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Data Carpentry is non-profit organization that develops and provides data skills training to researchers.

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    Every year the Data Carpentry Steering Committee members and Executive Director meet to review the previous year and strategically plan the next one. This year’s meeting was January 31 - February 1, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina, USA.

    We started with a review of the previous year, and Data Carpentry has grown in all of our areas of focus, including number of workshops, number of instructors, types of curriculum, increased output of communication, assessment efforts, mentorship, partnerships, development of policies, involvement in grants, hiring of staff, and moves towards financial sustainability.

    • We’ve gone from 31 workshops in 2015 to 78 in 2016.
    • Through onboarding and new instructors we now have 416 certified Data Carpentry instructors.
    • We have worked to put policies and processes in place that will help make activities scale more effectively and provide guidance and support to our volunteer instructors, as well as developing strategies for staff to prioritize and make progress on key projects.
    • We’ve increased volunteer engagement and communication with new blog series and guest posts from instructors.
    • With Software Carpentry we’ve built better ways to support the instructors, with debrief discussions that have been well attended, a mentorship subcommittee, and now a mentorship program for new instructors.
    • A significant shift over the last year has been an increased interest in development of curriculum, and we are working to support that interest.
    • We have also continued to gain visibility, with podcasts, mentions in articles and invitations to speak at and participate in conferences.

    We are excited for future opportunities and want to continue to focus on the community, re-commit to quality lessons, effective lesson infrastructure, and to building a sustainable organization. A set of motions and discussions guide those directions for the year ahead.


    Motion: We will begin a discussion with the Software Carpentry steering committee about a merger into a joint organization.

    Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry are two independently established and operated organizations, but we share a common goal of promoting education in reproducible science skills, both in data literacy (DC) and software development (SWC) and values of community. We work together to implement shared policies, memberships and coordinate staff and leadership. Given the increasing levels of integration between DC and SWC, the Data Carpentry Steering Committee passed this motion to begin discussions. Software Carpentry has passed the same motion.

    Motion: A major focus of staff effort over over the next 6 months will be to finalize the existing Ecology, Genomics and Geospatial lessons.

    Lessons in Ecology, Genomics and Geospatial data have been generated and taught. We commit to finalizing these lessons to create a positive and high-quality experience for both instructors and learners.

    Motion: A major focus of staff effort over the next 12 months will be building the necessary processes for scaling community-led lesson development and maintenance.

    With an increased interest in lesson development, a commitment to the process of lesson development and maintenance will make curriculum support and development sustainable and most effectively create lesson development opportunities for the community.

    Motion: Focus over the next 12 months on sustainability through increasing the number of Member Organizations and non-member-organization workshops.

    In order to align financial sustainability efforts with core activities, we will focus on our programs of offering workshops and Member Organization opportunities.

    Motion: We commit to working with the Carpentry community to develop and run a “CarpentryCon” in 2018.

    Conferences provide participants opportunities to expand knowledge and find solutions to problems, share ideas and work with others, meet other people and learn beyond their areas of interest and experience. The Carpentry community has expressed an interest in and would greatly benefit from a conference opportunity. We want to commit to a “CarpentryCon”, and to planning that will make this event as inclusive and representative as possible.

    Other Outcomes

    We are hiring a Community Development Lead who will focus on building community, and the Steering Committee enthusiastically supports this hire!

    Diversity is something that distinguishes us as an organization. It needs to continue to be a conscious effort, and we will be setting deliberate milestones to improve the diversity of our volunteers and the communities we reach, geographically and underserved groups within regions.

    We will work towards a process where individual lessons can be certified as Data Carpentry lessons, so we will have an ecosystem of both workshops that we offer and individual lessons. Data Carpentry has so far focused on lessons as a part of 2-day workshop curriculum. Often however there are topics or subjects that don’t require a full two days and could be taught as a part of a shorter workshop or as modules within longer courses, and this model will support the development of those types of lessons.

    As people who have been involved in Data Carpentry since its beginnings, we’ve been excited for the organization and community’s growth and move toward sustainability, and we look forward to more work and opportunities in the year ahead!

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  • 03/07/17--16:00: Get Involved With Mentoring
  • Are you a new Software or Data Carpentry instructor? Do you remember what it was like to be a new instructor? Are you interested in improving your own teaching skills? Do you want to connect with other instructors to share teaching ideas and experience?

    The mentoring committee is a group of Software and Data Carpentry community members who organize initiatives to support instructors and we’re looking for new members.

    The mentoring committee meets once a month to discuss current activities and new ideas, and we help organize the weekly instructor discussion sessions hosted on this etherpad.

    We would love to expand our activities and for all of our activities to be a true community-driven and community-owned effort. To make that happen, we need community members to join us! Anyone can be involved – the only criteria for membership is interest in how we can better support instructors and connect them with each other.

    Here are some ways to get involved:

    • Join the mentoring mailing list and/or attend next committee meeting (to be announced on this etherpad ).
    • Sign up to help with some of our main endeavors as described on this page.
    • If you have questions or suggestions about the mentoring committee, Christina Koch, outgoing committee chair, will be holding two informal FAQ sessions on Monday, March 13. There is information about these on the community calendar.

    We will also be selecting new positions in the committee next week – if you’d like to vote (or stand for a position!) please get in touch.

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    We’re wrapping up our first work cycle! Here’s what we accomplished over the past six weeks and what we’re still working on. To help with any of these projects, please get in touch!

    Planning for Data Carpentry Ecology Lessons Release

    What did we do? This cycle we started the process for Data Carpentry’s first lesson release - for our Ecology lessons. During the Issue Bonanza 3/16-3/17, fifteen energetic members of our community and staff submitted a total of 134 issues focused on items related to our lesson release checklist. Data Carpentry staff and maintainers will be going through these issues in preparation for our Bug BBQ (4/6-4/7). Stay posted for announcements about the Bug BBQ!

    What are we still working on? Over the next cycle, we’ll be working on documenting the process for future lesson releases and planning for our next lesson release (the Data Carpentry Genomics lessons).

