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R is a free and open source object-oriented programming language (writing scripts, creating functions, exploring, modeling, and visualizing data) and software environment (data manipulation, statistical model, predictive modeling) for statistical graphic and computing. R programming is adopted worldwide by statisticians and data miners. R is an implementation of the S programming language and it was first written as a research project by Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman.

This post is a guide for anyone willing to R programming from scratch, the post will present and compare between the best free online sources where beginners can start from and follow along, the sources stated here are full structured courses so you won’t find a link to a single video or unrelated tutorials.

If you just want the bottom line (the road map to learn R programming) and you don’t wish to read the entire article then go to the “Bottom Line” section at the end of the article.

Getting Started with R Programming Online for Free

Big Data University

Big Data University is the first free online outlet where beginner can start learning R Programming for free. You need to sign up in order to have access to the course.

Structure: The course is divided into 5 lessons and each of the lessons is divided into video tutorials that covers certain topics in R programming. Each of the lessons also includes transcripts of the video tutorials, and a “hands on labs” training with its answers for you to try what you’ve learned practically.

Interface: The interface is simple; you shall find the video tutorials, transcripts and the “hands on” tab material listed under one another, just click on what you’re interested in and you’re ready to start.

1 - big data university r programming courseNow, the pros and cons

Pros

  1. Free.
  2. The course is well-structured and organized for beginners.
  3. The essay at the end of the course is excellent for beginners to test their understanding.

Cons

  1. There are no significant drawbacks about this outlet.

Verdict: This is the best place for any beginner to start learning R programming through video tutorials.

Udemy

Udemy is the second free online outlet where beginners can start learning R programming through video tutorials; you need to register using your email in order to have access to these video tutorials. You can learn nearly anything on Udemy just type what you’re willing to learn in the search box (R programming in this case) and hit search, at the time of writing this post the course entitled “R Basics“ was available for free.

Structure: The course is divided into 2 sections and each section is divided into lessons (17 in total) and each lesson covers a certain topic in R programming.

Interface: The interface is very simple, after registering and adding the course to your list, just click on the lesson you’re interested in and the video will start.

2 - udemy r programming courseNow, the pros and cons:

Pros

  1. Free.
  2. The course is well-organized and structured for beginners.

Cons

  1. This training doesn’t cover as many topics as the course on Big Data University.

Verdict: This is a good outlet for beginners to start learning R programming through video tutorials.

Bucky’s Room (The New Boston)

Bucky’s Room is the third free online outlet where beginner can start learning R programming through video tutorials. You don’t need to register to have access to the course, just go to the website and you’re ready to go.

Structure: The training is divided into 10 video tutorials that cover the basic topics of R programming; the course is well-organized for beginners.

Interface: The interface is very simple, just go to the website and click on the topic you’re interested in and you’ll be directed to the video’s page.

 3 - the new boston r programming courseNow, pros and cons:

Pros

  1. Free.
  2. The course is well-structured and organized for beginners.

Cons

  1. The tutorials only cover the very basics of R programming.

Verdict: This is more suitable for those who want to get a general idea about R programming.

Data Camp

Data Camp is the fourth free online outlet where beginners can start learning R programming through an interactive course, you’ve to register in order to have access to the course.

Structure: The course is divided into 6 chapters, each chapter is divided into lessons that covers various topics in R programming.

Interface: First click on the chapter you’re interested in and you’ll be directed to the chapter page where the lessons reside; and the page is divided into the following sections:

  1. Lesson’s body section (explanation).
  2. Quiz section, you shall find the tips just under it.
  3. Body section; where you type your code.
  4. Your code output section.

4 - data camp r programming courseNow, the pros and cons:

Pros

  1. Free.
  2. The course is well-structured and organized for beginners.

Cons

  1. There are no explanatory videos (only the interactive course) which might be a problem for beginners who prefer video courses.

Verdict: This is the best place for any beginner to start learning R programming through an interactive course.

Code School

Code School is the fifth free online outlet where beginners can start learning R programming online through an interactive course, you’ve to register in order to have access to the course.

Structure: The course is divided into 6 chapters, each chapter covers various topics in R programming.

Interface: First click on the chapter you’re interested in and you’ll be directed to the chapter page where the lessons reside.

5 - code school r programming courseNow, the pros and cons:

Pros

  1. Free.
  2. The course is well-organized for beginners.

Cons

  1. This course isn’t well-structured for beginners who are totally new to programming.

Verdict: This is a good outlet for any beginner to start learning R programming through an interactive course, through it’s worth noting that Data Camp has the better structured course for beginners.

Princeton University

Princeton University is the sixth free online outlet where beginners can start learning R programming online through a text-based tutorial, you don’t have to register to have access to the training.

Structured: The training is divided into 5 sections, each section is divided into lessons and each lesson covers a certain topic in  R programming.

Interface: The interface is very simple, just click on the lesson you’re interested in and you’ll be directed to the lesson’s page.

 6 - princeton university r programming trainingNow, the pros and cons:

Pros

  1. Free.
  2. The course is well-structured and organized for beginners.

Cons

  1. The training is available as text only which might be a problem for beginners who prefer video tutorials.

Verdict: This is the best place for any beginner to start learning R programming through a text-based training.

Statmethods

Statmethods (Quick R) is the seventh free online outlet where beginners can start learning R programming through a text based tutorials, you don’t have to register to have access to the training.

Structure: The training is divided into 7 sections, each section is divided into lessons and each of the lessons covers a certain topic in R programming.

Interface: The interface is very simple, just click on the section you’re interested in and you’ll be directed to a new page where you can select the lesson you’re interested in and start learning right away.

7 - statmethods r programming trainingNow, the pros and cons:

Pros

  1. Free.
  2. The training is well-organized for beginners.

Cons

  1. The training isn’t as well structured as the training on Princeton University website.

Verdict: This is a good outlet for any beginner to start learning R programming through a text based training, through it’s worth noting that Princeton University has a better structured training for beginners.

Bottom Line

The recipe for learning R programming for free

  1. Big Data University is the best outlet for beginners who prefer video courses.
  2. Data Camp is the best outlet for beginners who prefer interactive courses.
  3. Princeton University is the best outlet for beginners who prefer text based courses.
  4. If you prefer books then the two free books; R Tutorial and  An Introduction to Data Science are your best option.

Remember that the first step is always the toughest step, and the aim of this post is to provide you with resources that will help you take your first step in R programming.