Openscapes Champions Lesson Series

Open educational resources for Openscapes Champions


Openscapes team


February 1, 2022


Hello! This is the lesson series for the Openscapes Champions program, an open data science mentorship program for science teams. We think about open science like a landscape, and we help researchers move from lonely science towards team science as they identify their common needs and start navigating the landscape together with a cohort of their peers.

Artwork by Allison Horst

This open curriculum is improved iteratively and the most recent version always available online for reuse and remix. Each chapter in the Core Lesson Series introduces the concepts, tooling, and examples that we discuss during our Champions Program Cohort Calls. We’re also organizing additional Champions Lessons, Community Lessons, and How To guides to support Champions teams that you can navigate to on the left.

Cohort Calls

Research teams participate as a Champions Cohort over 2 months, meeting twice-monthly for five 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 group/breakout-group discussions. We explore open data science concepts, tooling, and examples together through slides that accompany each chapter of this book. Core lessons focus on building an open science mindset, efficiency and sharing culture within the team, and developing sustained learning practices with broader communities. At the end of the program, each team describes their work in progress and pathways forward.

Cohort Call Topics Series Chapters Seaside Chat Topics
1. Openscapes mindset, better science in less time mindset, better science in less time Pathway - where are you now
2. GitHub Clinic: publishing & project management publishing, project management Shared organizing with GitHub
3. Team culture and data strategies for future us team culture, data strategies Onboarding docs, code of conduct
4. Open communities and coding strategies for future us open communities, coding strategies Pathway - next steps
5. Pathways share and next steps

Seaside Chats & Pathways

Between Cohort Calls, each team meets together for Seaside Chats - dedicated time for data/workflow discussions. This is where teams begin identifying and addressing shared needs, prompted by discussions as a cohort and using the Pathways Concept. Seaside Chats have been described by participants as one of the most valuable parts of the Champions Program because it helps strengthen habits and culture of shared workflows and learning. Additionally, we support teams between Cohort Calls through Co-Working sessions and Slack.

Cohort Agendas

Cohort Call agendas and slides are all openly available in a Google Folder, ready for reuse and remix. We end each lesson by learning hands-on efficiency tips (Doc and Spreadsheet) and inclusion tips.

Champions Program POP

Our POP, a planning tool that we learned from Mozilla, describes the Purpose, Outcomes, and Purpose.

Purpose is to: Reimagine data analysis and stewardship through exploring open tools and practices; Develop modern skills and habits that are of immediate value to you, including confidence and agency as leaders; Cultivate collaborative and inclusive research communities: Future Us, starting with your team.

Outcomes are: Different for everybody - this is about changing habits to improve your work and teamwork so you shape where you invest based on what you need; A practice of talking and collaborating about data workflows with your team and community; A pathway you’ve identified with your team to help prioritize next steps - You’ll share your work-in-progress on our last Cohort Call

Process is: Cohort Calls: Twice-monthly with full Cohort; discussion-based and requires active engagement; Seaside Chats: Alternating weeks with your research group; we’ll provide task suggestions but main purpose is to build the habit of strengthening shared workflows with your broader group. Team leads optional; Co-working: Alternating weeks (optional); come to focus on something workflow related - could be quiet work, requests for feedback or questions, or screensharing to problem solve; Slack: asynchronous way to ask questions, get help, and get to know other Openscapes folks; Twitter: asynchronous way to connect with broader open science community - check out #rstats, #openscience, @openscapes

What is a team?

There is a lot of flexibility in choosing your team for the Openscapes Champions program.

How you define “team” is completely up to you and having one person be in the cohort and using in-between session “seaside chats” to bring back the information to another group is 100% fine. That is common in the cohorts. In my first Openscapes cohort, I was the only person from my project. My personal goal was to use the Openscapes structure to help a team that I am on figure out how to tackle some off-boarding tasks due to a retirement. During my second cohort, there were 2 team members in the cohort and 2 not in the cohort. We focused on standardizing our data to get ready for our GitHub served data package. For the 3rd cohort I am doing, 2/3 of our team is in the cohort as we start to get organized for a major revamp of our report into a reproducible workflow. - Eli Holmes (NOAA NWFSC, NMFS-Openscapes)

Learn more: FAQs: What is a team/How do I choose my team?.

Cohorts - past and upcoming

We have led 8+ Champions Cohorts since 2019. Starting in 2021, each Cohort has an events page with links to their GitHub repository (with quick-links to their Cohort Call Agendas so teams can more easily review), blog posts and any additional resources. Explore more at

Supercharge your research: self-paced learning

All Champions Program resources are designed to also be a self-paced learning resource for teams. Additionally see Supercharge your research: a ten-week plan for open data science (Lowndes et al. 2019) and accompanying spreadsheet template that you can use to get organized with your team.

See also other publications and presentations at


Openscapes helps researchers reimagine data analysis, develop modern skills that are of immediate value to them, and cultivate collaborative and inclusive research teams. Our work builds from many others in the open movement, and we are also documenting our process to onboard folks and scale Openscapes in our Approach Guide.

Openscapes Champions

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.

Core lessons were originally developed from “Our path to better science in less time using open data science tools” (Lowndes et al. 2017). As we learn and iterate leading Champions Cohorts, the curriculum is iterating and growing as well.

This Series Book

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


All material in the Openscapes Lesson Series is available under a CC-BY 4.0 licence.

Please cite the Openscapes Champions Lesson Series through the project’s Zenodo archive using DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7407246. This DOI represents all versions, and will always resolve to the latest one.

The citation will look something like:

The Openscapes Core Team, Julia Stewart Lowndes & Erin Robinson. (2022). Openscapes Champions Lesson Series (2022.12). Zenodo.

Please visit the Pathways DOI link to get the most recent version - the one above is not automatically generated and may be out of date if we release an updated version.

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