    How can you help? Sign up for the upcoming Bug BBQ to help polish up the Ecology curriculum for publishing. Even if you can’t “attend” please help clean up issues in those repos! We’d love to hear your thoughts about this new lesson publication process. Please send any feedback to Erin ( or Tracy (

    Streamlining Process for Instructor Training

    What did we do? This cycle we focused on simplifying processes, increasing our capacity for training new instructors and giving our Trainers opportunities to share expertise and learn from each other. We simplified our processes for scheduling instructor training events and tracking progress of trainees through checkout to make more efficient use of our volunteer Trainer time. We set up regular meetings for our Trainer community, including discussion meetings to share expertise about teaching instructor training events. We started training ten new instructor Trainers, who will be joining the Trainer team this summer. We also developed documentation for communicating with partners about training events and followed up with pending instructor training applicants.

    What are we still working on? We’re working on building our capacity for offering training to non-partner affiliated individuals and improving our documentation for Trainers running instructor training events.

    How can you help? If you’re interested in becoming an instructor Trainer, please contact Erin (

    New hire

    We’ve received a large number of highly qualified applicants and are working on scheduling first round interviews. Keep an eye out for more news!

    Setting an Assessment Strategy

    What did we do? This cycle Data Carpentry overhauled our pre- and post-workshop surveys to include measurements of self-efficacy and skill with R or Python. We’ll be piloting these surveys over the next few months. We also developed and released a long-term follow-up survey for learners who attended workshops six months ago or more.

    What are we still working on? In October we released a report of Data Carpentry’s impact on learners. We’re now working on a report for Software Carpentry. Stay posted!

    How can you help? If you were a learner at a Carpentry workshop over six months ago, please fill out our new survey by April 4th and be entered in a drawing for a Data Carpentry swag bag.

    Lesson Contribution Guidelines

    What did we do? We surveyed community members about their experiences with contributing to Carpentry lessons and asked for ways that we can make this process more straightforward. We received 54 responses with a wealth of suggestions.

    What are we still working on? We organized the feedback we received and are working on understanding the best way to implement these suggestions.

    How can you help? If you’d like to be part of the team developing new documentation and resources for lesson contributions, please contact Erin (

    Our next cycle - Cycle Deimos - March 27th through May 19th

    I hope you’ll agree that we accomplished a lot over the past six weeks! Our next cycle is also looking to be action-packed and exciting. Stay tuned for an announcement of what’s coming up! As always, if you there’s something you’re excited about and would like to see, post your idea to our Conversations repo or get in touch.

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    A fair amount of discussion around assessment took place during the Software and Data Carpentry Instructor and Helper Retreat. One of the recommendations that came out of this retreat was to include skills-based questions in our pre- and post-workshop surveys to improve the accuracy of our survey results. We know that our learners come to our workshops having varying knowledge levels for programming. A way that we can capture this information, and determine whether our workshops make a difference in learner’s ability to work with data, is to add skills-based questions to our surveys. With the help of our community, we have done just that.

    On February 22nd we created an issue in both our R and Python for Ecology lesson repos asking community members to help us develop multiple choice questions (MCQ’s) for R and Python. These questions were to vary in difficulty and cover plotting, reading in data, summarizing dataframes, and performing basic mathematical calculations. Our community members contributed questions and answers to a document, and we met virtually on March 1st to discuss the questions, answers, and distractors.

    We are now ready to launch our new pre- and post-workshop surveys. We’d like to say thank you to all of our community members who contributed to this process. Thanks to you, our surveys will launch in April!

    Long-Term Assessment In an effort to gather what has transpired in our learner’s work and career since completing a Carpentry workshop, Software and Data Carpentry have launched a joint Long-Term Assessment Survey. Our staff and community members have developed a way to capture feedback from our learners about behaviors they’ve adopted since attending a Carpentry workshop, confidence in the tools covered in their workshop, and ways their work, research, and career may have been impacted. If you took a Carpentry workshop before December 2016 and would like to participate in our survey give us your feedback. You will have the opportunity to be entered in a drawing for a Carpentry swag bag! We are collecting data until April 4th.

    As you can see, we value assessment and will continue to communicate our strategy with the community. Get involved with assessment by contacting Kari L. Jordan at Comment below, and tweet us your thoughts @datacarpentry and @drkariljordan.

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  • 03/28/17--17:00: Projects for Cycle Deimos
  • We’ve been enjoying the added focus and sense of accomplishment we’ve gained from working in cycles. If there’s something you’re excited about for the next round, let us know! If you’d like to join (or organize) a team for one of the next few cycles, let us know! Please post an issue on our conversations repo or email ([].

    Our second cycle - Cycle Deimos (March 27th - May 19th)

    Our second cycle starts this week and goes through the middle of May. Here’s what we’re hoping to accomplish in this cycle.

    Assessing our impact on learners

    With help from our community members, Kari has developed and will be piloting new pre- and post-workshop surveys for Data Carpentry workshops as well as a long-term follow-up survey for learners who completed workshops at least six months ago. She will be collecting and analyzing data from these new surveys, updating analysis of previously collected data for both Data and Software Carpentry and adding more content to our assessment page to communicate our ongoing assessment efforts with all interested community members.

    Training new instructor Trainers

    A new cohort of instructor Trainers has started the training process and will be starting to teach instructor training events this June. Erin is leading the training efforts for this new cohort and, in conjunction with Christina Koch, working cleaning and reorganizing our instructor training curriculum to address the needs of our Trainer community. At the same time, Maneesha is working to develop documentation for hosts and Trainers to clarify expectations and responsibilities for running instructor training events.

    Publishing Data Carpentry Lessons

    We’re wrapping up the lesson release process for the Data Carpentry Ecology lessons at the end of April. Carpentry community members came together March 16th-17th to develop a “to-do list” of current issues with our Ecology lessons and we’ll be making on final big push at the Bug BBQ to clean everything up for publication on April 21st. As we go through this process, we’re establishing and documenting the steps involved for future lesson release efforts. We’re also planning for publication of the Data Carpentry Genomics lessons in Cycle Phobos. Stay tuned for more information about how you can help with lesson publication!

