As a chemistry major, I didn’t take a single computer science class during my college years. However, after coming to graduate school, I quickly realized how important computational skills are in this era of big data — especially with regard to genomic datasets.

During my first year of graduate school, rotations through computational labs helped me learn the ropes for a few scripting languages, like R, Python and Bash. But it wasn’t until my third year that I first heard about TidyTuesday, a Twitter initiative aimed at creating a community for new and experienced R learners.

TidyTuesday and Diversity in Coding

A friend and I were attending an event held by Baltimore R-Ladies, a chapter of a global organization aimed at promoting gender diversity in the R statistical language user community. The event was aimed at teaching users how to create web apps using R, and the speaker brought up TidyTuesday. Each week, the TidyTuesday website publishes a new dataset. Participants are encouraged to play with the dataset, exploring different ways to slice and dice the data and create visualizations. Analysis code and data visualizations can then be shared on Twitter using the #TidyTuesday hashtag.

A Passionate Community

I’ve participated in TidyTuesday several times. Each time, I’ve had the opportunity to expand my data science toolkit — learning how to conduct sentiment analyses, working with geographical data and trying out new packages. Additionally, the community is incredibly supportive and encouraging. When I posted a question asking for code help, several people responded with advice and suggestions. Most people share github code for their visualizations, providing ample resources to learn from. Some participants even livestream their data analysis, allowing new users to understand workflows and see how R users code in real time.

TidyTuesday is a great option for those who are thinking of dipping their toes into the world of R statistical programming. If you’re new to R and want to learn, I would highly recommend participating!

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