When trying to solve a problem, part of the process is to research what attempts have been made by others. The most common form of research is to query a search portal. One downside to this approach is that each search portal has its own set of operators or query phrasing that will yield relevant content. As a result, those that have domain knowledge are able to format the search query in a way that is better. Still many queries are not constrained enough to the programming language being used. The goal of searcher is to attempt to address both needs by providing a convenient pre-specified search interface that tailors the results to R.


To begin using searcher, first install the package from CRAN.

# Install the searcher package if not already installed

Once installed, searching with searcher is done by using one or more of the search_*() functions. To access these functions, either use a namespace function call of searcher::search_*() or load the searcher package and, then, call the function.

# Loads the searcher package

# Searches using Google for `tips`

Search Operators

Within the searcher package, each search_*() function has the parameter of rlang = TRUE. By default, this enforces a search that guarantees R-specific results. If rlang = FALSE, then the results are generalized.

  • Search Engines
    • All search engines affix "r programming" to the end of the query to constrain the results to be R-specific.
    • "r programming" was selected because it performed best when compared to "rlang", "rstats", and "r language" on Google Trends.
  • Community Sites
  • Code Repositories

General Search Tips

To improve your R-related search query, it has been suggested to use:

  • "r how to do <x>"
    • "r how to remove legends in ggplot"
    • This is a baseline search query.
  • "<package name> <problem>"
    • "ggplot2 fix x-axis labels."
    • If the package is R-specific, it may help dropping r and instead focusing on the package name at the start of the query.
  • "r <package-name> <problem> <year> site:<specific-site>
    • "r ggplot2 center graph title 2018
    • By specifying the package name, a year, and target site the “freshest” solution will likely be found.

Suggestions here were pooled from discussion on rOpenSci’s slack with Steph Locke and Robert Mitchell.