R, Workshop with R-Ladies Gaborone and Botswana R User Group

By Blog

By: Simisani Ndaba and Edson Kambeu 


Starting from the far left; Simisani Ndaba (Instructor), Reatile Setilo, Phenyo Sabone, Kelly Masoto, Epiphany Ntongana, Edson Kambeu (Instructor), Emma Ramajalwa, Boago Okgetheng

Saturday morning on the 29th of October 2022, the Botswana R User Group, the Department of Computer Science at the University of Botswana, and R-ladies Gaborone collaborated to conduct an R workshop focusing on the fundamentals of R programming for R enthusiasts. Both organizations are the only R communities in Botswana and have had online events on R related topics from speakers around the world. The Department of Computer Science provided the venue and technical support. Altogether, the seven attendees were from different institutions around Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana. Half of the attendees had a basic knowledge of R programming and the other half had a background in Java and Python programming. The workshop was instructed by Botswana R User Group founder, Edson Kambeu, and R-Ladies Gaborone co-founder, Simisani Ndaba. Edson Kambeu, who is a Finance Lecturer, traveled all the way from Francistown, a city in the north of the country to help instruct the workshop. The instructors used google docs to share educational data science websites, R resources, communities, conferences, and workshops for the attendees. 

The Software Carpentry, R for Reproducible Scientific Analysis, was used in the workshop. The other instructor, Simisani Ndaba, is a certified Carpentry Instructor which enabled the Carpentries lesson to be used. The workshop started with an introductory presentation about R programming in Data Science to raise awareness about how R is used in academics and work in Botswana. Afterward, the R programming fundamentals were covered from RStudio IDE, Data Structures, and R packages, to getting help from CRAN and R package vignettes. The attendees were able to understand R functions and statements and questioned parts of R statements they tried to understand like StringAsFactors and they also tried different outputs from changes in R statements. During explanations of the course material, attendees had questions about the similarities between R and Python, and Java and made online searches for alternate functions which demonstrated their curiosity and interest in R capabilities.

At the end of the workshop, attendees were presented with a digital certificate of attendance of the workshop. The workshop has demonstrated an extreme interest in R programming and more workshops need to take place often. The funding was provided by the R consortium which supports R programming community organizations worldwide.

The attendees expressed how the workshop could have reached more people had the event been advertised more broadly through WhatsApp groups, posters, and the university email, which are the main communications channels for the close R Community in Botswana. The workshop had been advertised using Meetup.com, the online platform for community organizations, Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter. People from the social media pages requested an online session which is under consideration and may even attract more participants from around the world. Stay up to date with the latest R activities in Botswana by following R-ladies Gaborone and Botswana R User Group! 🥳


How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications!

Regaining Momentum with In-Person Meetups

By Blog

The R Consortium caught up with Michael Schulte-Mecklenbeck of the BernR User Group to talk about the challenges of organizing an R User Group during the pandemic. The group has focused many of its meetings on introductory level R topics. Michael discussed the challenges of maintaining the frequency of the meetings as they shifted events online. He also shared his hope of bouncing back with in-person meetups next year.

Michael finished his Master’s and Ph.D. in Psychology and currently works as an Associate Professor at the University of Bern.


How did you get introduced to R?

I am a Psychologist by training and have been working mainly in academia but also in industry. For the past 15 years, I have been using R for research and training. I teach R courses at the university and through the Advanced Studies Program at the University of Basel together with Dirk Wulff – a course series called The R Bootcamp. We started the BernR User Group several years ago, and it grew really quickly. Once we hit the number of members required for a professional meetup account, I learned about the support we could get from the R Consortium and applied. So we set up a professional Meetup account with the R Consortium’s support. Thanks for that!

What is the R community like in Switzerland? 

R is being used extensively in the Pharmaceutical industry in Switzerland, but most of these groups are based in Basel. Here in Bern, the use of R is mostly in academia and administration. In universities, many departments use R, but we also had people from finance and medicine, so there are additional interesting use cases outside of academia.

How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?

Before COVID, we were a small group, with events hosted regularly. We met once a month and around 10-15 people attended these in-person meetings. Everybody involved liked it because it was a pleasant group to participate in with a really welcoming atmosphere. In our group, we prefer to talk about basic stuff as most of our members are beginners. It didn’t make sense to talk about super advanced stuff when there is a need for basics. So our talks were on topics like introduction to R or introduction to graphics using ggplot, wrangling data with dplyr, and using RMarkdown

During COVID, we stopped the in-person meetings and sat out the first year. Then we started hosting online meetings, but the frequency declined a lot. So there was a big hit that was brought in by COVID in terms of how often we meet. We went down from eight times a year to maybe twice. 

