Section 2 Getting started

Community champions in our community get their starts in many ways. Maybe they’re looking to develop their own data-driven research skills, or maybe you’re looking for a way to support the overwhelming number of researchers looking for help. Maybe they’re part of a lab or research institute - or even a student group in a discipline - who feel frustrated and held back by what they don’t know. Anywhere there is a need for more digital skills capability in research applications is a valid starting point for becoming a Carpentry Champion.

Whatever the case may be, we want to help those who choose to work intentionally to build one or more communities of practice around computational skills.

The work of community building is not always easy, it can be challenging to reach critical mass where things feel like they come together and work on their own. As with building any community, there is work to be done to help people understand the possibilities that working together can bring. To do this, we have listed various strategies throughout this guide and we welcome your contributions of what has and hasn’t worked for you.

There are tried and tested ways to run events such as workshops, un-conferences and knowledge bazaars that bring people together and nudge them to talk to each other about tools, workflows, opportunities, and challenges. The overarching principle of all of these events is to bring willing participants together to learn from each other supported by quality resources and materials.

In almost every discipline today, cutting edge research questions require some level of computational skill. From astronomers collectively looking at the gravitational wiggles of thousands of distant stars to digital humanists training document classifiers to “read” with a critical eye, eventually we’re all going to run into some kind of technical challenge in our digital research.

How can we support one another and develop rich and inviting communities that serve all participants? A group of novices with little skill coming together can be deeply frustrating, feeling a little at times like the blind leading the blind. At the same time, experts at your institution can be overwhelmed with requests for their time or insights.

How can we build communities of practice that are beneficial at both ends of this spectrum and start to raise up everyone’s skills and abilities?

Read on …

applicable# Skills Workshops

Short format workshops that run over one or more days can be a great way to bring people together to share skills. For workshops to be most impactful, it is important to use good quality lessons and have them taught by prepared instructors. The Carpentries supports and mentors a global community of instructors and lessons they can teach.