    Small batch projects

    In addition to the “big batch” projects detailed above, we’re also working on a few smaller projects. Maneesha is planning the next stage of enhancements to our internal database (AMY) and cleaning up past issues and PRs. Tracy and Jonah are working on clarifying the financial tracking process for Data and Software Carpentry. Kari, Jonah and Tracy are carrying out interviews for our new Community Development Lead and Tracy and Erin are implementing a new logo for Data Carpentry. It’s going to be an exciting six weeks!

    Continuing Work

    We’re also continuing to work on our many ongoing projects, including (but not limited to):

    • Publishing our monthly newsletter
    • Running our blogs
    • Maintaining our websites and lessons
    • Coordinating workshops and instructor training events
    • Teaching at workshops and instructor training events
    • Hosting discussion sessions and instructor teaching demos
    • Speaking publically about Data and Software Carpentry
    • Running our Virtual Assessment Network
    • Organizing our Mentorship Program
    • Serving on the mentoring subcommittee, trainers group and bridge subcommittees

    If you’re interested in helping with any of this ongoing work, or would like to make suggestions about what to tackle in our next cycle, let us know! Please post an issue on our conversations repo or email ([].

    Our next two cycles will be: Cycle Phobos - May 22nd through June 30th Cycle Ganymede - July 3rd through August 11th

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    Bug BBQ starting tomorrow, Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 22:00 UTC

    Be a part of Data Carpentry’s first lesson release! Data Carpentry is aiming to release its Ecology lessons on April 21st. We held an Issue Bonanza last month to identify everything from typos to updates in code blocks. This was a great success, with over 130 issues generated by 17 members of our community! Our next step is to go through and resolve those issues and finalize the Ecology lessons for release.

    To help us get over the finish line we’re having a Bug BBQ starting Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 22:00 UTC to squash as many of these bugs as we can before the release. The Bug BBQ is also an opportunity for you to engage with our world-wide community. For more info about the event, read-on and visit our Bug BBQ Etherpad.

    Click this link to see the event in your local time.

    How can you participate? We’re asking you, members of the Carpentry community, to spend a few hours on April 6-7th to wrap up outstanding tasks to improve the lessons. Ahead of the event, issues have been created and labeled that need to be resolved before we wrap up Data Carpentry Ecology v1.0. There will be issues for everyone! Issues are labeled with level of difficulty and type. So, you could even spend just a few minutes putting in a PR!

    Where will this be? Join in from where you are: No need to go anywhere - if you’d like to participate remotely, start by having a look at the outstanding issues below.

    Ecology Workshop Overview
    Ecology Spreadsheets Lesson
    Ecology OpenRefine Lesson
    Ecology SQL Lesson
    Ecology R Lesson
    Ecology Python Lesson

    If you’d like to get together with other people working on these lessons live, let people know where you’ll be participating on the Bug BBQ Etherpad and join the conversation on our gitter channel.

    The Bug BBQ is going to be a great chance to get the community together, get our Ecology lessons over the finish line, and wrap up a product that gives you and all our contributors credit for your hard work with a citable object - we will be minting a DOI for this on publication that can go on your CV!

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  • 04/09/17--17:00: Data Carpentry supports I4OC
  • Our increasing capacity to collect data is changing how we can look at the world. This data we’re collecting has the most promise when it is accessible to all researchers, for all types of inquiry and wherever people do work and ask questions. Open data not only increases the potential for discovery, but also adds to the research’s impact, resulting in more citations and attention to the work. It is also a fundamental element of reproducible research, allowing others to better understand the research and build on the work that has been done.

    That’s why Data Carpentry is proud to be one of the founding stakeholders of the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC). I4OC is “a collaboration between scholarly publishers, researchers, and other interested parties to promote the unrestricted availability of scholarly citation data.” Six organizations (OpenCitations, the Wikimedia Foundation, PLOS, eLife, DataCite, and the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University) founded I4OC and announced its establishment last week. Already I4OC has increased the number of publications with freely available datasets in Crossref from 1% to 40%. 29 publishers have already chosen to deposit and open up citation data.

    The Internet Archive, Mozilla, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and 29 other projects and organizations have formally put their names behind I4OC as stakeholders in support of openly accessible citations.

    See I4OC’s full press release for more information on the project.

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  • 04/13/17--17:00: Bug BBQ squashes bugs!
  • In preparation for Data Carpentry’s first lesson release, we hosted a Bug BBQ last week to resolve outstanding issues and issues identified during the Issue Bonanza.

    The Bug BBQ and Issue Bonanza were a great success with 40 contributors in 8 countries holding lively discussions in the gitter chat room and submitting over 75 pull requests!

    Throughout the event, the lesson maintainers commented on issues and pull requests, merged PRs and resolved merge conflicts. Francois Michonneau created a milestone in the R lesson with relevant issues for the BugBBQ, which will be a great model for future events. A huge thank you to all of our lesson maintainers who constantly demonstrate their commitment to keeping Carpentry lessons amazing!

    Contributors were amazing, with great discussions, pull requests that fixed typos and also added clarification and missing content. Thanks to all who contributed during the Issue Bonanza and Bug BBQ!