In the past year, did you have to change your techniques to connect and collaborate with members? For example, did you use GitHub, video conferencing, online discussion groups more? Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people that are unable to attend physical events in the future?  

For our online meetings, we are using Zoom. There are no online discussion forums that we use. We post the slides and code produced during our meetings to GitHub. We do not record or upload our session because we feel it hinders discussions. If a session is being recorded, people are less likely to speak up, especially newcomers. So I feel that not recording our sessions gives a bit more room for people to talk. 

From my teaching experience, I know that hybrid events can be tricky and I don’t see a lot of benefit in hosting hybrid events when it comes to small groups. In the future, I might consider recording specialized talks for members to go back to. 

Can you tell us about one recent presentation or speaker that was especially interesting and what was the topic and why was it so interesting? 

One of our organizers, Simon Schwab, did a really amazing talk titled “Introduction to R with the Standford heart transplant data”. He works in the medical area of transplantation medicine or transplantation research, so it’s really down his avenue. He’s an expert on these data sets and gave a detailed introduction to them at a very nice pace. It was a two-part talk series in which he covered loading data sets, displaying them, some summary stats, and then a bit more advanced regression.

What trends do you see in R language affecting your organization over the next year?

For my group and maybe our department, I think it is clearly reproducible science. Reproducible code is something that has a strong future. I have started using Quarto and trying to introduce it to my group for presentations and projects. This is where things should go at the end – fully reproducible science. 

When is your next event? What are your plans for the group for the coming year? Please give details!

We are struggling at the moment to book a space for physical events. We are bound to host online events, and we agreed that there have been too many online meetings. So we really want to go back to in-person events. We are hopeful that we will get a room from the university next year to host our in-person events and start out again in January or February. I want to give a shoutout to Simon Schwab and Fabio Molo – they are the two in the ‘we’ I am talking about throughout the interview.


How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications!

UPDATE: Successful R-Based Package Submission with Shiny Component to FDA

By Announcement, Blog, News

The R Consortium is happy to announce that on Nov 18th, 2022, the R Submissions Working Group successfully submitted a test submission package with a Shiny component through the FDA eCTD gateway! The submission package has been received by the FDA CDER staff. All submission materials can be found at: https://github.com/RConsortium/submissions-pilot2-to-fda

The objective of the R Consortium R submission Pilot 2 Project is to test the concept that a Shiny application created with the R-language can be bundled into a submission package and transferred successfully to FDA reviewers. The application was built using the source data sets and analyses contained in the R submission Pilot 1 Project.

To our knowledge, this is the first publicly available submission package that includes a Shiny component. We hope this submission package and our learnings can serve as a good reference for future regulatory submission efforts, when considering Shiny as a tool for a more user-friendly interface to navigate through analysis results. Additional agency feedback will be shared in future communications.

To learn more about the R consortium R submission Working Group and the Pilot 1 submission, more information can be found at:

A Community Gathering in Oxford for Learning about R and Networking Opportunities

By Blog

The Oxford R useR Group organizers are leading the R meetup effort in Oxford, UK. The group has over 600 subscribers and brings together >20 R enthusiasts together monthly in an informal setting and over pizza to talk about R coding, learn from one another, and network across sectors.

Meet the Organizers of the Oxford R useR Group 👋



Why did you personally get interested in learning R? How do you use it in your work?

Mariagrazia: I started working after graduating from university. I actually needed to re-learn R, because my degree course was really theoretical, so I didn’t really see any real data that was applied to R. It has been really rewarding learning R and seeing all the different things that I can do with it. Also in my daily job, I’m a statistical consultant, so regarding my projects, I have a lot of variety which is really exciting, but we have to constantly learn new ways of delivering content to non-statistical users.

Aino: R is a very useful tool for biological data analysis and communicating scientific data. I’ve learned more and more about it over the years while doing research, thanks in no small part to fantastic online materials and community.

