R Statistical Application Development by Example Beginner’s Guide

R Statistical Application Development by ExampleR Statistical Application Development by Example Beginner’s Guide

Prabhanjan Narayanachar Tattar (2013)

Packt Publishing p.  344. ISBN 13 9781849519441

Caveat: I received free access to the pdf from the publisher in reciprocity for writing a review.

The choice of content: The content is easily understandable, it is explained at a level that a relatively inexperienced R user can easily follow. However, the book covers some subjects that are usually only described in books targeted at a much more experienced audience (and skips a few topics that are normally included). I think that the best approach to teaching statistics, is to present the subjects following the normal workflow. This order is only approximately followed in this book, and having a chapter about design of experiments and surveys, would have made the book more useful by highlighting that decisions made at this stage can have a profound impact on data analysis. R can also be useful when designing experiments and surveys, so this aspect could have been at least touched briefly. Although the book is written in English, it is likely that many readers will be using R on non-English locales. A brief mention of the problems arising when CSV files do not have the format expected by read.csv() may have been useful. Overall the emphasis is on survey data, and model fitting, with only a brief description of hypothesis testing. In spite of this, this book should be very useful to most inexperienced and intermediate users of R, although those working on some fields, will need to complement it with other books.

The clarity of presentation: The text is easy to understand and examples very well chosen. The statistical theory and R code examples are interspersed in chucks that are long enough not to interrupt the flow of explanations, while short enough to make the link between theory and code easily recognizable. The code examples use a consistent style for naming and spacing, and it works well.

The aesthetics of presentation: In one word, the inside of the book is ugly. The running text is reasonably well typeset. The typesetting of equations, is not that good, but they are still understandable. The real problem are the illustrations. Of course, in a book like this, it is best not to clutter the examples with commands or parameters needed to produce plots suitable for publication. However, global options could have been used. Depending on how sensitive to these issues you are, you may be to some extent distracted by them. These problems lowered very much my initial expectations on the quality of the contents, so the good approach and clear explanations came as a nice surprise.

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