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Basics of the R programming language course held in Zagreb

Updated: Jan 17

The first out of the 3 statistical courses planned within COORDINATE project was held on May 24 and 25 2022 in Zagreb, Croatia. The course covered the basics of the R programming language, the RStudio interface to R, data transformations using various packages from the tidyverse package ecosystem, and data visualization using the ggplot2 package. All of this was demonstrated on data collected within the Generations & Gender Programme (GGP).

The course started with a short introduction to the Generations & Gender Programme (GGP), which was given by the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute’s researcher Olga Grünwald, who is also involved in the GGP. Olga introduced the course participants to the surveys GGP has conducted in the past as well as to the new round of data collection (GGS-II) that is currently ongoing.

After the introduction to the GGP, Denis Vlašiček from the Croatian Social Science Data Archive introduced the participants to the R programming language and the most popular integrated development environment (IDE) for R users – RStudio. After giving a brief tour of RStudio, he has shown the participants how to perform basic arithmetic using R, how to use R’s functions, what its basic data structures are and how to use them. Finally, after breaking for lunch, Denis gave an overview of the data wrangling possibilities using packages from the tidyverse ecosystem.

The second day of the course was dedicated to data visualization, and was given by assistant professor Blaž Rebernjak from the Department of Psychology of Zagreb’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Blaž started off with a short introduction to the basics of the grammar of graphics which underlies the ggplot2 package. Afterwards, Blaž introduced various data visualization techniques for continuous, discrete and mixed data, and showed how to create them in R.

All the course materials were made publicly available on GitHub under a CC-BY 4.0 International license, and can be found here:


In a short time, we have gained a good base about the R environment thanks to Denis and Blaž. Their explanations were in-depth, easy to understand, they were always available to help, and we were able to follow the course without any particular problems. The learning atmosphere was relaxed, which encouraged the participants to be more active and to ask relevant questions.

Lucija Dežan, PhD Student, University of Maribor, Slovenia


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