Kaspar: Data visualization, specifically the ggplot2 package, drove my interest in R initially. I agree with what Aino said about how welcoming the R community is towards newcomers and how many fantastic resources are available online. My current work involves using both R and Python, among the two I find R incredibly useful for data wrangling and data visualization.

What is the R community like in Oxford, UK?

Mariagrazia: The user group has been changing a lot in the past few years. It was a huge group since Kaspar formed it along with the previous person that was organizing the group. The pandemic slowed us a little bit down, we are now recovering from it. We have people from many different backgrounds and several departments at the University of Oxford; there are a lot of people from biology, medical science, and a few people from other departments in industry. We also have many people with statistics and medical science backgrounds, as well as other local councils. It’s very interesting how people use R in their work, specifically when we talk about analyzing data.

Aino: When I first joined the group, I was surprised to meet many R users from many different areas of the public and private sectors — this opened my eyes to the wide uses of R beyond academia where I worked at the time. The group is diverse not only in sectors where people work but also in age and level of experience in R. The monthly meet-ups that we host give people a chance to connect across these differences. 

Kaspar: We founded this group back in 2016. Thinking back, I recall the excitement of designing our logo and the challenges of finding the first venue. We gradually managed to build up a diverse community of attendees from different parts of the university as well as from various industries. It is really cool to meet all these people from so many different areas and learn how they use R in their work. Our meetups typically involve a talk which is followed by informal networking over pizza, this is thanks to our sponsor Ascent. 

How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members? What techniques (Github, Zoom, other) have you used to connect and collaborate with members?

Mariagrazia: During the pandemic, we decided not to organize the reunions via Zoom or any digital platform because it was really overwhelming. It was a point when everything was moving online; job, family, and even social life. We concluded that people didn’t need another online meeting, because we use these opportunities to get to know people and network, which is not something our members felt comfortable doing online. Right now, we have the facilities to make hybrid meetings, and we do not exclude that possibility because there are people that do not want to lose the opportunity to meet members and ask some questions.

Aino and Kaspar: Also, in these meetings, we have volunteer speakers who give presentations. Often, these are made available online afterward so that people who could not attend the meetup can catch up and be up to date with new topics and tools.

What trends do you see in R language over the next year?

Aino: One positive trend is tools that support better ways to work in multiple languages simultaneously, especially in R and Python. This is useful in my field where both languages are very popular. 

Mariagrazia: Something in my daily job that I have found very useful is the program Quarto, which is used for marking data and building a more straightforward report. Or Shiny, to produce reports daily in my work.

What is your favorite R event you have attended?

Kaspar: Some of my favorite events are our meetups. We have had amazing speakers, and I really enjoy connecting with all our members. 

Aino: I also have enjoyed R Ladies London, also an R group that hosts online and in-person meetups. The NHS-R group also do some fantastic online talks.

Mariagrazia: I enjoyed the EARL Conference which is organized by Ascent, a company that develops tools for R. I was very interested because their workshops showed tools and domains that can be applied to many areas when working with R.

What is your favorite project from the R Consortium?

Mariagrazia: My favorite project is the R-Girls-School Network. It is one of my favorites because, in my field of work, statistics, there is a huge gap between men and women in this kind of discipline. So, giving the chance for girls to develop the necessary skills early in their school career is great for introducing them to a scientific or a programming career. Another project that I liked is R Deposits. I think it’s really important to make these tools accessible, especially in research you need the capacity to make an interface to produce and analyze data and make a difference.

Aino: I also got very interested in the R-Girls-School Network, like Mariagrazia, as I also support the availability of these tools for everybody. They can be especially useful for young researchers to develop their skills.

When is your next event? What are your plans for the group for the coming year? Please give details!

We don’t have an event planned just yet. Our last event was on November 28th, it was a Causal inference in R. For future updates on what’s going on with the Oxford RUG, you can follow us on Twitter or our Meetup Group, as well as our Github where we include previous talks and other materials.


How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications!

Spreading a Passion for R with the Münster Community in Germany

By Blog

Dr. Shirin Elsinghorst recently shared her great experience with the R language, motivating her to start the Münster R useR Germany. Shirin shared how R has become a very important part of her life, from her first contact with the language while receiving her Bachelor’s degree, in the workplace, and even as part of her spare time activities. She also emphasizes how significant is the presence of women in the IT world, describing herself as a staunch supporter of the R-Ladies.