    • @Amfdrey
    • Anelda van der Walt / Talarify / NWU / ZA
    • April Wright / Bodega Bay, CA
    • Auriel Fournier / Fayetteville, AR
    • Ben Marwick
    • Betty Rozum
    • Cam Macdonell / Edmonton, AB
    • Carlos M. Ortiz
    • Carol Willing / San Diego, CA
    • Christine Swanson / Gainesville, FL
    • Darya Vanichkina / Sydney, Australia
    • Eli Strauss
    • Erica Krimmel / Chicago, IL
    • Erin Becker / Davis, CA
    • Ethan Nelson / Madison, WI
    • Francisco Rodriguez-Sanchez / Sevilla, Spain
    • François Michonneau / Gainesville, FL
    • Gail Clement / Pasadena, CA
    • Greg Wilson / Toronto, ON
    • Hao Ye / San Diego, CA
    • Jaime Ashander / Davis, CA
    • Jeremy Gray / Toronto, ON
    • Jillian Dunic / Vancouver, BC
    • Juan Steyn / NWU, ZA
    • Kayla Peck
    • Matthias Grenié / FR
    • Maneesha Sane / Philadelphia PA
    • Nicky Nicolson / London, UK
    • Olivia Burge / NZ
    • Remi Daigle / Halifax, NS
    • Sarah Supp / Madison, WI
    • Sue McClatchy / Bar Harbor, ME
    • Ted Hart / Bay Area
    • Thomas Sandmann
    • Tom Morrell / Pasadena, CA
    • Tracy Teal / Davis, CA
    • Zack Brym / Homestead, FL
    • @zmml
    • UMSWC / Ann Arbor, MI

    If we didn’t name you, please let us know so we can correct our error!

    These events demonstrated yet again what an amazing community Software and Data Carpentry are, eager to share knowledge and enthusiasm and to contribute to communal curricula that will impact thousands of learners.

    For the lesson release and events, we also created a lesson release checklist and a How to Contribute document that will be useful as a start to contributor guidelines and preparing for lesson releases more generally.

    Alas, the name Bug BBQ was misleading in that there was no actual BBQ food involved. There was some disappointment on this front. Distributed, virtual BBQ may be challenging, but this is clearly something that needs addressing. Maybe we can at least share BBQ tips?

    Were the Issue Bonanza and Bug BBQ an effective way to update lessons?

    So, is this an effective way to work?

    The energy was great. It was fun to get to work on pull requests while you knew other people were working on them too.

    Setting aside time. It was nice to set aside some time to specifically do this work. Since there aren’t deadlines on lesson contributions, it doesn’t always get to be a priority. This was a good way of blocking off time on schedules.

    Feedback! Usually when you’re working on PRs you get delayed feedback after you put in your PR and then get comments later from others or lesson maintainers. Here, we could ask questions in the gitter chat and get responses, on things from content, to how we should be doing formatting. It was nice to get more immediate confirmation that we were headed in the right direction with our edits.

    Local groups. We didn’t have too many local groups, but for those that did, people got to meet each other and talk about lessons and more.

    The numbers! The numbers show that there were a lot more issues generated and pull requests put in and merged than any other time in the Data Carpentry lesson development.

    What could have been better?

    While a lot got done, there were a few things we could have done better.

    Getting the word out! A few blog posts and tweets weren’t enough. We should have started generating enthusiasm and providing updates about what would be going on sooner, and kept with it. Software Carpentry did a great job of this with their Bug BBQ Next time we’d start earlier and as Software and Data Carpentry synch their lesson releases, we can do these events together.

    Communicating with maintainers. There was some confusion about the role of these events and we didn’t have a clear process for setting milestones and labeling issues until just before the event. Next time we’d need to communicate and coordinate better with maintainers.

    If you missed the Bug BBQ, there are still issues to be resolved before lesson release, so please continue the bug squashing!

    Also, for those who contributed, we’ll be sending out swag shortly. If you contributed and would like swag, please email us with your physical mailing address. (There may even be post-it notes)

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    On March 24-25, Rayna Harris, Sue McClatchy, and Tracy Teal co-taught an instructor training workshop at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). This was a very special workshop in many ways, and we are excited to share some of the highlights with you.

    Also, be sure to check out an accompanying blog post by Humberto Ortiz Zuazaga about the combined Replicathon and Instructor Training events.

    Unique aspects of the workshop

    Our instructor training event was co-located with a “Replicathon”, which was a 2 day-hackathon built around reproducing the analysis published in some recent high-profile journal articles. Having two simultaneous events really gave the feeling of a “critical mass” for building a community of researchers who are passionate about using and teaching reproducible research practices.

    Rayna and Sue have been working together on the the mentoring committee for 2 years, but didn’t meet face-to-face until March 24. One of the really amazing features of the Carpentries is that sometimes your closest colleagues live thousands of miles away.

    About the trainees

    Eleven of the twelve trainees were faculty members from various UPR campuses, and one trainees was from a private company. The trainees were born and raised in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, and the Ukraine, so English was everyone’s second language.

    All the trainees were very excited to meet other faculty members with similar challenges and opportunities. They were all very motivated to enhance their teaching skills and implement new tools and techniques in their classrooms. Together, they have great ideas for building a data-literate community, and they really care about the success and progress of their students.

    Modifications to the curriculum

    We planned on starting the workshop with an introduction to the Carpentries and Carpentry teaching practices because we knew that none of the attendees had participated in a Carpentry workshop. We had to modify this plan slightly when we were asked if our trainees could attend Tracy’s keynote lecture for the Replicathon during that time slot we had devoted for the introduction to the Carpentries. In the end, Tracy’s keynote did an excellent job highlighting the history, vision, mission, and accomplishments of the Carpentries. It sparked a lot of enthusiasm and provided a great foundation for the rest of the training.

    You can view our workshop schedule here:

    At the end of the workshop, we took a few minutes to go around the room and have everyone say what they are excited about for the future. (This exercise is pretty standard for the weekly instructor discussion sessions, but it is not part of the instructor training curriculum.) Since most of the discourse during a workshop happens in the Etherpad, it was great to hear something positive from everyone. They also showed real enthusiasm for building communities and teaching, and you could tell that all the trainees has a positive experience.

    Trainees response to the curriculum

    The trainees really enjoyed getting feedback from their peers, which served to increase their network and improve their teaching skills. They also said that the material on motivation and demotivation resonated particularly well.

    We received a lot of suggestions from the group on how to improve the typical workshop lesson to make them more approachable (such as having an overview that is separate from the agenda, having a rationale for each lesson in addition to the questions and learning objectives).

    The trainees pointed out a few places where we used idioms that did not translate well and had to be explained. This is an ongoing topic of discussion, and we are working to evaluate the lessons to minimize use of idioms.

