Data Carpentry Workshop

First Carpentry Workshop at Sol Plaatjie University

From 18 to 20 March 2019 academics and students from one of the youngest South African Universities, had the privilege to participate in a Data Carpentry workshop at SPU.

Earlier this month the last RCCPII Carpentries workshop ran at Sol Plaatjie University in Kimberley. It was the second Carpentries workshop to be hosted in Kimberley, but a first for SPU.

RCCPII collaborated with Ms Fezile Matsebula, a lecturer in the SPU School of Natural and Applied Sciences, to bring the workshop to staff and students. The workshop was hosted in the SPU Library’s fantastic teaching venue. 31 participants joined the workshop with most of them coming from the IT department as undergraduates, while lecturers from other environments, such as economics and natural sciences also joined in.

The workshop kicked off with an introduction to data organisation in spreadsheets. Learners had the opportunity to experience first hand the challenges that goes with collecting high quality data but also the importance of thinking through the project and end objectives before data collection even begins. Later on day one learners were introduced to a free and opensource tool, OpenRefine. OpenRefine is used by data scientists across the globe for data cleaning. Participants particularly enjoyed learning about the wonders of having the software create a list of all the steps taken to clean one’s data, rather than having to do that manually.

The last module covered data analysis and visualisation in R. Here learners had the opportunity to build on what was learned earlier in the workshop and it was particularly interesting to see how much easier it is to analyse data that has been formatted and cleaned up properly.

Load shedding disrupted the workshop but instructors took the opportunity to host discussion groups where four articles related to the workshop content, were discussed. The articles were selected from the 10 Simple Rules series of the PLOS journal:

Participants enjoyed the discussions tremendously and provided positive feedback on this activity.

Software Carpentry Data Carpentry R OpenRefine Data cleaning Data analysis Data visualisation