Data Carpentry Workshop, Spring 2018

Following on from the success of previous Carpentry workshops we have hosted, the Research Data Support team organised another two day Data Carpentry workshop on 12th /13th June 2018 in the David Hume Tower teaching studio.

Students at work on the Data Carpentry workshop held in David Hume Tower teaching studio.

Data Carpentry workshops focus on introductory computational skills needed for data management and analysis in all domains of research. If you have never heard of ‘Data Carpentry’, ‘Software Carpentry’ or ‘the Carpentries’ we suggest you go take a look around the Data Carpentry and Software Sustainability Institute websites. While the ‘Data Carpentries’ follow a similar theme, the lessons can vary between different workshops, depending on the level of the learners and their requirements. The topics covered were:

  • Data Cleaning with OpenRefine
  • Programming and Data Visualisation with R
  • Relational DataBases and SQL

All the sessions received positive feedback from students on both content and delivery. The headliner for the workshop was undoubtedly the R programming: two R sessions delivered over Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning by the lead instructor Edward Wallace. Edward is based at King Buildings and uses R in his own research into RNA-protein interactions. He is clearly a great teacher as the feedback on these sessions indicated it was really well delivered and the pace of the course was just right. That is not easy to do when you have such a wide range of students from all disciplines.

This course was fully booked within a few hours of being advertised and there remained over 50 people registered on the waiting list indicating the demand for these data handling courses. The overwhelming feedback from the course was “more R training please!”. Keep a lookout for advertising on the RDS website and the university Events booking as more Carpentry training is on its way!

Thanks from the Research Data Support team to all the excellent helpers and trainers for making this event possible. All the trainers and helpers for this workshop were Edinburgh University staff.

Some of the students, teachers and helpers on the June 2018 Data Carpentry Workshop.

Trainers: Edward Wallace, Giacomo Peru, Manos Farsarakis, Lucia Micheilin.

Helpers: Rosey Bayne, Sean McGeever, Mario Antonioletti, Daniel Robertson, Evgenij Belikov, Jennifer Daub.

This workshop was organised in collaboration by Research Data Service, EPCC, ARCHER and the Software Sustainability Institute.

Jennifer Daub
Research Data Support
Library & University Collections

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Research Data MANTRA gets a refresh

Research Data MANTRA updates

MANTRA, the free online training course which provides guidelines for good practice in research data management (RDM), has recently been refreshed. The course content remains applicable to all research disciplines, and is particularly appropriate for postgraduate students and early career researchers who would like to learn more about managing their research data.

The latest release helps ensure that content from each of the eight learning modules remains up-to-date, with interactive elements across all units being revised to make them more user friendly, and new content added to some units.

Additionally, as part of the CEPAL, United Nations project some video content used within MANTRA has been translated. Claudia Vilches and Gabriela Andaur from Hernán Santa Cruz Library (Santiago, Chile) have helpfully translated several of the video interviews with research staff, and these can now be viewed with Spanish subtitles within MANTRA or on our Youtube channel, helping to widen accessibility to these training materials for researchers outside the UK. Please contact us if you wish to translate any of the MANTRA materials.

MANTRA learning units now available via Zenodo

In addition to being a free-of-charge online learning resource, all content from MANTRA is openly available for use and re-use by others. For those interested in developing their own RDM training materials based on MANTRA content, all MANTRA units (along with four sets of data handling exercises) are now available for direct download from the Zenodo repository’s RDM Open Training Materials community. The eight individual MANTRA units were created using open source software Xerte Online Toolkits and units can be imported and edited in Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) such as Moodle. All that we ask is for attribution according to our CC-BY licence.

Content from a number of shorter MANTRA ‘taster’ units is also openly available from Zenodo. These provide an overview of RDM in four very short modules which can be edited so as to add information about local RDM support services, before deploying locally in a VLE or on the Web.

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Scoping Statistical Analysis Support

The following is a post by our former PhD Intern, Cindy Nelson-Viljoen, where she outlines her experience of working on a significant Data Library project supported by the Innovation Fund.

Scoping Statistical Analysis Support, supported by the Information Services Innovation Fund and managed by Diarmuid McDonnell, was a six-month project that aimed to identify gaps in statistical analysis training provision at the University of Edinburgh, and the potential role of the Data Library in addressing these gaps. The focus was on understanding how statistical analysis support and training is conducted across University of Edinburgh schools; scoping existing support mechanisms and models for students, researchers and teachers; and identifying services and support that would satisfy existing or future demand.

The activities of the project included designing an online questionnaire of research students, and to engage with and interview faculty (researchers and teachers) with knowledge of and responsibility for quantitative methods/statistical analysis support in their respective school. As part of the project, the Data Library employed a PhD intern (Cindy Nelson-Viljoen) via the Employ.ed scheme, and offered an excellent opportunity for Cindy to develop her knowledge of social science methods, statistical analysis and support, and research data management in a collaborative cross-disciplinary setting.

The project’s findings will inform future planning of statistical analysis support and training within the Data Library, ISG and the University. The report describing the project, methodology, findings and recommendations is available at http://edin.ac/2hnJYPb.

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Data Carpentry & Software Carpentry workshops

The Research Data Service hosted back to back 2-day workshops in the Main Library this week, run by the Software Sustainability Institute (SSI) to train University of Edinburgh researchers in basic data science and research computing skills.

Learners at Data Carpentry workshop

Learners at Data Carpentry workshop

Software Carpentry (SC) is a popular global initiative originating in the US, aimed at training researchers in good practice in writing, storing and sharing code. Both SC and its newer offshoot, Data Carpentry, teaches methods and tools that helps researchers makes their science reproducible. The SSI, based at Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC), organises workshops for both throughout the UK.

Martin Callaghan, University of Leeds

Martin Callaghan, University of Leeds, introduces goals of Data Carpentry workshop.

Each workshop is taught by trainers trained by the SC organisation, using proven methods of delivery, to learners using their own laptops, and with plenty of support by knowledgeable helpers. Instructors at our workshops were from Leeds and EPCC. Comments from the learners – staff and postgraduate students from a range of schools, included, ‘Variety of needs and academic activities/disciplines catered for. Useful exercies and explanations,’ and ‘Very powerful tools.’

Lessons can vary between different workshops, depending on the level of the learners and their requirements, as determined by a pre-workshop survey. The Data Carpentry workshop on Monday and Tuesday included:

  • Using spreadsheets effectively
  • OpenRefine
  • Introduction to R
  • R and visualisation
  • Databases and SQL
  • Using R with SQLite
  • Managing Research & Data Management Plans

The Software Carpentry workshop was aimed at researchers who write their own code, and covered the following topics:

  • Introduction to the Shell
  • Version Control
  • Introduction to Python
  • Using the Shell (scripts)
  • Version Control (with Github)
  • Open Science and Open Research
Software Carpentry learners

Software Carpentry learners

Clearly the workshops were valued by learners and very worthwhile. The team will consider how it can offer similar workshops in the future at a similarly low cost; your ideas welcome!

Robin Rice
EDINA and Data Library

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