Branding and Packaging Reports with R Markdown

The creation of research reports and manuscripts is a critical aspect of the work conducted by organizations and individual researchers. Most often, this process involves copying and pasting output...

Branding and Packaging Reports with R Markdown

February 6, 2020

The creation of research reports and manuscripts is a critical aspect of the work conducted by organizations and individual researchers. Most often, this process involves copying and pasting output from many different analyses into a separate document. Especially in organizations that produce annual reports for repeated analyses, this process can also involve applying incremental updates to annual reports. It is important to ensure that all relevant tables, figures, and numbers within the text are updated appropriately. Done manually, these processes are often error prone and inefficient. R Markdown is ideally suited to support these tasks. With R Markdown, users are able to conduct analyses directly in the document or read in output from a separate analyses pipeline. Tables, figures, and in-line results can then be dynamically populated and automatically numbered to ensure that everything is correctly updated when new data is provided. Additionally, the appearance of documents rendered with R Markdown can be customized to meet specific branding and formatting requirements of organizations and journals. In this presentation, we will present one implementation of customized R Markdown reports used for Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems (ATLAS) at the University of Kansas. A publicly available R package, ratlas, provides both Microsoft Word and LaTeX templates for different types of projects at ATLAS with their own unique formatting requirements. We will discuss how to create brand-specific templates, as well as how to incorporate the templates into an R package that can be used to unify report creation across an organization. We will also describe other components of branding reports beyond R Markdown templates, including customized ggplot2 themes, which can also be wrapped into the R package. Finally, we will share lessons learned from incorporating the R package workflow into an existing reporting pipeline.

About the speaker

Jake Thompson

Jake Thompson is a senior psychometrician for Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems at the University of Kansas. He received his PhD from the University of Kansas in Educational Psychology, with an emphasis in research, evaluation, measurement, and statistics. In his current role, Jake supports multiple assessment projects aimed at improving learning and educational outcomes for students, particularly those with disabilities. To support this work, he has created both internal and external R packages to estimate statistical models, facilitate annual data analyses, and create branded research reports. He has presented his work to technical and non-technical audiences at project governance boards and national conferences (e.g., National Council on Measurement in Education, American Educational Research Association). He has also taught workshops on how to use R for data analysis (https://tidy-ds.wjakethompson.com).