Chapter 2 What brings you here? I want to …

Contributors to rOpenSci come with a wide range of motivations, which can include wanting a tangible way to participate in open science. First-time contributions may come from people in different places on a continuum of experience: from those who consider themselves newcomers exploring the landscape and trying to see where they fit, all the way to more experienced folks who know exactly what they have to offer and what they would like to contribute.

Contributing to rOpenSci can help you build your track record of public contributions (such as code or documentation on GitHub), and may help improve your CV for job, fellowship, or award applications.

Participation in an open source project like rOpenSci is more likely to be a lifecycle than a linear path. Having a package pass peer review for the first time can feel like a huge milestone. You might write a blog post about the package, “give back” by participating as a reviewer or mentoring someone else in their first review, or answering questions about package maintenance. But as a person becomes more experienced, they may move on. The value someone might get out of participating here will change over time and that is perfectly ok.

…users pursuing their own “selfish” interests build collective value as an automatic byproduct.
Tim O’Reilly on The Architecture of Participation

Do you already know what value you want to get out of contributing? (It’s ok if you don’t know yet.) To help you recognize yourself, we’ve categorized what we think contributors to rOpenSci want into: Discover; Connect; Learn; Build; Help. For each category, we list examples of what those contributions might look like and we link to our resources to help you get started.

Choose your path. It’s the journey, not the destination.

2.1 Discover

Making data, tools, and best practices more discoverable is part of our mission. For many, using an rOpenSci package is their first encounter with our organization. It’s the most common gateway to further involvement through connections with other users, or sharing use cases, for example.

Scan the “I want to” statements below to find something that interests you. Click on any action under a statement to go to a description of the relevant rOpenSci resource with details on how to contribute.

I want to:

Discover packages I can use to facilitate my research and access open data

Discover resources on best practices for software development

Discover resources on community building

2.2 Connect

An implicit value in participating in rOpenSci is the connections people make with other scientists, R users, developers, or research software engineers who want to do their research in a more open and reproducible fashion. The rOpenSci community is a welcoming place to connect with like-minded people who share interests and values and a motivation to develop the related skills, techniques, and practices.

Hey! You there! You are welcome here
Shannon Ellis’ rOpenSci blog post

Scan the “I want to” statements below to find something that interests you. Click on any action under a statement to go to a description of the relevant rOpenSci resource with details on how to contribute.

I want to:

Belong to a supportive community

Meet and work with other users and developers of open science packages

Gain exposure in the open science R community

Grow my local or topic-specific community

  • Read blog posts or tech notes, particularly those tagged with “Welcome”, “unconf”, or “icebreaker”
  • Read about our community, and some of the communities built by our members. See examples from the Australian “ozunconfs”, rOpenSci Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research, LatAm rOpenSci community, CDSB.

2.3 Learn

rOpenSci provides avenues for new and more seasoned R users and developers to learn - from learning by reading and listening, to learning by doing. All in an atmosphere of trust, generosity, giving credit, and sharing gratitude. We focus here on using, developing, documenting code, and building community, as they specifically align with our mission. People looking for more general R learning may refer to RStudio Education and The Carpentries.

Scan the “I want to” statements below to find something that interests you. Click on any action under a statement to go to a description of the relevant rOpenSci resource with details on how to contribute.

I want to:

Be informed by reading and listening

Improve the reproducibility of my research and apply best practices in my work

Improve my R and software development skills

Learn how to review R code

Learn how to get my package on CRAN

Learn about career paths in R and open science

2.4 Build

Perhaps the roles people associate most with contributing to rOpenSci involve building and influencing the research software landscape in R. This includes things like having a stake in package development and documentation, discussions on new projects like developing standards for statistical software peer review, or influencing the adoption of more open and reproducible research in your department, your institution, or your field.

Scan the “I want to” statements below to find something that interests you. Click on any action under a statement to go to a description of the relevant rOpenSci resource with details on how to contribute.

I want to:

Improve and promote open science in my field

Influence package development

Improve package documentation and examples

Promote best practices for R development

Promote software citations

Get more visibility and more users for my rOpenSci package

Get people to work on open issues in my rOpenSci package

2.5 Help

One major motivation for contributing to rOpenSci is people’s desire to “give back” in appreciation of good software, good infrastructure, and a good community in which folks share their gratitude often and openly. The ways you can help are limitless. We encourage people to support others by sharing their experience or expertise. Don’t underestimate the value of sharing your first-time experience doing a thing; that is an immense help to others who don’t yet recognize the value of their own contributions.

Scan the “I want to” statements below to find something that interests you. Click on any action under a statement to go to a description of the relevant rOpenSci resource with details on how to contribute.

I want to:

Support rOpenSci or give back to open source

Help other community members

Provide something I think the community is missing