    Advice for new instructors

    I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger. Here are a few pieces of advice we have for new instructor trainers:

    1. Have trainees pick their lesson for live coding before going home on day 1. The live coding exercise can be particularly challenging when the trainees don’t fully prepare. By asking them to choose the lesson on the end of day 1, everyone can go into the exercise a little more prepared.
    2. When soliciting responses in the Etherpad, type everyone’s name on a new line so that the trainees know where to put their response and so that the instructor’s can gauge how students are processing with the challenge exercise.
    3. Introductions are crucial. As the instructor, be sure to articulate your qualifications for teaching the curriculum (which are different from the qualifications you would articulate when teaching R or Python). Also, the trainees really want to meet the other trainees, so be sure that they all introduce themselves to each other.


    Thanks to Erin Becker, Jonah Duckles, Kari Jordan, Maneesha Sane, and Greg Wilson from Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry for helping make instructor training an awesome thing. Thanks to the group of instructor trainers for collaboratively building the train-the-trainer curriculum. Thanks to the Carpentry community members for your enthusiastic support of events like these. Thanks to Humberto Ortiz Zuazaga, Yamir Torres, Jose Garcia-Arraras, and Patti Ordóñez for welcoming us into their community in Puerto Rico.

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    Data Carpentry has published its first set of lessons on Zenodo! The path to get here has included hundreds of people who contributed to these lessons, taught them, used them and learned from them. All the feedback, perspectives and contributions have gone back into the lessons to make them better and keep them updated and relevant. With the Issue Bonanza and the Bug BBQ, the community became the reviewers and editors of these lessons before publication. True peer review!

    Every Software and Data Carpentry lesson truly are the community’s lessons. Like the Boy Scout rule “Leave the campground cleaner than you found it”, everyone has been amazing stewards, leaving the lessons better than they found them. This culture and community ownership is what makes the Carpentry lessons possible. So, in these releases you’ll see that every contributor is an author, and thank you to everyone who was involved!

    A particular thank you to Erin Becker and Francois Michonneau who oversaw and worked on the whole release process, from PRs and issues to thinking about and creating process and the technicalities of the release.

    Also a special thank you to our maintainers, who work not only to review pull requests and solve technical problems, but also create a welcoming place for new contributors.

    There is now a release, but there’s always opportunities to make things better and they’re never done, so now is time to get back to some of those ‘after lesson release’ issues and start putting in new ones. Happy lesson-ing!

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    Way back in March of 2015, a group of 27 Carpentry community members gathered at Cold Spring Harbor for the first Data Carpentry Hackathon on a set of lessons and assessments for Genomics Data Carpentry. From the beginning, we wanted these lessons to be driven by, and useful to the large community of biologists who are (or will be) working with large genomics dataset datasets; perhaps as many as 90% of biologists.

    The creation of these lessons involved several new approaches for Data Carpentry lesson development:

    • Lessons were conceived at a Hackathon that brought together community members with a wide range of genomics expertise - from students just getting started with genomics to researchers who have spent most of their careers in the field-
    • Workshops would be taught on the cloud, acknowledging the reality that genomics research involves the use of cloud and HPC
    • Assessment should be ‘baked’ into the process; we want to think about learning objectives and how they can be assessed before we start getting lost in the details of vim vs. vi.

    These innovations supported the essentials of Data Carpentry teaching. Lessons focus on principles not tools, emphasize tidy data, reproducible workflows, and are unified along a “story arc” that captures common tasks of genomics analyses.

    Since the hackathon, these lessons have been taught at least 15 times in 6 countries to positive response:

    Quotes from Genomics workshops participants

    • “The instructors were knowledgeable and helpful, and willing to approach things from a very basic perspective to get everyone up to speed. They covered a lot of tools with practical applications useful to anyone doing bioinformatics.”

    • “Great background material for beginners looking to get past the initial hurdle of using computational tools.”

    • “Hands on coding along with instruction. Appropriate exercises. Compelling AND approachable presenters.”

    • “Coding along with the instructors and using a sample data set was great!”

    • “The hands on nature of the workshop allows you to get a good grasp of the command line and you get practice troubleshooting any mistakes that you may encounter.”

    We are now at the point where there is sufficient experience to move these lessons to a more formal release that will be more easily used, updated, and maintained by the community. As with all Software and Data Carpentry lessons, these lessons are by and for the community!

    What are some short- and long-term objectives?

    In the short-term, we are organizing the existing lessons repos into new layouts and formatting. Shortly after the call for contributions, we will follow the successful model of having an “Issue Bonanza” to identify problems with existing materials, followed by a “Bug BBQ” where we will fix those problems. In the longer term, we would like to have an active Genomics Curriculum Committee - a self-organized group that helps update and maintain the lessons to keep pace with the tools and the science.

    At the moment, a de facto committee of staff and instructors (Erin Becker, Bob Freeman, Kari Jordan, Mateusz Kuzak, Sue McClatchy, Maneesha Sane, Tracy Teal, Jason Williams) have identified some possible goals to work towards:

    • Offering two 2-day workshop formats (One focused on R, one focused on building genomics pipelines
    • Suggesting a comprehensive lesson sequence if workshops are self-organized and will be taught over more than 2 days
    • Improving how we manage our image and making it easier to reproduce on clouds outside of AWS
    • Offering a full set of lessons adapted to be taught via HPC
    • Improving assessment

    How you can contribute

    We are asking anyone interested in helping now (or in the future) to fill out this brief form so that we can organize the effort: Contribution Form

    While experience in genomics and Data Carpentry are a plus - there are many ways to contribute even if you don’t have this background. Please circulate this link and post to others who might be interested. We be following up near the end of May 2017 to organize everyone and provide more info.

    Thanks to everyone who is working to move these lessons to the next stage!

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    Twenty-five life science researchers from across the Netherlands and Germany joined the event on March 22nd and 23rd in Science Park Amsterdam. The workshop covered multiple aspects of working with genomics data.

