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Research & Programming Languages?


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Hey all.  I've been seeing advice that knowledge of programming can be super helpful when it comes to getting positions in labs/grad schools, so I figured that I'd take the plunge and start learning.  The trouble is I'm not entirely sure what programming language to start with - can anyone tell me what are the most common programming languages they come across when it comes to working in a psych lab?  

I feel like I've seen Python being mentioned, but other than that I have no idea.

Edited by alwayscaffeinated
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Matlab and R are also very frequently used. Learning one language is hard enough so you can always just start with Python. I've heard it's a good 1st language to learn. 

This has been a goal of mine as well but unfortunately haven't progressed too much yet!  What resources are you planning to use to learn?

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Hi there!

 I have been for the last two years focusing on developing programming skills that would be necessary for my PhD, so I have some insight on this. If you have never ever ever done any programming, but you have some idea of stats because of your education, then start with R. I did it that way and it was super easy. I just learnt how to do some basic analyses, cleaning data, and stuff like that.  I used Daniel Navarro's book: 

http://www.lulu.com/shop/daniel-navarro/learning-statistics-with-r/paperback/product-22049492.html 

    and it was AWESOME (Im a bit of a stats freak as you can see).

 Then, once I knew the basics of how programming works, then I jumped into Matlab, which is necessary for almost all experiments (unless you use E-prime or Experiment Builder, but that won't take you too far). For that, I took a free (although if you pay 30 dollars you can get a certificate) coursera module called "Introduction to Matlab" or something like that, offered my University of Vanderbilt. It was very very good, in my opinion. They assume you know nothing about programming so they start from zero. When you finish the course you are able to understand most Matlab scripts and even write some complex programs.  Also, check out this book, which is oriented to behavioural scientists:

https://www.amazon.es/MATLAB-Behavioral-Scientists-David-Rosenbaum/dp/0805863192

 I loved Matlab so much I have now started Java by using Processing. I have found out now that knowing R and Matlab makes understanding the rest of the languages super easy - they use the same idea but use different structure. 

 I really think programming is nowadays necessary if you want to be an independent researcher, so you might as well start soon learning and loving it!

 

Hope this helps :)

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14 hours ago, TinaPsyc said:

received my first rejection from uvic, didn't have high hopes for getting in there anyways, no interview. good luck to everyone else who applied there ☺

 

13 hours ago, FluffyPancakes said:

TinaPsyc, you are not alone.  I Just received my rejection letter from uvic.  Congrats to those accepted and good luck to the wait listed hopefuls.  Anyways, I wish you the best of luck with your other prospects! 

Hey sorry to hear that guys! Did you receive an email or a letter in the mail? Could you also please tell me if your portal updated on the application site? I have not heard anything from UVic yet

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Like others have said, R and Matlab are the main ones. R is itself open source, and if you already have a strong background in stats it might be easier to learn. Matlab's open source equivalent is called Octave. 

As far as programming goes, it becomes easier to pick up languages once you have a solid background in one language. Learning the language itself is secondary IMO to becoming comfortable with data structure concepts and just learning / developing good programming fundamentals. In that regard I think Python is a pretty good language to start with.

 

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11 hours ago, eveline said:

Matlab and R are also very frequently used. Learning one language is hard enough so you can always just start with Python. I've heard it's a good 1st language to learn. 

This has been a goal of mine as well but unfortunately haven't progressed too much yet!  What resources are you planning to use to learn?

There are some free apps in the Google Play Store (don't know if they're also in the App store for iPhones) that are aimed at teaching beginners.  Not sure which apps are best, so I'm just starting with Learn Python by SoloLearn.

Technically I took a couple of programming courses back in high school (Java and C# maybe?) although I barely remember anything from then.  Other than "Hello World" maybe haha.

Thank you guys so much for your responses!  Immensely helpful. :)

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17 hours ago, superfruitpsych said:

 

Hey sorry to hear that guys! Did you receive an email or a letter in the mail? Could you also please tell me if your portal updated on the application site? I have not heard anything from UVic yet

I received an emailed rejection letter.  I'll check the portal and confirm it has updated tonight. :) 

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