Data Science in Education Using R by (and a little beyond) the numbers


Data Science in Education Using R is done!

Here’s us (with a few of us a bit in the dark), right around when we clicked “send” on an email with links/attachments for what was a two-year project.

Data Science in Education Using R by the numbers

The project involved a lot of steps, and it is possible, particularly because of the way in which we wrote the book in the open, to describe the process by the numbers.


The book was written using which was written in R Markdown; from the start, the files were stored in a GitHub repository for the project.

The rendered book

We “rendered” (and have continuously updated) the book as a website via bookdown and, to submit to the publisher, as a number of Word documents, also (mostly) via bookdown. Not to dish on Microsoft Word, but I believe it along with GitHub were the only software or tools we used that were not open: R, RStudio, git, bookdown, and the R packages we used are open-source software1.


We also used Slack to stay in touch.


We met regularly.

Data Science in Education Using R beyond the numbers

The above numbers tells a story, but only a part of it, and maybe not the most important part. It is harder to quantify the story of the book: its premise, the challenges we faced, how we overcame them, and how the five of us who wrote it collectively shaped the direction and its nature.

Our work styles, strengths and priorities, and the goals each of us had for the book worked together in a way that led to something that would have not worked, or led to an incomplete story, had any of us been missing.

In this way, neither the above numbers or the story of my experience alone begin to fully capture the process we took over the past two years. On that note, then, thanks Ryan, Emily, Jesse, and Isabella. I cannot imagine a better group of co-authors (and friends) to write this book with; working with folks with the combined substantive and technical expertise and with whom you share a vision is p < .001.

It’s probably worth mentioning that we met and got to know one another through Twitter and then Slack (apart from Emily and I, who knew the other through our graduate program at Michigan State University). It is hard for me to imagine another way through which five authors working in different (for many of us, changing) capacities in education could meet and decide to write an open book using tools that are primarily used in software development (git/GitHub) or writing technical books (bookdown). Doing this in the domain of education made this special, I think.


This is in the Dedications section of the book; for my part, the book is dedicated to Katie, Jonah, Teri, Joel, Aaron, and Jess (alongside Ryan, Emily, Jesse, and Isabella’s dedications)


I’d also like to recognize a few folks who - were they to read this - might be surprised: Thank you Andrea Zellner, for opening the door to my use of R, and Tenglong Li and Matt Koehler for encouraging and supporting me to grow as someone who uses R. Thanks to Leigh Graves Wolf for introducing me to the idea of sharing one’s work in the open and why it matters, and to both Leigh and Bodong Chen for exemplifying doing this; a repository Bodong shared nearly seven years ago was the first I encountered by anyone in education, and was a bit of a revelation.


I’d also like to echo our acknowledgments to those who contributed to the book in capacities other than as authors. These contributions made the book better in a way that only those coming to the topic from a similar perspective but different expertise can.

Next steps

The book will be copy-edited and then proofed, and, then, will be available in print and e-book format. We’ll have a few things to do, too; we plan to keep working together. In the short term, we want to document some of the technical aspects of rendering the book, especially where it comes to meeting the publisher specifications, now, while they’re fresh in our minds. We’ll continue to edit the book now and going forward - it’s alive! - so, please feel free to make suggestions or edit the book. For now, you can find the book here: Even after the book is published, the most up-to-date version will always be available there.

  1. In addition, the {dataedu} R package accompanying the book and the book itself are open-source