Shirin Elsinghorst is a biologist by training turned bioinformatician and Data Scientist. She has a PhD and a Postdoc, in which she worked with Next Generation Sequencing data. Shirin has a keen interest in data analysis through R, using the language every day in her work as a data scientist at codecentric. Shirin Elsinghorst is the creator of the R exprAnalysis package, which streamlines RNA-seq data analysis pipelines. Her passion for teaching has led her to give conferences, workshops, meetups, and blog posts to inspire others to use R.


Why did you personally get interested in learning R? How do you use it in your work? What do you do when you’re not programming?

SE: I am a biologist by training and R has always been the go-to language for statistical analysis of experiments. Therefore, I had gotten to know R from the beginning of my Bachelor’s program. I had been using it sporadically for analysis, like survival curves, Analysis of variance (ANOVAs), t-tests, etc. However, I was not very well versed with R until my Ph.D., which ended up being very bioinformatics-heavy. For my Ph.D., I had to analyze quantitative traits (Quantitative Trait Analysis) and RNA-Seq data. Surprisingly, I got really into the bioinformatics part and so totally enjoyed writing and improving R code and packages, that I ended up going for a bioinformatics postdoc. During these two postdoc years, I did a lot of Next-Gen-Sequencing analysis, like RNA-Seq, microarray analysis, analysis of SNPs (GWAS), methylation patterns, and microRNAs in regard to genetic epidemiology, specifically autoinflammatory diseases. During my spare time, I founded my R-blog (shirin-elsinghorst.de) and self-taught machine learning and other interesting ways to analyze data.

Even though I very much enjoyed working in academia, I did not enjoy the impact a career in it would have on my family life. So, I decided to switch to an industry where I found a great position as Data Scientist with an IT consultancy in Münster, Germany. Here, I also founded the Münster R User Group.

What is the R community like in Münster, Germany? What was most surprising to you about the community?

SE: The R community in Münster is very heavy on academia. Münster is a big university town with lots of students. In my experience, universities, particularly the life sciences, still pretty much exclusively use R. So, there are a lot of beginner users but also some very amazing PhDs, postdocs, (young) professors, and people in the industry who are doing some very cool stuff with R. This was probably the most surprising to me: just how many incredible projects people were working on with R, that went way beyond student-material.

Who comes to these meetups? What industries do you see more in Münster?

SE: The meetups were usually a mix of some students, Ph.D. students, postdocs, and professors, but also people working in the IT industry. Münster is not a very big city but still has a lot of businesses. We have more traditional IT firms and consultancies but also town-funded firms and a lot of startups.

How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members? What techniques (Github, zoom, other) have you used to connect and collaborate with members? Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people that are unable to attend physical events in the future?

SE: Since COVID we did not have any in-person meetups anymore. However, COVID pretty much coincided with my two parental leaves. During the first, I had help with organizing a few more meetups but ever since COVID, this completely went away. I had been sharing some virtual meetups from other R User groups, so people did not have to completely go without R-content.

What trends do you see in R language over the next year?

SE: In my experience, R tends to develop into being just one part of an analysis, as opposed to the entire analysis being performed in R. There are many tools very specific to certain tasks that are written in other languages, like C, Perl (yes, that does still exist), Python, Java, etc. t just makes sense to use different tools for different tasks. And use R for what is really good at statistical analysis and visualization.

What is your favorite R event that you have attended? From a small meetup to a big conference!

SE: This will most definitely be the rOpenSci Unconference 2018 in Seattle! It was absolutely great to meet so many R-folks. It was just amazing!

Of the Funded Projects by the R Consortium, do you have a favorite project? Why is it your favorite?

SE: There are so many amazing projects there, but I feel especially drawn to “Consolidating R-Ladies Global organizational guidance and wisdom”. As one of the fewer ladies in the IT-world, I am a staunch supporter of the R-Ladies and would like to see more ladies venture into informatics.

Of the Active Working Groups, which is your favorite? Why is it your favorite?

SE: Here, I choose R/Business. As a longtime R user, I enjoy working with R a lot and it is still my go-to language for most Data Science tasks. However, I find that in business, there are a lot of misconceptions about R, such that it is not suitable for use in production or in a business context in general. I would very much like to advocate for a place of R alongside Python in Data Science.

When is your next event? What are your plans for the group for the coming year? Please give details!

