First ReproHack in the Netherlands
Last Saturday, I visited Leiden University Library to join the first ReproHack in the Netherlands. ReproHack is short for Reproducibility Hackathon, an event at which participants hack-on trying to reproduce existing published research based on the journal article. In the lead up to the event, researchers were encouraged to nominate their paper(s) for a reproducibility “test”. The organizers thoughtfully printed out all the articles in advance and posted them on the walls around the venue.
Almost 60 people showed up, despite it being a quite chilly weekend day. The participants’ backgrounds encompassed a whole range of research domains, with the majority being PhD candidates and post-docs. What struck me most about the audience was the level of energy, excitement and willingness to make Open Science happen, as well as the eagerness to learn.
Here we go
The event started with a short introduction by the organiser, followed by a talk by ReproHack funder Anna Krystalli. Anna brought a personal perspective to research reproducibility and introduced a few packages that can be used to make it easier to write reusable code for research.
Anna also described the research compendium concept. It was the first time I heard about this. The research compendium concept was introduced first by Gentleman and Temple in 2004:
“”…We introduce the concept of a compendium as both a container for the different elements that make up the document and its computations (i.e. text, code, data, …), and as a means for distributing, managing and updating the collection.”
There was another invited speaker, John Boy, who shared with us his perspective on Open Science.
Getting hands dirty
After a welcome coffee and Anna’s talk, participants walked around to pick the research they would like to review and formed small groups to work together. The goal of this exercise was to collect experience on the reproducibility, transparency and reusability of available content.
What I found special about the event is the positive atmosphere of collaborative learning and sharing. It is by no means an attempt to criticise or discredit work. On the contrary, it helps us to gain a better understanding of the challenges behind research reproducibility and to come together with solutions that will have the positive impact on our scholarly publications.
It was a really busy day. We ultimately managed to evaluate 21 out of 31 submitted articles.
Improvised hands-on session
While enjoying a delicious lunch, the discussions meandered into the practical aspects of making research code more findable and citable. I gave a short presentation on how to connect GitHub with Zenodo and on the ways to make your software more FAIR.
I believe the event achieved more than its initial aims. It brought together like-minded people, helped them to exchange ideas, share solutions and build relationships in this growing Open Science Community.
For me as a community manager who is less directly involved in research and who doesn’t have that many opportunities to write code, the event provided a window on researchers’ laudable efforts to make their research more accessible to others.