    Lex Nederbragt from the University of Oslo, kicked off the event with an introduction to the core dataset. The rest the first day focused on working with R in RStudio environment to explore, clean and visualise metadata in a tabular format, presented by Mateusz Kuzak from the Netherlands eScience Center and has been wrapped up by Anita Schurch from UMC Utrecht introducing the Unix shell and file system navigation.

    Lex Nederbragt kicking off the first day

    The following day Denis Schmitz and Sam Nooij from National Institute for Public Health and the Environment continued the Unix shell lesson, showing how to search, organize and document the project and how to use for loops to do quality control of sequencing data. Afterwards, Lex dived deeper into shell automation, scripting and workflows. Anita followed up with the ways to move data around between the cloud and learners’ laptops. At the end of this hands-on intensive day, Natalie Danezi from SURFsara introduced High-Performance Computing resources available to Dutch researchers.

    During those two days, participants were not only presented with various techniques of efficient data analysis but also had the opportunity to learn how to use remote cloud resources provided by SURFsara and Amazon. Instructors collaborated with SURFsara consultants, Natalie Danezi, Ander Astudillo and Niek Bosch in the preparation and documentation of the virtual machine running on National HPC Cloud, based on the original Data Carpentry Amazon AMI. This image and the documentation will be used in future workshops organized within a partnership between ELIXIR and Software and Data Carpentry Foundations.

    The event closed with drinks and snacks at nearby Maslov Cafe.

    Post workshop recovery session

    We are just at the beginning of the journey. More work needs to be done on improving genomics lesson, and Data Carpentry is looking forward to contributions from everyone interested in providing help. You can read more about it in the recent [Data Carpentry blog post] (

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  • 05/24/17--17:00: Cycle Deimos wrapup
  • We’re wrapping up Cycle Deimos! Here’s what we accomplished over the past six weeks and what we’re still working on. To help with any of these projects, please get in touch!

    Assessing Our Impact on Learners

    What did we do? Data and Software Carpentry launched a long-term assessment survey in March 2017. The goal of this survey is to hear from our learners about what has transpired in their work and career since completing a Carpentry workshop. More information about this survey and our assessment efforts in general is located on the Assessment pages of both the Data Carpentry and Software Carpentry websites. The results show that a majority of respondents gained confidence in working with data (65%) and in using the tools we teach (77%), and also improved their coding practices (70%) as a result of completing a Carpentry workshop. Most of our respondents (86%) were also motivated to continue learning after the workshop, demonstrating our continued impact on learners.

    What are we still working on? The results from our long-term assessment survey are very exciting! We’re working on writing up publication materials for communicating these results to the broader data science community. We’re also working on finalizing new pre- and post-workshop surveys for Data Carpentry.

    How can you help? If you have ideas for disseminating the results of our long-term assessment, please email Kari.

    Training New Instructor Trainers

    What did we do? A new cohort of ten Trainers completed the Instructor Trainer Program and will be teaching in the coming months. Please join us in welcoming Aleksandra Nenadic, Chris Hamm, Jeffrey Oliver, Jonah Duckles, Karen Word, Kari L. Jordan, Maneesha Sane, Mark Laufersweiler, Martin Callaghan, and Naupaka Zimmerman to the Trainers team!

    As we grow, we want to be sure we’re communicating clearly with our partner sites concerning instructor training events. We’ll be offering several events each month across United States and UK/European time zones. You can read more about how an instructor training event works for a partner site on our Members page.

    What are we still working on? We’re looking for our next cohort of Trainers to join the Instructor Trainer Program starting in July and will be sending out an application to become a Trainer soon! We’re also working on creating more documentation to support hosts and Trainers in running instructor training events.

    How can you help? If you’re interested in becoming a Trainer, please fill out the application (coming soon!).

    Publishing Data Carpentry Lessons

    What did we do? Data Carpentry had our first official lesson release this cycle. With the help of hundreds of contributors, many of whom participated in the Issue Bonanza and Bug BBQ, we’ve published the Ecology lessons for working with SQL, R, Python, Spreadsheets and OpenRefine as well as a curriculum overview. For more details, check out our blog post.

    What are we still working on? We’re working on planning a lesson release for the Data Carpentry Genomics curriculum. More details and a timeline for that release coming soon!

    How can you help? To find out how to get involved with the Genomics lesson publication, check out this blog post or get in touch with Tracy.

    Hiring Community Lead

    What did we do? Software and Data Carpentry Staff and steering committee members created a job posting, circulated it to the community and identified 4 candidates to interview. After the first round of interviews we had second-round interviews with two candidates, involving members of the mentorship and trainer community.

    What are we still working on? We are now in the process of finalizing an offer and will be announcing the position soon.

    How can you help? The hiring and interview process is now complete.

    Small Batch Projects

    What did we do? We’ve been using a Django-powered database called AMY to track workshops, instructor activity, and more. We’ve been working with our team of developers to start cleaning up some little bugs in the system. One big change that we’ve recently made is to allow certified instructors the ability to login to view and edit their own profiles, using their GitHub account. You can also see what workshops you’ve been a part of in any role. Check it out by visiting the AMY login page and click on “Log in with your GitHub account.” Any problems logging in please email Maneesha.

    What are we still working on? Later this year we will be exploring enhancements that will make AMY an even more useful tool for us.

    How can you help? If you’re interested in helping with AMY development, please contact Maneesha.

    In Case You’re Wondering

    At the start of this cycle we announced that Data Carpentry would be changing over to a new logo. With ongoing discussions around merging the Software and Data Carpentry organizations, we’ve decided to hold off on this for now. Thanks for your patience!

    We also piloted a new system for tracking expenses as they are submitted. We’ll have more news on this later.

    Our next cycle - Cycle Phobos - May 29nd through July 21th

    You might notice this cycle is longer than the previous two. After giving six week work cycles a try, we’ve decided to move to an eight week model, reserving the first week for planning and the last for wrap-up and reporting.

