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About this Short-Course

Do you understand the basics of using R, but remain frustrated with creating good-looking figures?

Do you need to prepare some publication-quality figures for your next paper but don't know where to start?

Do you feel held back by base-R's built-in plotting tools and want to up your game with ggplot2?

If you've answered yes to any of these questions, then this short-course is definitely for you.

This is the course on data visualization in R that I wish I had when I started as a graduate student, and I built it to cover all the essential tools you need to know for quickly beginning to make professional and publication-quality figures in R. The best part is that I am able to cover all the essential basics in just this three-hour short-course!

By the end of the short-course you will be able to confidently:
  • Create simple figures using R's base package
  • Export and save figures from R Studio
  • Understand how the ggplot2 system works on a conceptual and technical level
  • Plot the five most common types of ecology figures with ggplot2:
  • Scatterplots
  • Boxplots
  • Lineplots
  • Histograms
  • Point and whisker plots
  • Customize the look and feel of all of your plots.
  • Add custom annotations to plots using arrows, lines, or text.
  • Create publication-quality figures using plotting best-practices


What this course does not cover:
To fit the essentials of learning how to visualize data with R into this short-course I was not able to cover everything. So this course does not cover:
  • Data analysis or modeling
  • GIS or spatial visualization
  • Advanced topics in visualization such as interactive plots or visualizations that go beyond the five most common plot-types listed above.

What kind of plots will I learn?

There are countless different types of data visualizations even in ecology. However, there are five main types of figures that show up frequently because they are really good at what they do--visualizing data simply and effectively.

Line Plots
Box Plots

Point and Whisker Plots

Scatter Plots


Plot annotations

* you will learn how to make all of these plots (and more!) in this course

"Luka has been a great help to a previous project of mine in the past and was extremely patient with me as an undergraduate student who hadn't worked in ecology for very long. His extensive knowledge in R and calm demeanor makes him a great teacher for this course!"

~ Dylan Stephens, ecology student

Your instructor

Luka Negoita, PhD

I believe the fundamental beauty of the natural world comes from understanding the stories behind the patterns we see.

I received my PhD in Biology from Syracuse University in 2018 where I specialized in analyzing ecological data using R. I also love teaching and have mentored countless students and scientists in everything from experimental design to using R for creating figures for their publication. Have messy data? Let me help you clean it. Have some numbers? Let me help you tell your story.

Along with the academic skills and hacks I've learned along the way, I present these courses as my way of helping the next generation of grad students in ecology.

Luka Negoita portrait

Course Curriculum

  1 Welcome to the course!
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  2 The basics of the basics
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  3 Data visualization best practices
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  4 Introduction to ggplot2
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  5 A few more of the most common plots in ecology (with ggplot2!)
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  6 Wrapping up and next steps
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Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?

The course is a completely self-paced online course, so you decide when you start and when you finish.

How long do I have access to the course?

How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own!

What if I am unhappy with the course?

We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

Can I get a certificate for completing this course?

Yes, absolutely! Everyone that completes this course will receive an official certificate of completion.

What if I'm not an ecologist? Is the course still relevant?

Yes! Though the course is based on my own experiences of using R for ecology, all of the course content will be applicable and relevant for most other fields in biology if not many fields even outside the sciences. The course uses ecological datasets, but the principles are mostly universal.

Does it matter if I use a Mac or PC?

Nope! Although the course is taught using a Mac, the content and features in R and R Studio are universal between the two operating systems and I mention anytime there is a difference between the two.

How much do I have to know about R or statistics to take this course?

This is an intermediary course that builds up from my course on the Basics of R (for ecologists), so you don't need to know any statistics, but you should at least have a basic grasp of R as a prerequisite for this course. The course is designed to take you from the basics learned in the last course to more advanced methods of plotting data, so if you are a complete beginner, I highly recommend you check out my other course on the Basics of R which covers ALL of the essential basics.

Are the courses captioned?

Yes! All videos are captioned with english subtitles that meet accessibility standards.

But what if I still need to learn the basics of using R?

Check out my other course on The Basics of R (for ecologists)! 👉

"Luka has a knack for finding the most understandable and innovative ways of breaking down and explaining processes. Luka undoubtedly made my relationship with R and statistical analysis less complicated!"
Esme, Biologist and Research Assistant

"Luka is perfect for teaching a course on R for budding ecologists—he has a strong theoretical background in ecology, numerous experiences in field- and greenhouse-based studies, a knack for data analyses, and a life-long passion to teach.

I highly recommend The Basics of R for Ecologists to undergraduate and graduate students involved in ecological research."

Dr. Nishanta RajakarunaAssociate Professor in Plant Biology, CalPoly State University