ELIXIR teams up with The Carpentries to boost its training programme

ELIXIR and The Carpentries initiative have agreed to extend their collaboration in organising and delivering training in ELIXIR Nodes. As part of the collaboration, The Carpentries will organise close to 20 Software and Data Carpentry training workshops across ELIXIR Nodes, and two Instructor Training workshops to train a number of specialised instructors. This collaboration is funded by EU Horizon 2020 project ELIXIR-EXCELERATE (676559) as part of the training activities (WP11).

The agreement will allow researchers in ELIXIR Nodes to fully benefit from the popular and proven model of hands-on teaching of research computing and data manipulation. ELIXIR and The Carpentries are already working together, with many ELIXIR people engaged in all areas of The Carpentries from Executive Council and Trainers, to lesson developers and maintainers. Allegra Via, Mateusz Kuzak, Fotis Psomopoulos and Paula Andrea Martinez are in the ELIXIR training coordinators group as well as active Carpentries trainers and instructors. Already 10 Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry workshops and one Instructor Training workshop at EMBL are planned as a part of this collaboration.

Celia van Gelder, co-lead of the ELIXIR Training Platform said: “Providing training to researchers in data manipulation and computing is a key priority for ELIXIR. Even though there is a lot of materials available to teach these topics, they are scattered, hard to discover and access, and often assume too much prior knowledge. The Carpentries workshops aim specifically at scientists with no background in computer science. The materials used for the workshops are openly available and developed and constantly improved by global community of experts and experienced instructors.”

During the two-day Carpentries workshops, participants learn essential practices to effectively work with software and data, tailored to improve their research productivity. The focus is on skills that help in replicating data manipulation and automating routine tasks, all in the context of reproducible research.

Allegra Via, leader of Train-the-Trainer ELIXIR projects and Training Coordinator in ELIXIR Italy said: “The Carpentries Instructor Training workshops will complement the ELIXIR Train-the-Trainer programme, and will help us establish a sustainable pool of professional Carpentry instructors within ELIXIR, who can then deliver high quality training across ELIXIR Nodes.”

The current ELIXIR partnership with The Carpentries builds on a Pilot Software and Data Carpentry programme in ELIXIR, which ran in 2015 and 2016. The Pilot organised a series of five Software and Data Carpentry workshops (in the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Slovenia) and provided support for additional six training workshops organised by individual ELIXIR Nodes. In total, the programme trained more than 240 life science researchers and instructors from 13 ELIXIR Nodes. The experience and outcomes of the Pilot were presented in a paper published in ELIXIR F1000R Channel:

Pawlik A, van Gelder CWG, Nenadic A et al. Developing a strategy for computational lab skills training through Software and Data Carpentry: Experiences from the ELIXIR Pilot action. F1000 Research 2017, 6:1040 doi: 10.12688/f1000research.11718.1

Additionally, the “ELIXIR Software development best practices” group, which is part of the ELIXIR Tools Platform, has proposed Four simple recommendations to encourage best practices in research software aiming to help researchers and developers adopt Open Source Software (OSS) practices and thus improve the quality and sustainability of research software. In order to encourage researchers and developers to adopt the four recommendations (4OSS) and build FAIR software, ELIXIR, with The Carpentries, is developing specific training materials, taking advantage of the Carpentries approach and experience in training materials development and maintenance. This effort started with a workshop at CarpentryCon 2018 and on 1-3 of August ELIXIR-NL hosted lesson hackathon in Utrecht to start filling in the content. 15 people from both The Carpentries and the ELIXIR communities were present there, as well as Francois Michonneau, curriculum development lead from The Carpentries.

We look forward to furthering our work with ELIXIR through this agreement!

ELIXIR News Release

About ELIXIR Training

Bioinformatics training to help life-science researchers work effectively with ELIXIR resources is a key priority for ELIXIR. The ELIXIR Training Platform is building sustainable infrastructure to provide access to training courses, tools, resources, and expertise, including monitoring and evaluation. The Platform consists of three components: (1) ELIXIR courses for researchers, developers and trainers, (2) Training evaluation and (3) Training tools, including ELIXIR Training portal and e-learning platform.

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