    Stay tuned for an announcement of what’s coming up! As always, if you there’s something you’re excited about and would like to see, post your idea to our Conversations repo or get in touch.

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    The Carpentry community is growing! This month we welcomed ten new Instructor Trainers to our community. Now we are looking for the next group of new Trainers.

    Carpentry Instructor Trainers run instructor training workshops, lead online teaching demonstrations, and engage with the Trainer community about how best to train new instructors. Trainers are also actively involved in developing and maintaining the instructor training curriculum. We meet regularly to discuss our teaching experiences and stay up to date on policies, procedures, and changes to our curriculum.

    The Trainers are an eclectic group. Some of us have formal training in pedagogy, some are experienced Carpentry instructors, others run Carpentry-like trainings as part of their jobs, and others pitch in on their own free time. We all share a commitment to helping new instructor trainees become familiar and comfortable with Carpentry teaching practices and principles.

    More detailed information about what Trainers do can be found here.

    Trainers-in-training meet one hour a week for eight weeks to engage in a series of discussions around teaching pedagogy and creating welcoming classroom environments. After completing this part of the training, new Trainers shadow a teaching demonstration and part of an online instructor training event. Trainers-in-training also attend regular meetings of the Trainer community. This group of Trainers will start meeting in July and be eligible to teach instructor trainings by September.

    If you’re interested in joining the Trainer community, please apply here! Applications will be open until June 14th.

    If you have any questions about the training process or the expectations for being a Trainer, please get in touch with Erin.

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  • 06/04/17--17:00: Projects for Cycle Phobos
  • We’ve been enjoying the added focus and sense of accomplishment we’ve gained from working in cycles. If there’s something you’re excited about for the next round, let us know! If you’d like to join (or organize) a team for one of the next few cycles, let us know! Please post an issue on our conversations repo or email

    Our third cycle - Cycle Phobos (May 29th through July 21st)

    Our third cycle started this week and goes through July 21st. We focused on planning this first week. Here’s what we’re hoping to accomplish in this cycle.

    Working towards publication of Instructor Training and Data Carpentry Genomics curricula

    Jason Williams, Bob Freeman, Sue McClatchy, Mateusz Kuzak, Erin and Tracy are working on preparing for the first publication of the Data Carpentry Genomics lessons. There is a lot of enthusiasm for this curriculum push, with over 70 people interested in being involved! During this cycle, we will be forming a Genomics curriculum advisory board, finding maintainers for each of the lessons, and cleaning up the repo organization. Towards the end of this cycle, we will be having an Issue Bonanza. Stay tuned for more information!

    Karen Word, Naupaka Zimmerman, Lex Nederbragt, Rayna Harris, Christina Koch and Erin are working with the rest of the Trainer community to revamp the Instructor Training curriculum for its next release in August. We’ll be having an Issue Bonanza July 13th and 14th and a Bug BBQ August 3rd and 4th. Keep an eye out for more announcements about these events!

    Developing a guide for Trainers

    Maneesha is working on putting together documentation and checklists for Trainers running instructor training events. If you’re a Trainer and have any questions or issues of unclarity surrounding instructor training events, please send your thoughts to Maneesha as she’s gathering information for this documentation.

    Pursuing funding for specific efforts

    Data Carpentry has been focusing closely on curriculum development in the past months and is committed to continuing those efforts over the next year. During this cycle, we are focusing on pursuing more resources to help us maintain high quality lessons and expand our curricular offerings into new domains.

    In addition to growth in new domains, Data and Software Carpentry are committed to improving our ability to serve learners in underserved regions. Anelda van der Walt has led growth efforts in Africa and had great success in starting to establish a Carpentry community on the continent. This is a big job! We’re now seeking funding to help support workshop coordination and other work necessary to support new Carpentry communities, in both Africa and Latin America. If you have ties to these regions and are interested in helping secure funding for these efforts, please contact Erin.

    Communication around assessment

    Kari is working on developing a plan for communicating the results of our long-term follow-up survey to both the Carpentry community and the wider data science community. She’s also cleaning up and archiving pre- and post-workshop survey data so that this information is more accessible to interested members of the community. During this cycle, she will also be leading an effort to complete a report of the post-workshop survey results from Software Carpentry’s workshops thus far. If you are interested in being involved with these efforts, check out the carpentry community assessment projects repo.

    Small batch projects

    • Erin is working on recruiting new instructor Trainers. Particularly people with ties to Africa and Latin America. If you’re interested in becoming a Trainer, please apply!
    • Thanks to growth in the Trainer community, we are now able to offer more instructor training events for individuals who aren’t affiliated with member sites. We’re working now on organizing some of these events for the coming months. If you’ve been on the waitlist for training, please keep an eye out for an update!
    • Tracy is working on finalizing and communicating new Data Carpentry policies around reimbursements, staff professional development and workshops for for-profit institutions.
    • A while back we collected input from our Advisory board. We’ve been looking through their feedback and are working on communicating about it and planning follow-up actions.

    Continuing Work

    We’re also continuing to work on our many ongoing projects, including (but not limited to):

    • Publishing our monthly newsletter
    • Running our blogs
    • Maintaining our websites and lessons
    • Coordinating workshops and instructor training events
    • Teaching at workshops and instructor training events
    • Hosting discussion sessions and instructor teaching demos
    • Speaking publically about Data and Software Carpentry
    • Running our Virtual Assessment Network
    • Organizing our Mentorship Program
    • Serving on the mentoring subcommittee, trainers group and bridge subcommittees

    If you’re interested in helping with any of this ongoing work, or would like to make suggestions about what to tackle in our next cycle, let us know! Please post an issue on our conversations repo or email

    Our next two cycles will be:

    • Cycle Ganymede - July 24th through September 15th
    • Cycle Callisto - September 18th through November 10th

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    Software and Data Carpentry share a mission to spread computational and data literacy to the broader research community at a wide range of institutional types across the world. We also share core community values of openness and inclusiveness.