SE: I have only been back from parental leave since October of this year, so I’ll try to revive the MünsteR group in the near future to host in-person events again. However, as my kids are still very small, attending events in the evening is still impossible for me at the moment. But I am looking forward to when that changes again! You can check out any updates via our Meetup group.


How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications!

Going Global During the Pandemic

By Blog

Vassilis Georgiou of the AthensR User Group talked to the R-Consortium about the group’s journey during the pandemic. Even though the group wasn’t hosting very regular online meetups, it remained active by becoming a part of the Global R User Group. This group allowed the members of AthensR to attend events from R Users Groups around the globe. Vassilis hopes to revive the group’s local events and expand its reach.

Vassilis is the Director-Innovation at IRI, Athens. He has a Ph.D. in Statistics-Computational Intelligence from the University of Patras.


How did you get interested in R?

I work for a company named IRI, which is based in Chicago and has an office in Athens. We perform market analysis in the retail industry. We gather receipts from supermarkets across the globe, organize the data, and run a series of analytics. I am the director of the R & D team and develop different algorithms and we do all of this in R. Everything we do is in R, from prototyping to developing. We also develop shiny applications to give the stakeholders preliminary results and get feedback. Once an algorithm is final we give it to the software engineers who will build web applications in Java or another language on a large scale. There are also cases where we give access to clients to R Shiny web apps. This is my professional contact with R. Besides that, it has now been several years since we started the AthensR group. 

What is the R community like in Greece? Can you name a few industries using R in Greece?

Many universities in Greece teach R and there are many people who are proficient in R in both academia and industry. Almost all statistics departments mainly use R and it is also becoming popular in other fields like electrical engineering. There is a realization that while MATLAB/Python is useful, they need to use R for statistical things. 

In our company, we have been asked many times why we use R and not Python because they feel Python is a more complete language. We have given them some case studies. For example, if you are running a simple regression analysis but have multicollinearity issues in R you would not get coefficients of this variable. In Python, it will give a coefficient of 1 billion which is useless. So this way we convince them that for statistics we will stick to R. 

Besides the AthensR there are other R user groups in Greece. I know about the Patras R User Group, but there are a few others. Many companies use R for R & D mostly. In our company, 80 percent of our development in R is mostly for R & D prototyping. R can be used in production but there are some restrictions to take into account. And since we don’t always know who will be using it and how skillful they will be, we try to avoid providing access to R source code in production but provide access to Shiny web apps that protect the source code from being accidentally altered. We use statistical modeling R codes internally for our delivery teams and operations teams to run it themselves. 

How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?

Not just in the case of our group, I feel that shifting meetups online overall has made it difficult to network. While in most events the speakers are very accommodating and the events are interactive, the element of networking is definitely missing and people are not able to bond. 

During the pandemic, we did not host regular meetups online. However, I was contacted by Nicolas Attalides who is organizing the Global R User Group. It is a meetup that brings together R Users Group from all over the world and provides them with a common platform. So whenever there was a new talk planned, we would also publish it in our local R Users Group. Since most groups were hosting online events, members of our group had the opportunity to listen to speakers from Brighton, Barcelona, Vienna, Tunisia, and many other places. So in a way, the pandemic gave our group access to R talks from around the globe.

In the past year, did you have to change your techniques to connect and collaborate with members? For example, did you use GitHub, video conferencing, online discussion groups more? Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people that are unable to attend physical events in the future?  

We have been using Zoom for our online meetups. We do not currently have a Youtube Channel or a GitHub account. We would like to host hybrid events in the future so that we can hold on to this sense of inclusion and people from around the globe can attend the events. 

I need to expand the organizing committee of our group to start hosting hybrid events. During the pandemic, I have been working remotely, so I am not based in Athens. I also struggle to find enough time to manage the group, as I have been single-handedly organizing the group. I hope to find some new organizers based in Athens who can help me organize physical and hybrid meetups. Expanding the organizing committee will help us in reaching out to more people. We are currently a group of around 150 people, however, the number of R users in Athens is much higher than this. Only from the universities every year I would say at least 4-500 people graduating who for sure have broad exposure to R. 

Can you tell us about one recent presentation or speaker that was especially interesting and what was the topic and why was it so interesting? 

