The R Statistical Computing Language is free, the code is transparent to the user, and it has the most sophisticated specialized functions (called packages or libraries) compared to its competitors, SPSS, SAS, and Stata. This is a quick and easy way to teach yourself how to use the R Statistical Computing Language.
1) Download and install R from this site: http://cran.wustl.edu/.
2) Start it and make sure you get 4 when you type in “2+2” at the prompt. This way we know it works on your computer.
3) Read this Introduction to R at http://cran.r-project.org/doc/manuals/r-devel/R-intro.pdf. As you read through you will see example commands. Once you get to Section 2 on p. 7, try to run all of the commands on your personal copy of R. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with the program, and make sure the commands work for you. It also slowly familiarizes you with the R-way of seeing the world, which is not at all like Excel. The reason to skip the commands in Section 1 is that some of them are for the Unix operating system only and would cause an error for Windows or MAC users. Once you get to the end of the intro, you can circle back and try to run the commands in section 1, but you may have to use different syntax for them to work on Windows or Mac. They are logically first from a programmer’s perspective, but not the best for beginners. Number 3 is a lot of work and requires focus. Most beginners will want to commit 1 hour per day to the task, but it is well worth it.