I'm interested in learning R on the cheap. What's the best free resource/book/tutorial for learning R?

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21 Answers 21

up vote 57 down vote accepted

Some useful R links (find out the link that suits you):


with a focus on economics:

Graphics: plots, maps, etc.:


Time series & finance:

Data / text mining:

Other statistical techniques:


Interfacing w/ other languages / software:

Blogs, newsletters, etc.:

Other / uncategorized: (as of yet)

  • 5
    This list was becoming less usable. It needs to be organized & at least somewhat standardized to be useful. However, there is no reason to think my reworked version is ideal; eg I'm not familiar w/ all the links. People w/ more expertise should feel free to add / change / shuffle or otherwise reorganize. – gung Jun 12 '12 at 18:15

If I had to choose one thing, make sure that you read "The R Inferno".

There are many good resources on the R homepage, but in particular, read "An Introduction to R" and "The R Language Definition".

  • Agreed, though I'd choose it as my second book, after R Cookbook (O'Reilly) (not free!) R Inferno felt like Cookbook Part 2. – Darren Cook Jan 6 '12 at 4:19
  • burns-stat.com/pages/Tutor/hints_R_begin.html is sort of Circle 0 of 'The R Inferno'. I agree with Darren -- I don't see the Inferno as introductory. – Patrick Burns Feb 21 '12 at 16:46

Quick-R can be a good place to start.

A little bit data mining oriented R and Data Mining resources: Examples and Case Studies and R Reference Card for Data Mining.

Try IPSUR, Introduction to Probability and Statistics Using R. It's a free book, free in the GNU sense of the word.


It's definitely open source - on the download page you can download the LaTeX source or the lyx source used to generate this.

The official guides are pretty nice; check out http://cran.r-project.org/manuals.html . There is also a lot of contributed documentation there.

If you're an economist/econometrician then Grant Farnworth's paper on using R is indispensable and is available on CRAN at: http://cran.r-project.org/doc/contrib/Farnsworth-EconometricsInR.pdf

If you have experience in other languages, these "R Rosetta Stone" videos may be useful:

  1. Python
  3. SQL

These are all included in the video list added by Jeromy, so big +1 for his list.

One resource is 'Some hints for the R beginner' at http://www.burns-stat.com/pages/Tutor/hints_R_begin.html

I have written a document that is freely available at my website and on CRAN. See the linked page:


The datasets that are used in the document are also linked from that page. Feedback is welcome and appreciated!


After you learn the basics, I find the following sites very useful:

  1. R-bloggers.
  2. Subscribing to the Stack overflow R tag.

A large number of short videos that cover a lot of useful tasks with R (91 videos as of March 2013): http://www.twotorials.com/

Here's a nice new interactive online tutorial on the basics of R: http://tryr.codeschool.com/

The R project website has lots of manuals to start, and I suggest you the Nabble R forum and the R-bloggers site as well.

If you already know another programming language, these notes may help point out some of the ways R might surprise you.

I liked these lectures: Statistical Aspects of Data Mining. The lecturer is solving example problems using R.

If you are coming from a SAS or SPSS background, check out:


This is the companion site to the book, R for SAS and SPSS Users by Robert Muenchen and a free version of the book can be found here.

One more: R bloggers has many posts with tutorials materials:


Look for R Users Groups in your area. They are growing around the world.


If you don't have one then help get one started. I'm sure you will be able to find like minded interested folks.

As for helpful links the Dallas R Users Group has a nice list.


http://www.datamind.org offers interactive R tutorials, currently focused at real beginners

If you'd like a beginners tutorial to R in the context of Econometrics this may be a good starting point as well: http://www.quandl.com/learn/working-with-quandl-and-r

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