Cool Stuff: RStudio

I have been using Rstudio quite sometime for academic paper writing, because the platform incorporates both data analysis and LaTeX editing. Give it a bit more elaboration. We used to do the data analysis work in STATA, save the output (graphs and tables) from it, and then open TexShop to type the paper. Expectedly, lots of quantitative scientists are carrying out this workflow, while all of us have been haunted by going back to the drudgery of data work again and again and constantly replacing graphs and tables upon referees’ requests. Therefore, imagine how exhilarated we are when our code for data analysis and code for paper typesetting can run hand in hand in a harmonious way; especially the paper generated in seconds looks shiny.

An active promoter for this is Thomas, my second supervisor. He has urged me to entirely abandon STATA long time ago. He would frown on me every time when I brought him some outputs from STATA, and deeply sighed, “you know, you should use R…” This funny, occasionally geeky, and family-caring economist–oh I just know too much about him–is enchanted by Rstudio. Obviously he has found the remedy for his lifelong headache. I wasn’t particularly into the nitty-gritty of this tool, but given the fact that I am going to meet him quite often, I downloaded Rstudio and toyed with it.

Although the tool Sweave (now evolving into knitr, which is much handier with different output format thanks to Yihui Xie) has been developed for years, it seems relatively few researchers are using it. Some econometricians maybe, but not very widespread among empirical economists for sure. The common practice of reproducible research is still in its infancy. Path dependency and inertia slows transmission of new things always. If you are an aspiring quantitative scientist and wanna advance to the technical frontiers, you might seriously give some thought to it. Lastly, let me share with you Thomas’ lively excitement when he was looking at the screen once upon a time:

Quotation mark, this is (a pause), so (gasp, and a much longer pause) cooooooool (in a blaring voice, and incessant echoes, yeah, I mean it), exclamation, exclamation, exclamation, backward quotation mark.


Figure: A Toy Demonstration of the R Markdown Document.

June 2015, Amsterdam.


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