Top positive review
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brief but does what is says on the tin
on 5 May 2013
I read this having already gained a moderate amount of experience with R but wanted a little refresher. The book is about the smallest R book you can get but will tell you how to get up and running, import typical data i.e. tab delimited files etc and then it moves onto graphical representations of the data before concluding with a chapter on basic statistics.
The strengths of the book are that its brief and not too benumbing. If you follow their instructions it will work and the authors are at pains to make things facile.
I suppose i can't criticize it for not providing information on how to draw more sophisticated graphs, for example using ggplot2, since that is not its intention. The graphs section is limited to mainly scatter plots and bar charts but it does cover error bars. Other R books tend to view error bars as something impure and taboo for some reason 'real' statisticians prefer things like box plots etc (also presented here). But lets face it most of us biologists have bar charts that need error bars and the authors show a way to do this (its not 'built into R')
I suppose the main criticism I would have is just the omission of making one concept crystal clear. They use data files presented in what is described as 'long' format. That means each column is a variable and each row pertains to the object under study. e.g. if measuring people's height, weight, hair colour then each person has a row and those variables are in columns. Sounds obvious but i have seen many people's data in excel including my own where one doesn't strictly adhere to that format. As long as the data is like that then everything will work in this book. There are R packages to change the format of data like reshape but its easy enough just to do it in excel for the beginner.