We teach foundational coding and data science skills to researchers worldwide.

Updates from the Data Carpentry Steering Committee annual in-person meeting

A brief review of the past year and plans for the year ahead

This post originally appeared on the Data Carpentry website

Every year the Data Carpentry Steering Committee members and Executive Director meet to review the previous year and strategically plan the next one. This year’s meeting was January 31 - February 1, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina, USA.

We started with a review of the previous year, and Data Carpentry has grown in all of our areas of focus, including number of workshops, number of instructors, types of curriculum, increased output of communication, assessment efforts, mentorship, partnerships, development of policies, involvement in grants, hiring of staff, and moves towards financial sustainability.

  • We’ve gone from 31 workshops in 2015 to 78 in 2016.
  • Through onboarding and new instructors we now have 416 certified Data Carpentry instructors.
  • We have worked to put policies and processes in place that will help make activities scale more effectively and provide guidance and support to our volunteer instructors, as well as developing strategies for staff to prioritize and make progress on key projects.
  • We’ve increased volunteer engagement and communication with new blog series and guest posts from instructors.
  • With Software Carpentry we’ve built better ways to support the instructors, with debrief discussions that have been well attended, a mentorship subcommittee, and now a mentorship program for new instructors.
  • A significant shift over the last year has been an increased interest in development of curriculum, and we are working to support that interest.
  • We have also continued to gain visibility, with podcasts, mentions in articles and invitations to speak at and participate in conferences.

We are excited for future opportunities and want to continue to focus on the community, re-commit to quality lessons, effective lesson infrastructure, and to building a sustainable organization. A set of motions and discussions guide those directions for the year ahead.


Motion: We will begin a discussion with the Software Carpentry steering committee about a merger into a joint organization.

Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry are two independently established and operated organizations, but we share a common goal of promoting education in reproducible science skills, both in data literacy (DC) and software development (SWC) and values of community. We work together to implement shared policies, memberships and coordinate staff and leadership. Given the increasing levels of integration between DC and SWC, the Data Carpentry Steering Committee passed this motion to begin discussions. Software Carpentry has passed the same motion.

Motion: A major focus of staff effort over over the next 6 months will be to finalize the existing Ecology, Genomics and Geospatial lessons.

Lessons in Ecology, Genomics and Geospatial data have been generated and taught. We commit to finalizing these lessons to create a positive and high-quality experience for both instructors and learners.

Motion: A major focus of staff effort over the next 12 months will be building the necessary processes for scaling community-led lesson development and maintenance.

With an increased interest in lesson development, a commitment to the process of lesson development and maintenance will make curriculum support and development sustainable and most effectively create lesson development opportunities for the community.

Motion: Focus over the next 12 months on sustainability through increasing the number of Member Organizations and non-member-organization workshops.

In order to align financial sustainability efforts with core activities, we will focus on our programs of offering workshops and Member Organization opportunities.

Motion: We commit to working with the Carpentry community to develop and run a “CarpentryCon” in 2018.

Conferences provide participants opportunities to expand knowledge and find solutions to problems, share ideas and work with others, meet other people and learn beyond their areas of interest and experience. The Carpentry community has expressed an interest in and would greatly benefit from a conference opportunity. We want to commit to a “CarpentryCon”, and to planning that will make this event as inclusive and representative as possible.

Other Outcomes

We are hiring a Community Development Lead who will focus on building community, and the Steering Committee enthusiastically supports this hire!

Diversity is something that distinguishes us as an organization. It needs to continue to be a conscious effort, and we will be setting deliberate milestones to improve the diversity of our volunteers and the communities we reach, geographically and underserved groups within regions.

We will work towards a process where individual lessons can be certified as Data Carpentry lessons, so we will have an ecosystem of both workshops that we offer and individual lessons. Data Carpentry has so far focused on lessons as a part of 2-day workshop curriculum. Often however there are topics or subjects that don’t require a full two days and could be taught as a part of a shorter workshop or as modules within longer courses, and this model will support the development of those types of lessons.

As people who have been involved in Data Carpentry since its beginnings, we’ve been excited for the organization and community’s growth and move toward sustainability, and we look forward to more work and opportunities in the year ahead!

Dialogue & Discussion

Comments must follow our Code of Conduct.

Edit this page on Github