Workshop materials: Using R Markdown to generate reports and manuscripts (+ an accidental narrative)

This past Tuesday we had our second R-Ladies #LdnOnt meet up of the year. The topic was using R Markdown to generate summary reports and manuscripts, led by yours truly. The original purpose of this post was to merely alert you, dear readers (all three of you) to the existence of the materials for this workshop, which are now posted online on our Github

⚠️ Consider this a warning that all that lies ahead for the remainder of this post is narrative text; all useful links and tidbits related to the main title of this post can be found at the link above. You may casually exit now if you so choose. 🚪

…But oops I did it again and accidentally launched myself into a rambling, quasi-related narrative on just how cool it has been to meet the women that have come to make our group what it is up to this point. You see, despite being one of the group’s organizers for over a year now, until this week I hadn’t yet led a session. This was intentional; Sally and I decided early on that we would try to outsource our presenters as much as possible. For the entirety of our first year running the chapter, Sally and I essentially agreed that we would not be the ones to lead an R-Ladies session unless we absolutely could not find anyone else.

Why bother to make this decision, you wonder? Well, there are seemingly obvious answers I could point to that link back to the Mind Games underlying the fear of starting something like R-Ladies in the first place: 1) fear of not being “expert” enough, 2) deeply rooted introversion and anxiety with the power to render me the color of a lobster when talking to any more than three people at a time, and 3) the sheer time-commitment of leading a session on top of organizing the events smack in the middle of doing a PhD. Yadayadayada.

However, I can also provide counter-evidence as to why the Mind Games did not actually play a role in this organizational call. Firstly, we threw the “expert-enough” criteria out long ago in our early days of creation; we have consistently encouraged our community members to present on topics they’ve learned about, regardless of how “expert” they perceive themselves to be. Secondly, despite my lobster colouring and incurable introversion, I actually enjoy teaching. My sample n for concluding this is admittedly rather small, but I can honestly say that presenting tutorials on topics I love brings me immense joy. Finally, time-commitment, shmime-commitment. Okay, that one was a biggie, but the glorious power of co-organization would have lessened the temporal demands of putting together a presentation.

The real reason that Sally and I decided not to present, instead seeking out other women in the community to do so, was that we simply knew these women were out there and wanted them to join our group. We were hopeful that, with just the right amount of pleading balanced with what we perceived to be the obvious inherent value of what we were offering, the R-savvy women in our lives (or soon to be in our lives) would agree to present. And they did, oh they did! We have had shockingly little difficulty (for the most part) finding presenters; in fact, we’ve had far less difficulty finding presenters than getting word out about the group in general. Not only that, but these ladies have been enthusiastic to hop on board. This was never as obvious to us as it was towards the end of last summer. We were preparing for our fall meet up schedule, and sent an email out to all of our members encouraging them to consider leading a tutorial on a topic they loved. We had a follow-up email planned, complete with teeth-pulling, guilt-tripping tactics aimed to coerce people into leading a workshop or two. Fortunately for everyone involved, there was absolutely no need for this. Multiple members responded to our email, saying they’d be more than happy to present at future meet ups. We were beyond thrilled.

So, after all that’s been said, why did I bother leading a tutorial at all then? Are we short on speakers? No, actually - in fact we do not have enough dates to accomodate all them women we want to feature before breaking for a summer hiatus (though in all honesty, we were a little nervous about some of our spring dates for a hot second, but that fear quickly abated because people are awesome). Rather, these women have made it look like so much fun, and I simply wanted to play. Hope you enjoy the materials.