Section 1 Introduction

Welcome to the Carpentries’ Community Cookbook!

The aim of this guide is to provide a place to gather together background, and personal stories about a range of community building tools and practices useful for creating peer learning communities in academic and research environments. Though primarily focused on workshops and activities of The Carpentries. This guide spans many other research-adjacent communities and activities that you can draw on when building your local community.

Through this guide we hope to collect ‘recipes’ or practical tips and tricks to aid you in creating your own strong, local communities. Every campus and organization will be a bit different, so there is no single right way to create a local community. However, the ideas gathered here seek to provide ideas for you to try, knowing that these have been tested by others. Please don’t see this guide as prescriptive of the exact steps that will work for you, but as an inventory of possibilities you can experiment with to make your own community unique. Come join us at our quarterly Champions calls, where we share ideas and support those trying to build their own local research computing communities of practice.

1.1 Building or improving your own local community

Investing your time in developing a community of practice around computational skills is an activity that can help you and others to develop research tools and skills. Because of the rapid pace of innovation and development in computational tools, getting started with digital tools can seem overwhelming, daunting, and challenging. At the same time, the rate at which we can collect research data sets is speeding up. The rate at which data is accumulating far surpasses many of the mental models we currently have for how we work with data. The role of community in developing skills and infrastructure is incredibly important - ‘It takes a village’ … - and the ability of groups of people sharing ideas and tools with each other can accelerate and improve capabilities and research outcomes for your lab, your department and your organization.

The Carpentries have found that developing local communities takes intentional and committed boots-on-the-ground community champions who are energetic, innovative, and excited about supporting and growing their community. Over the past few years, we as a broader global community have gathered together the lessons learned and shared across the world. Now we’re sharing them with you through this cookbook. We hope that you can learn from, be inspired by, and contribute back to this cookbook all the ‘recipes’ and ideas you’ve tried. Join our quarterly meetings and get support from our global community, or give support to others who are just getting started.

1.2 What is a community of practice?

A community of practice is simply a group of people who share a particular craft or shared purpose. In the case of Carpentries communities, these tend to be communities that apply computational skills toward research challenges. How exactly this might look at your organization or institution is up to you. Some communities support bioinformaticians in their efforts to wrangle and improve bioinformatics workflows. Others cast wide nets with terms like “Digital Scholarship” to invite and include those from all disciplines and backgrounds, urging them to come together for support around computational skills. Still others run small, highly focused study groups or book clubs on niche topics, working to support each other as they practice and develop new skills. How or what you develop is up to you: you’ll probably find that you already participate in some communities of practice. Whether it is your lab group, the team you work for, or a cross-institutional collaboration you’re a part of, these are all communities of practice. This guide will give you some ideas and tips for how to build and interconnect these existing communities, or build new ones that have shared goals and purpose.

1.3 Contributing

We invite you to contribute to this guide. Our plan is for it to be a living and growing document of curated ideas. In this ‘cookbook’, we look to gather from our global community the practices used to initiate and cultivate these communities. If you have a particular practice that has worked for you, we invite you to share it with our community. Please open an issue in the GitHub repository which generates this guide, and share a link, resource, or testimonial with us. If you’re familiar with Git, create a pull request with a suggested addition and our cookbook maintainers will work with you to integrate your contribution.

1.4 Codes of Conduct

The Carpentries community strongly encourages a Code of Conduct (CoC) being in place at all gathering places, whether online and offline. CoCs support open and collaborative environments and ensure there are stated rules for appropriate and inappropriate behavior. We encourage you to adopt/develop a CoC for any activities you plan and to notify your attendees/participants of the text and what they are expected to abide by. There are many great CoCs out there, and it is really up to you to select one that you feel fits the needs of your activities and community. For certain events, such as Carpentries workshops, you will be required to adopt the Carpentries CoC to run the event under their name. Codes of Conduct are important documents for ensuring the openness and inclusivity of your community.

You are welcome to use our Code of Conduct as the basis for your own.