Chapter 9 Open communities

Open communities play a big role in advancing research, helping research feel less lonely and reducing the amount of time we all spend being stuck spend reinventing the wheel. This is a brief (incomplete) introduction to the idea of open communities. We will explore: What are open communities? Why engage with them? How to engage with them? And also how Twitter as a legit tool for coding and science. Originally focusing on R communities, we are adding more examples beyond.

Slides that have been presented during Champions Program Cohort Calls:


9.1 What are open communities?

Open communities are groups of people openly creating, sharing, teaching, collaborating. They are united around a shared interest: coding language, topic, discipline, etc.

They have a culture of shared & continued learning, prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion.

They have online and in-person activities.

Here are some examples of communities. Read more & direct links: https://rstudio-conf-2020.github.io/r-for-excel/collaborating.html#r-communities

Some #rstats communities with in-person and online events and channels


There are strategies for learning with both online and local communities.

9.2 Why engage with open communities?

  • Skillshare (teach & learn)
    • Coding, software, workflows
    • Collaboration, leadership, DEIJ
  • Meet allies, grow friendships, career opportunities
  • Help improve science & scientific culture
    • Increase visibility & value of coding, data, collaboration skills
    • Drive change: modern ways to contribute to science. Formally incentivize and teach! Include in promotion/tenure (we shouldn’t really have to teach ourselves on our own time and not be credited), create jobs
  • Carry on & forward your experience from Openscapes

9.3 How to get started?

Google your interests/needs. When you Google, include what you want to do PLUS r, rstats; python.

Start by listening and learning. Be deliberate: curate who you follow.

Like and share when you’re comfortable.

Then, contribute – your ideas, your blogs, your papers, your code… Contributors are welcome in open communities! And know too that the R packages ggplot & knitr were created by students (Wickham & Xie) (see McBain 2019).

Finally, Twitter is a legit tool for science. It’s a good way to learn what you need to learn and broadening your horizons while building community. Some places to start: #rstats, #rstatsES, #rspatial, #pydata, #BlackAndSTEM, #MeTooSTEM

Seaside Chats are a great way to start exploring together.

9.4 Examples in the wild: campus coding clubs