There was a really interesting talk titled Bayesian item response modeling in R with brms back in April. It was organized by Oslo UseR! group and the author of the BRMS package Paul Burkner presented it. Also, there were a couple of really nice introductory talks last year with Shiny and with data manipulation by Nicolas Attalides. They were really nice for people who don’t have a lot of experience. He gave a really detailed step-by-step demo on how you can build shiny applications from scratch without knowing anything about HTML or developing web applications. You can publish your application in just a few minutes. In half an hour you have your own app and you can give the URL to someone. 

What trends do you see in R language affecting your organization over the next year?

For now, my focus is to expand the organizing committee of the group and start hosting more regular physical or hybrid meetings. I also hope to expand our group by attracting more members and expanding the organizing team. I think efforts in these directions will have a much greater impact on our group as opposed to the trends in the R language. 

Of the Funded Projects by the R Consortium, do you have a favorite project?  Why is it your favorite?

MATTER 2.0: larger-than-memory data for R. It is a main issue of R to be able to efficiently handle data objects that do not fit in memory. Such an initiative could help R penetration even more.

When is your next event? Please give details!

We currently don’t have any upcoming events planned just yet. You can stay updated via our Meetup Group.


How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications!

Promoting the Use of R in Mali

By Blog

The R Consortium recently caught up with Fousseynou Bah of the Bamako Data Science Group (also on Facebook) and talked about the budding R community in Mali. Online events allowed the group to broaden its horizons and invite international speakers to present at their events. They hope to host hybrid events in the future to make the most out of both online and physical event formats.

Fousseynou is an Economist currently working for the Electricity and Water Regulatory Commission. He received his Ph.D. and Master’s degree in Economics from the Université Grenoble Alpes, France.


How did you get introduced to R?

I have studied economics, and it is a discipline where you use a lot of data at the graduate level. This is how I started using R back in the early 2000s. Almost 20 years later, I realized what a powerful language it has become. This motivated me to talk to some friends and inquire about having a group of data science enthusiasts come together to share knowledge and have discussions. My academic training mostly influenced me and led me to start this group. R is fascinating as it is free, open-source, and the best way to get people interested in programming and data science. It doesn’t cost a lot and ensures reproducibility. 

What is the R community like in Mali? Can you name a few industries using R in Mali?

The R community in Mali is in the budding stage. I have to go out and find people who use R and understand what it is. The main purpose of our group is to introduce people to R and promote its use in Mali. We are trying to convince people to use R for business handling instead of proprietary programs, as it is an amazing tool and free of cost. They can train their staff and introduce it in their data lives as a working tool. It is mostly people from academia who are familiar with R and using it for their research. In Mali, industries have not embraced R as much as I would hope. A lot of work needs to be done to evangelize, educate, and promote R in Mali.

How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?

Before the pandemic, we used to host physical events on Friday afternoons. Friday afternoons are when people are still in the mood for work but also relaxed because the weekend is close. We used to host our events at different locations. Mostly we used to go on the campus as it has some research centers. We could use the infrastructure to do our presentations and we used to meet in a room afterward for snacks.

With the pandemic, we have completely shifted our events online. It was interesting because we could connect with people from around the globe and have them attend and speak in our sessions. We connected with people living in Europe, the US, or North America and have them present. So online events allowed us to expand our horizons.

In the past year, did you have to change your techniques to connect and collaborate with members? For example, did you use GitHub, video conferencing, online discussion groups more? Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people that are unable to attend physical events in the future?  

We have been switching between Google Meet and Zoom for our online events. We have also created a WhatsApp group to interact with our group members. This group is not just limited to the presentations, but we also exchange information regarding different opportunities, scholarships, and collaboration requests. People also use it to showcase a project they have done and ask for help with issues they encounter. 

Our group members do not use GitHub a lot. Whenever I present, I share the GitHub link and inform our group members that the slides, code, and data are available on GitHub. We do not upload our recorded sessions on YouTube. Instead, we share the link within our WhatsApp group due to privacy concerns. I hope in the future maybe we will also start a YouTube channel. 

These days, I am nostalgic for the physical events and our discussions over snacks afterward. I feel that this networking and human contact is really important for our group. It allows people to come together and find common ground. So after the pandemic settles, we would like to host hybrid events to reap the benefits of both physical and online events. It will allow us to keep our group open to international speakers while allowing us to promote data science locally. 

What trends do you see in R language affecting your organization over the next year?

I hope that the R ecosystem becomes stronger in the years to come. Things are changing in data science now and there is a trend of making sure that people can collaborate. Allowing people to switch between different languages is also a great opportunity. I think it will make R become more visible and highlight the power it has. 

