R and RStudio


R workshops require both R and RStudio unless otherwise indicated.

Step 1: R and RStudio

Option 1: Install on your laptop

If you already have R installed, as long as you have a recent version of R with the version number starting with 3.4 or 3.5, you should be fine. Older versions may be ok as well, but if it won’t disrupt your workflow, you may want to update to a more recent version. For RStudio, we recommend you use a recent version with the version number starting with 1.1.

If starting from scratch, you should install R first, and then install RStudio.

R: Install R

RStudio: Install RStudio Desktop (free)

After installation is complete, open RStudio to confirm your installation. You should see an R console window running R.

During the workshop, you will download the workshop materials and open them locally. See the workshop site for more information.

If you do not have administrative privledges on your computer, you may need to contact your local IT department for assistance installing R and RStudio. Please verify you have the ability to install packages as well. As an alternative, use option 2 or 3 below.

NOTE: If you don’t have a NetID, you should use Option 2 below. A NetID is required for accessing the Northwestern network, which is needed for downloading workshop materials and R packages. The Northwestern Guest network does not always work for these tasks.

Option 2: RStudio Cloud

If you do not have a Northwestern NetID, you should use this option.

RStudio offers RStudio Cloud to use R and RStudio for free through your web browser. Once you create an account and log in, you’ll need to make a new project to see RStudio. See the Guide for more information on using the service.

You can create new Projects from GitHub repositories. This is what you will do to get materials from a workshop repository into RStudio Cloud.

Option 3: Quest

Quest is Northwestern’s research computing cluster. It is available for faculty, postdocs, staff, and students engaged in research.

R and RStudio are available as part of the Quest Analytics Nodes. You need a Quest allocation (account) to access the Analytics Nodes; a Research I allocation is where you want to start if you don’t already have a Quest allocation.

Quest allocation requests can take several days to be processed, so you’ll need to apply for an allocation at least a week before your first workshop. You should log into RStudio on the Quest Analytics Nodes before the workshop to ensure you’re able to.

Step 2: Install Packages

For all options above, you may need to install additional packages. Information on required packages may be sent ahead of time, may be listed in the workshop repository, or you may be asked to install additional packages during the workshop.

If you know how to use R, the tidyverse set of packages is needed for several workshops. It takes a while to install, so it’s good to install ahead of time. You can install it from the Packages tab in the bottom right window of RStudio or with the R command:

install.packages("tidyverse", repos="http://ftp.ussg.iu.edu")

We’ll cover how to install packages in the R: Introduction and R: Refresher workshops, so if you’re new to R, don’t worry about installing any packages ahead of time.