    Recently, we learned that some of our host sites have selective criteria that limit physical access to their sites on the basis of nationality. These policies have the effect of excluding some Carpentry instructors from teaching at these sites. We recognize that often these criteria are imposed by the broader security and bureaucratic apparatus at the organization that the host operates within and are beyond the control of our contacts at those sites. Nevertheless, these policies can cause conflict with our mission and core community values.

    We are committed to promoting inclusion and access to workshops. When policies exist outside our control, we will be as up-front as possible with our instructors about any such restrictions that may be in place. We will be asking all host organizations using our workshop coordination service about any site-restrictions that are in place, and will communicate such restrictions with our instructors when we announce volunteer instructor opportunities. If you have questions or thoughts on this issue, we welcome your comments to Tracy Teal at

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    We’re excited to announce Belinda Weaver has accepted our offer to become the Community Development Lead. Belinda will join the Carpentries staff later this month, please give her a warm and enthusiastic community welcome!

    Many of you may already know of Belinda from her work all over the community as a Software Carpentry Steering Committee Member, the Mentorship Subcommittee, the Trainers Subcommittee and a champion and leader of Library Carpentry. As part of our bylaws Belinda will be stepping down from the Software Carpentry Steering Committee on Friday June 16th and the Committee will finish the 2017 term with a membership of 6. For those of you who don’t know her yet, look for her introductory blog post later today. In short, Belinda is a very active community member and a delight to work with, we’re incredibly excited to have her contributing to our community full-time very soon!

    We want to thank everyone who participated in the conversations about how we created this staff position, the global search process, and helped with community member interviews. It is always encouraging to see such a vibrant and thoughtful community as we think carefully about how to grow our impact around the world.

    Belinda will officially begin in the new role on June 19th, 2017 and will be joining us as a full-time staff member. You can reach her at: and follow her on Twitter at @cloudaus

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  • 06/13/17--17:00: Genomics Interest
  • Last month, we announced an upcoming revamp for the Data Carpentry Genomics lessons and asked you to let us know how you would like to be involved. We’ve had a tremendous amount of interest from the community, with 78 people indicating their enthusiasm for being a part of this effort.

    Twenty-nine people volunteered to serve as Maintainers for the Genomics lessons. You will all be receiving an email shortly with more information about this role. Welcome to the Maintainer team!

    Twenty-nine people also volunteered to be on the Curriculum Committee. This group is responsible for providing oversight, vision and leadership for the Genomics curriculum as a whole. We will be selecting ten people to serve on this committee. These people will represent a diversity of career stages, teaching experience, and genomics focuses. If you expressed interest in serving on this committee please watch for an email about this shortly!

    A number of people expressed interest in contributing to the Genomics lessons. We will be organizing an Issue Bonanza and Bug BBQ for August/September. Please stay tuned for more information about this. You are also, of course, invited to contribute to lesson development outside of these events. We’re cleaning up the repositories in preparation for community contributions so those will be available for new contributions next week!

    Almost everyone who responded was interested in hosting or teaching a Genomics workshop. Workshops are already being taught using the current versions of the lessons and updated lessons will be available for teaching in September. Put in your workshop request or register for a self-organized workshop now!

    Thanks to everyone for your interest. It’s great to see so many people passionate about training people in the skills for working effectively and reproducibly with genomic data.

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    On Jun 8 & 9, we met in-person to continue discussing how to proceed with the merger of the Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry organizations to best achieve our strategic goals and serve our communities. We are happy to report that is was a very productive meeting.

    We spent most of the meeting discussing the structure of the future organizational leadership. We have drafted a number of motions that we will present to our respective steering committees for approval at our next meetings. Among the motions, we will propose that the combined Carpentries governing structure be made up of both appointed and elected members. Additionally, we propose that it is in the best interest of the organization to seed the future steering committee with bylaws, which will be enumerated, written, and approved in the coming months.

    Below is a timeline for the merger process. Various steps in this timeline require approval by both steering committees, and are dependent on results of previous steps, so this may change as we proceed.

    Month Merger Process Milestones
    June Communicate the in-person meeting outcomes and proposed governance structure to staff and community members.
    July Present motions to approve the proposed goverance structure, executive leadership, and transfer of assets (e.g. finances, cross-organization subcommittees). Enumerate required bylaws.
    August Present and approve an official motion to combine Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry into a unified organization. Approve nominations for the appointed seats to the steering committee.
    September Approve a unified budget. Approve the transfer of assets.
    October Call for candidates for elected members of the steering committee. Approve motions to dissolve the current steering committee and transfer assets as of January 1.
    November Community call to announce candidates for the elected seats on the steering committee.
    December Elect new elected steering committee members.
    January New organization with new steering committee commences.

    We are grateful for all the input we have and will to continue to received from community members, from staff, and from colleagues outside the Carpentries during this decision-making process. Please stayed tuned for updates and feel free to contact us with questions or concerns.

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    With the growth of Carpentry workshops all over the world, we are excited that Maneesha Sane is moving from Program Coordinator to Program Manager of Software and Data Carpentry. As Program Manager, she will continue to be involved in workshop coordination and instructor training and will oversee and ensure the quality and consistency of program operations. She will also work to develop processes, infrastructure and communications to consistently improve the workshop experience for instructors, hosts and learners.

    To fill some of her workshop coordination responsibilities, Software and Data Carpentry are looking to hire a part-time Workshop Administrator to help set up workshops and ensure that they run smoothly.

    The successful candidate will join a team of workshop coordinators around the world. In this job, you will manage workshop logistics, help communicate with hosts and instructors, and respond to general workshop inquiries.

    We are looking for someone with strong organizational and communication skills, who can prioritize competing tasks and work independently. Strong attention to detail is a must. Enthusiasm for our mission of teaching people how to program is also a plus!

    This is a remote position. The incumbent will be hired and paid as an independent contractor of our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor, NumFOCUS. The position will begin as part-time, approximately 20 hours a week, but has the potential to become full time.

    Review of applications will begin on July 17, 2017, and the position will remain open until filled.

    For more details on the position and information on how to apply, please see the full job posting.

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