What R Packages Should I Install

R Programming

As a data scientist, one of the first things I do when setting up my coding environment is to install the necessary R packages. R packages are collections of functions, data, and documentation that extend the capabilities of the R programming language. They are essential tools that help streamline coding tasks, provide access to additional statistical methods, and offer visualization capabilities.

Choosing which R packages to install can be overwhelming, as there are thousands of packages available on the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN) and other repositories. In this article, I will share my personal recommendations for essential R packages that every data scientist should consider installing. Please note that these recommendations are based on my own experiences and preferences, and may vary depending on your specific needs and workflows.

1. dplyr

When it comes to data manipulation and transformation, the dplyr package is a game-changer. It provides a consistent and intuitive syntax for performing common data wrangling tasks such as filtering, selecting, mutating, and summarizing data. With dplyr, you can write cleaner and more efficient code, making your data analysis workflows much more manageable.

2. ggplot2

ggplot2 is a powerful data visualization package that allows you to create stunning and professional-looking graphics. It follows the grammar of graphics principles, making it highly flexible and customizable. With ggplot2, you can easily create scatter plots, bar charts, line graphs, and more. Its extensive documentation and active user community make it a popular choice for data visualization in R.

3. tidyr

The tidyr package is a companion to dplyr and provides tools for tidy data formatting and reshaping. It helps you convert messy data into a clean and structured format, making it easier to work with. tidyr offers functions like gather() and spread(), which allow you to convert data between wide and long formats effortlessly. If you deal with complex datasets that require extensive data cleaning and reshaping, tidyr is a must-have package.

4. caret

If you are involved in machine learning or predictive modeling, the caret package is a must-have. caret, short for Classification And REgression Training, provides a unified interface for training and evaluating a wide range of machine learning models. It handles tasks such as preprocessing, feature selection, model tuning, and performance evaluation. With caret, you can quickly experiment with different algorithms and optimize model performance.

5. magrittr

The magrittr package introduces the pipe operator (%>%) to R, which allows you to write code in a more readable and expressive way. The pipe operator enables you to chain together multiple operations without the need for nested function calls or intermediate variables. It greatly improves code readability and reduces the need for temporary variables, making your code more concise and easier to understand.


In conclusion, choosing the right R packages to install is essential for any data scientist looking to enhance their coding workflow and analysis capabilities. The recommended packages I have discussed in this article – dplyr, ggplot2, tidyr, caret, and magrittr – are just a starting point. The R ecosystem is vast, and there are many other packages available for various specialized tasks and domains. As you progress in your data science journey, don’t hesitate to explore and experiment with different packages to find the ones that best suit your needs and preferences.