Openscapes Approach Guide

A guide to the Openscapes approach


Julia Stewart Lowndes & Erin Robinson


February 1, 2022


Welcome to the Openscapes Approach Guide! This is an open and iterating guide to document our process and onboard folks to the Openscapes approach.

About Openscapes

Openscapes is an approach for doing better science in less time. We offer mentorship, coaching, teaching, and community organizing centered around open data science: we help teams develop collaborative practices that are more reproducible, transparent, inclusive, and kind.

Openscapes Champions is an open data science mentorship program for science teams. We support researchers to reimagine data analysis & stewardship as a collaborative effort, develop modern skills that are of immediate value to them, and cultivate collaborative and inclusive research communities. We work with academic, government, and non-profit research teams who become part of the open science movement as Champions empowered with new skillsets and mindsets for modern data-intensive science.

About This Guide

We’ve been growing Openscapes since founding it in 2018. This is our attempt to codify our approach so that we can onboard others as we grow. Aligned with our values for kinder, open science, we are developing it openly and designing it so that you can also use the guide to use the Openscapes Approach on your own. We encourage anyone to use and “fork” it to make it your own (particularly as it’s a bit more developed!).

We complete a full revolution of our Flywheel (see Robinson & Lowndes 2022) each time we lead the Champions Program.

Figure 1 from Robinson & Lowndes 2022. The Openscapes Flywheel builds momentum as a culture change engine as We engage a Future Us mindset through welcoming and creating space and place, we Empower a learning culture by investing in learning and trust, and working openly, and we amplify open leaders by leveraging common open data science workflows, skills and tools and inspire broader scientific culture change. And the Flywheel turns again.

Each turn of the flywheel delivers the Champions program for a Cohort of research teams so that they can begin transforming their workflows towards kinder, inclusive open science and inspire their broader communities. We support this delivery and transformation through developing mentor teams with inclusive facilitation skills, by investing in the Champions curriculum as we learn new software and inclusive practices and to meet specific Cohort needs, and by attracting research teams through storytelling (talks, blogs, publications), community engagement, and artwork to welcome more folks to the open science movement.

This book will ultimately describe the Openscapes Approach as all parts of our Flywheel, but we are beginning our focus on Champions Program and then the Mentors Framework.

The Flywheel is a concept developed by Jim Collins in the book Good to Great; it’s the idea that when building something to last, there is no single defining action. Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond. We’ve found these are the synergistic and overlapping elements for open data science movement building which we’ve tested, iterated, and refined in working with over 150 research teams since 2019. We are really focused on building habits that last, and institutional change that lasts.

Built with Quarto

We’re collaboratively making the Openscapes Approach Guide with Quarto. Quarto builds from what RStudio learned from RMarkdown, which we use to openly develop and publish all Openscapes websites, books, and blogs. Quarto makes collaborating to create technical documentation streamlined because we work in plain text documents that can have executable code (Python, R) and are rendered natively using Jupyter and Knitr engines. We are gradually converting to build all our materials with Quarto.


All material in the Openscapes Approach Guide is available under a CC-BY 4.0 licence.

Please cite this guide as:

The Openscapes Core Team, Lowndes & Robinson (2021). Openscapes Approach Guide (Version v0.0.1).