Reading Creating and Importing data in R Lanugage

There are many ways to read data into R-Language.  We will learn here importing data in R Language too. We can also generate certain kind of patterned data too. Some of them are

  • Reading data from keyboard directly

    For small data (few observations) one can input data in vector form directly on R Console, such as
    y<-c(‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’)

    In vector form data can be on several lines by omitting the right parentheses, until the data are complete, such as

    Note that it is more convenient to use the scan function, which permits with the index of the next entry.

    Using Scan Function

    For small data set it is better to read data from console by using scan function. The data can be entered on separate line, by using single space and/or tab. After entering complete required data, pressing twice the enter key will terminate the scanning.

            3 4 5
            4 5 6 7
            2 3 4 5 6 6

    Reading String Data using “what” Option

    y<-scan(what=” “)
    red green blue

    The scan function can be used to import data. The scan function returns a list or a vector while read.table function returns a dataframe. It means that scan function is less useful for imputing “rectangular” type data.

  • Reading data from ASCII or plain text file into R as dataframe

    The read.table function read any type of delimited ASCII file. It can be numeric and character values. Reading data into R by read.table is easiest and most reliable method. The default delimiter is blank space.

    data<-read.table(file=file.choose()) #select from dialog box
    data<-read.table(“”, header=TRUE)) # read from web site

    Note that read.table command can also be used for reading data from computer disk by providing appropriate path in inverted commas such as

    data<-read.table(“D:/data.txt”, header=TRUE)) # read from your computer

    For missing data, read.table will did not work and you will receive an error. For missing values the easiest way to fix this error, change the type of delimiter by using sep argument to specify the delimiter.

    data<-read.table(“http//”, header=TRUE, sep=”,”))

    Comma delimited files can be read in by read.table function and sep argument, but it can also be read in by the read.csv function specifically written for comma delimited files. To display the contents of the file use print function, or file name.


    Reading in fixed formatted files

    To read data in fixed format use read.fwf function and argument width is used to indicate the width (number of columns) for each variables. In this format variable names are not there in first line, therefore they must be added after read in the data. Variable names are added by dimnames function and the bracket notation to indicate that we are attaching names to the variables (columns) of the data file. Any how there are several different ways to to this task.

    data<-read.fwf(“”, width=c(8,1,3,1,1,1))
                dimnames(data)[[2]]<-c(“v1”, “v2”, “v3”, “v4”, “v5″,”v6”)

  • Importing Data In R

    Importing data in R is fairly simple. For Stata and Systat, use the foreign package. For SPSS and SAS recommended package is Hmisc package for ease and functionality. See the Quick-R section on packages, for information on obtaining and installing the these packages. Example of importing data in R are provided below.

    From Excel
    On windows systems you can use the RODBC package to access Excel files. The first row of excel file should contain variable/column names.

    # Excel file name is myexcel and WorkSheet name is mysheet

    channel <- odbcConnectExcel(“c:/myexel.xls”)
    mydata <- sqlFetch(channel, “mysheet”)

    From SPSS
    # First save SPSS dataset in trasport format

    get file=’c:\data.sav’.
    export outfile=’c:\data.por’.

    # in R
    mydata <- spss.get(“c:/data.por”, use.value.labels=TRUE)
    # “use.value.labels” option converts value labels to R factors.

    From SAS
    # save SAS dataset in trasport format
    libname out xport ‘c:/mydata.xpt’;

    # in R
    mydata <- sasxport.get(“c:/data.xpt”)
    # character variables are converted to R factors

    From Stata
    # input Stata file
    mydata <- read.dta(“c:/data.dta”)

    From systat
    # input Systat file
    mydata <- read.systat(“c:/mydata.dta”)

  • Accessing Data in R Library

    Many of the R libraries including CAR library contains data sets. For example to access the Duncan dataframe from the CAR library in R type the following command on R Console


Some Important Commands for dataframes

data    #displays the entire data set on command editor
head(data)    #displays the first 6 rows of dataframe
tail(data)    #displays the last 6 rows of dataframe
str(data)    #displays the names of variable and their types
names(data)    #shows the variable names only
rename(V1,Variable1, dataFrame=data)    # renames V1 to variable 1; note that epicalc package must be installed.
ls()    #shows a list of objects that are available
attach(data)    #attached the dataframe to the R search path, which makes it easy to access variables names.

Muhammad Imdad Ullah

Currently working as Assistant Professor of Statistics in Ghazi University, Dera Ghazi Khan. Completed my Ph.D. in Statistics from the Department of Statistics, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan. l like Applied Statistics, Mathematics, and Statistical Computing. Statistical and Mathematical software used is SAS, STATA, GRETL, EVIEWS, R, SPSS, VBA in MS-Excel. Like to use type-setting LaTeX for composing Articles, thesis, etc.

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