Chapter 1 Welcome

Hello! This book is the lesson series for the Openscapes Champions program, an open data science mentorship program for science teams.

Openscapes Champions is a professional development and leadership opportunity for teams 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. Cohorts are ~7 research teams (~35 total participants including team leads and members) that convene remotely to explore open data science tooling and practices together. This is a remote-by-design program since its launch in 2019.

Artwork by Allison Horst


This open curriculum is improved iteratively and the most recent version always available online. Chapters accompany slide decks that are taught through Cohort Agendas (below), depending on the Cohort duration. The lesson series is originally framed around “Our path to better science in less time using open data science tools” (Lowndes et al. 2017). As we learn and iterate with Cohorts of different durations and from different disciplines, the curriculum will iterate and grow as well.


1.1 Cohort Agendas

Research teams participate as a cohort over several months, meeting twice-monthly for 1.5-hour sessions we call Cohort Calls. Cohort Calls are designed to be engaging, requiring discussion and active participation through shared live notetaking in Google Docs and video as a group and breakout groups.

Cohort Call agendas and slides are all openly available in a Google Folder, and identified individually in the following tables. As we continue to learn and iterate from working with different research groups, you can always review the agenda archive for specific cohorts. Additionally, we end each lesson by learning hands-on efficiency tips, compiled here as an Efficiency Tips Doc and Spreadsheet.

Between Cohort Calls, each team meets together for a Seaside Chat to begin identifying and addressing shared needs; Seaside Chats have been described by participants as one of the most valuable parts of the Champions Program. Additionally, we coordinate skill-building Clinics and Co-Working sessions (which differ from “Office Hours” because participants come to work and learn together) between Cohort Calls.

1.1.1 Two-month

The two-month Champions program includes 4 Cohort Calls and 1 GitHub Clinic. The core lesson series focuses on building an open science mindset, building efficiency and open culture within the team, and building sustained learning practices with broader communities. At the end of the program, each team describes their trailhead and pathways forward.

Cohort Call Agendas Series Chapters Between Cohort Calls
1. Openscapes mindset mindset, better science in less time Seaside Chat (trailhead)
> GitHub Clinic < publishing, project management Hands-on collaboration in the browser: editing, committing, and Issues
2. Team culture and data strategies for future us team culture, data strategies Seaside Chat (code of conduct);
Co-working
3. Open communities and coding strategies for future us open communities, coding strategies Seaside Chat (pathway); Co-working
4. Pathways share and next steps


1.1.2 Four-month

The four-month Champions program includes 8 Cohort Calls and 2 Clinics. Beginning with the core lessons from the two-month program, we work with partners to co-develop new curriculum specific to a community.


Cohort Call Agendas Series Chapters Between Cohort Calls
1. Openscapes mindset mindset, better science in less time Seaside Chat (trailhead)
> GitHub Clinic < publishing, project management Hands-on collaboration in the browser: editing, committing, and Issues
2. Team culture and data strategies for future us team culture, data strategies Seaside Chat (code of conduct);
Co-working
3. Open communities and coding strategies for future us open communities, coding strategies Seaside Chat (pathway); Co-working
4. Pathways share and next steps
> Skillbuilding Clinic <
5. Art of writing methods Seaside Chat; Co-working
6. Peer review of methods Seaside Chat; Co-working
7. Tricky details discussion Seaside Chat; Co-working
8. Pathways share #2


1.2 About

The Series is written (and always improving) to be used as a reference, to teach, or as self-paced learning. And also, awesomely, it’s created with the same tools and practices we will be talking about: R and RStudio — specifially bookdown — and GitHub.

Openscapes is co-directed by Julia Stewart Lowndes and Erin Robinson. It is operated by the National Center for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis (NCEAS) and was incubated by a Mozilla Fellowship awarded to Lowndes in 2018.


Creative Commons License  Openscapes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.