BC Cancer Research Centre

Oct 22-23, 2019

9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Instructors: Yuka Takemon, Bruno Grande

Helpers: Elizabeth Chun

General Information

This workshop is intended for trainees and staff at BC Cancer with limited or no experience in the R language and/or any form of coding language. We will work towards becoming familiar with how to read and write data, types of data structures, data manipulation, and other forms of general utilities that can help speed up data processing and analyses.

Our goal is to introduce (new) concepts and vocabulary, and most importantly exposure to working in R.

We encourage those with coding experience (python, C, C++, unix, etc.) to help your neighbours!

Where: Diamond Lecture Theatre @ BC Cancer Research Centre, 675 W 10th, Vancouver, Canada. Get directions with OpenStreetMap or Google Maps.

When: Oct 22-23, 2019. Add to your Google Calendar.

Requirements: Participants must bring a laptop with a Mac, Linux, or Windows operating system (not a tablet, Chromebook, etc.) that they have administrative privileges on. They should have a few specific software packages installed (listed below).

Code of Conduct: Everyone who participates in Carpentries activities is required to conform to the Code of Conduct. This document also outlines how to report an incident if needed.

Accessibility: We are committed to making this workshop accessible to everybody. The workshop organizers have checked that:

Materials will be provided in advance of the workshop and large-print handouts are available if needed by notifying the organizers in advance. If we can help making learning easier for you (e.g. sign-language interpreters, lactation facilities) please get in touch (using contact details below) and we will attempt to provide them.

Contact: Please email ytakemon@bcgsc.ca for more information.


Please be sure to complete these surveys before and after the workshop.

Pre-workshop Survey

Post-workshop Survey

Tuesday, October 22nd

Before Pre-workshop survey
09:00 Workshop Overview
09:15 Introduction to R and RStudio
10:00 Navigating files and directories
10:20 Project management
10:40 Seeking help
10:45 Morning break: coffee & snacks
11:00 Producing reports with knitr
11:30 Understanding data structures
12:30 Lunch break
13:30 Exploring data frames
14:15 Subsetting Data
15:30 Afternoon break: coffee & snacks
16:00 Publication quality graphics (Part 1)
16:00 Wrap-up
16:30 END

Wednesday, October 23rd

09:00 Recap Day 1
09:15 Vectorization
09:30 Control flow
10:30 Morning break: coffee & snacks
10:45 Creating functions
11:45 Writing data
12:00 Lunch break & relocate to boardroom
13:30 Data handling with Dplyr
14:30 Afternoon break: Coffee & Snacks
14:45 Data handling with Tidyr
15:45 Publication quality graphics (Part 2)
16:30 Wrap-up
16:30 Post-workshop Survey
16:40 END

We will use this collaborative document for chatting, taking notes, and sharing URLs and bits of code.


To participate in a Software Carpentry workshop, you will need access to the software described below. In addition, you will need an up-to-date web browser.

We maintain a list of common issues that occur during installation as a reference for instructors that may be useful on the Configuration Problems and Solutions wiki page.


R is a programming language that is especially powerful for data exploration, visualization, and statistical analysis. To interact with R, we use RStudio.

Video Tutorial

Install R by downloading and running this .exe file from CRAN. Also, please install the RStudio IDE. Note that if you have separate user and admin accounts, you should run the installers as administrator (right-click on .exe file and select "Run as administrator" instead of double-clicking). Otherwise problems may occur later, for example when installing R packages.

You can download the binary files for your distribution from CRAN. Or you can use your package manager (e.g. for Debian/Ubuntu run sudo apt-get install r-base and for Fedora run sudo dnf install R). Also, please install the RStudio IDE.