Scientific visualisation using R

24-25 September 2019


Participants will be able to apply R as a powerful tool to visualize their data sets using state-of-the-art tools of the R ecosystem.

Particularly, they are going to learn:

  • basic design principles and guidelines for visualisations.
  • the application of highly efficient and elegant libraries such as ggplot2 and the integration into the tidyverse.
  • how to use R to create specialized visualisations such as geographic maps, interactive (web) graphics and multipanel conditioning plots.


Content and requirements

Visualisations can decide about the success of scientific lectures, poster presentations or journal articles. In this course you will get a very brief introduction into general design principles and guidelines for data visualisations. Based on this theoretical framework we will spend most of the course time to learn how to use R as a powerful graphical software to create a wide range of customised graphics that include - but are not limited to - traditional scatter plots, bar plots, mosaic plots, box plots, density plots, violin plots, and interactive graphics as well as grid-based geographic maps and state-of-the-art multipanel conditioning plots (and many more).

You will learn about the two pillars of the R graphics systems, i.e. Traditional and Grid graphics. The course focuses on the latter system and more recent developments such as ggplot2 and other advanced libraries based on the “The grammar of graphics”-concept.

Depending on the course progress, there will be scope for students to work on small projects and / or their own data sets.


Course outline:

1) General Design Principles
2) Traditional graphics
3) Grid graphics (Focus: ggplot2)
4) Specialized visualisation (maps, interactive web graphics, etc.)


The completion of an homework will be requested after the end of the course (deadline: 16 October 2019).

Requirements for attending and completing the workshop

Familiarity with R before attending the workshop or previous attendance of an introductory course to R.

For information: An Introduction to R, 4-7 June 2019, University of Lausanne

Bring your own laptop to the workshop with recent versions of R and R-Studio installed. Make sure that your laptop is properly connecting to the University of Neuchâtel or eduroam WLAN.


Course completion requirements:

  • Attendance - Presence and active participation is required during the entire course.
  • Home work - Participants are required to hand in a home work consisting of several exercises before 16 October 2019.

Please, reserve a day after the course for the completion of the homework!

1.0 ECTS will be attributed only after the completion of the homework. Certificates will be sent by post-mail.

General information

Dates: 24-25 September 2019

Schedule: 8.55-17.00

Venue:  University of Neuchâtel, Faculté des Sciences, Emile-Argand 11, UniMail, building E, room E326

ECTS: 1.0 (Research tools)

Evaluation: Full attendance, active participation plus completion of an assigned homework (see above)

Information: Please contact the doctoral program coordinator Dr Sara Santi

Registration fee: free (no meals expenses reimbursement)

Travel expenses: For participants of the Interuniversity doctoral program in organismal biology (DPOB ): see reimbursement conditions


Make sure to sign the attendance sheet each and every day of the course.


  • This course is free and open to all PhD students, however until 25 August 2019 priority is given to "Interuniversity doctoral program in Organismal Biology" participants.
  • Post-docs are welcome as long as places are available.
  • Limited number of participants: maximum 16 people.

Registration through the web only: Closed The course is full.

Please note the cancellation policy (CHF 50).

Deadline: 8 September 2019