For our group, I think it is very important to make sure people realize the power of R and turn to it. We are also trying to educate people that they don’t need to be from a computer science or technical background to harness the power of R. They need domain expertise to find their way with R and use it. 

Of the Funded Projects by the R Consortium,  do you have a favorite project?  Why is it your favorite?

My favorite funded project is deposits: Deposit Research Data Anywhere.  It aims to facilitate the access of researchers to data. And that hits a cord with anyone striving to promote data science, for data is our most valuable raw material.

Of the Active Working Groups, which is your favorite?  Why is it your favorite?

Due to my background in economics, my favorite active working group is R/Business.

When is your next event? Please give details!

We don’t have any events planned at the moment, but follow us on our socials to stay updated!


How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications!

2022 Government & Public Sector R Conference

By Blog, Events

We are proud sponsors of the 2022 Government & Public Sector R Conference hosted by Lander Analytics! This year’s conference will take place on December 1st & 2nd with workshops on November 30th! You can attend either in-person at Georgetown University or virtually online from anywhere in the world.

You don’t want to miss out on the fun! You’ll here from speakers, such as:

And many, many more!

Also, you can attend a the full-day interactive workshop on November 30th:

  • Introduction to Natural Language Processing for Public Policy Research with William E. J. Doane

Use code RSTATS20 to receive 20% off conference & workshop tickets!

To learn more about the speaker lineup, workshops, and agenda visit rstats.ai/gov. Also, follow @rstatsai on Twitter to stay up to date with all conference details. 

If your organization is interested in being a sponsor, please contact Lander Analytics at info@landeranalytics.com.

Preparing to Thrive by Collaborating with Local Universities

By Blog

Vivek Patil of the Inland Northwest R User Group (INRUG) talked to the R Consortium about the R Community located in Spokane, Washington, the diverse group of members of INRUG, and the different uses of R language that characterize this community amongst them all.

Vivek Patil is a Professor of Marketing at Gonzaga University, where he used to teach the SPSS to his students for marketing research in the School of Business. After learning about R and attending a course on Data Analysis from Coursera, he learned R to expand his knowledge and introduced R to his students in the Business School.


Why did you personally get interested in learning R? How do you use it in your work and what do you do when you’re not programming?

Vivek: In 2012-13, I was looking for something new to learn as I had earned tenure and settled in on the data analysis tools that I was using for my teaching and research. I had heard about the power of R and the fact that it was an open-source tool that would not cost my students anything motivated me to begin my adventure. At that time, I signed up for Jeff Leek’s, Data Analysis course through Coursera because it used R for its analysis. Although the course didn’t teach R, I forced myself to learn it and I just fell in love with it. 

Rather than writing R packages, my focus has been on utilizing existing packages to address different questions in my domains of interest. Similarly, I teach my students to use different packages to solve business problems. I have taught R in my marketing research class and I created two new courses based on it – Data Visualization and Business Analytics.

What is the R community like in Spokane Washington?

Vivek: It is a very small community. Krisztian Magori, a faculty of Biostatistics at Eastern Washington University, and I created the User Group in August, 2014. We contacted a few of our colleagues and had our first meeting on September 30, 2014. Slowly, we had larger numbers of people who began attending our meetings on a regular basis. 

Who comes to these meetups? What industries do you see more in Spokane?

Vivek: Our attendees and presenters have included faculty and students from many universities in Spokane, including Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, and Washington State University. Additionally, many Data Scientists and Computer Scientists from different companies representing sectors such as healthcare, finance, utilities, manufacturing, and computing and information technology services, have also attended and presented in our meetings.  

How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members? What techniques (Github, zoom, other) have you used to connect and collaborate with members?

Vivek: COVID has taken a toll on how frequently the group has recently met. Before the pandemic, we had been meeting quite frequently; there was a time when we would meet in-person on a monthly basis at the Gonzaga University campus. I’m now hopeful that we can begin to meet in-person again and start meeting more often. 

When is your next event? What are your plans for the group for the coming year? Please give details!

Vivek: I have sent a call out to the group members to invite potential presenters to contact me. Initially, I was paying for the meetup pro account with my money and then we had support from Revolution Analytics and Microsoft. I appreciate the support the R Consortium is now providing to fund the Meetup account that has made communication with the community easier.  


How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications!