The Carpentry programmes teach essential computing and data skills to researchers across all disciplines.
The term ‘software carpentry’ was coined in 1998 by Greg Wilson and Brent Gorda to stress the accessibility of the courses and differentiate the training from full software engineering.
The current The Carpentries project was formed in January 2018 when two projects, Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry, formally merged.
Software Carpentry was the first to be established, in 1998, and teaches researchers to create purpose-built tools, whether a Unix shell script to automate repetitive tasks or software code in programming languages such as Python, R, or MATLAB. This lets them build programs that can be read, re-used and validated, helping them to share and reproduce their research. Software Carpentry was rebooted in its current form in 2010, and the Institute played a significant role in spreading the programme in the UK and Europe.
Data Carpentry was established in 2014. It teaches the use of open source tools to do reproducible and scalable data management and analysis, and how to work with data more effectively using R or Python. Data Carpentry lessons are domain-specific, with coverage in biology, genomics, and social sciences, and other upcoming domains.
Many more new Carpentries are now emerging and joining the global Carpentry community - for example, Library Carpentry, for people working in library- and information-related roles, Data Carpentry for Social Sciences, Data Carpentry for Digital Humanities, HPC Carpentry, and many more. These come together under the umbrella of The Carpentries but remain distinct lesson organisations.
The Carpentries workshops are taught by trained, peer, volunteer instructors. Instructors typically complete the Instructor Training programme.
The Institute runs some of these instructor training events, focussing on developing teaching skills that are broadly useful across all of the Carpentry curricula and teaching in general - with emphasis on the “best practices” of teaching computational skills based on key educational research findings and how they can be used to help people learn better and faster.
History of our partnership with The Carpentries
The Institute shares The Carpentries’ vision of teaching researchers to develop software that contributes to correct, reproducible and reusable research. We want to show the benefits of open development, sharing and collaborating with a community as well as best practices in openness, crediting, citing and developing research software.
The Institute became involved with what was then then Software Carpentry in 2011 by developing online lectures in advanced shell tricks and systems programming in Python. In April 2012, we participated in the first general UK workshop, led by Software Carpentry's creator, Greg Wilson, at the University College London. A fortnight later, in conjunction with the Digital Institute at Newcastle University and SoundSoftware, we delivered the first workshop to be run entirely by UK tutors, independent of Greg Wilson's team. We have since been involved in the majority of workshops run in the UK and helped to deliver workshops in mainland Europe, the USA and online. In February 2013, we volunteered to coordinate Software Carpentry activities in the UK. In early 2015, soon after the set up of the Organisational Membership scheme, we became a Software Carpentry Foundation Partner, a partnership which has now moved to The Carpentries.
"We are pleased to have the Software Sustainability Institute take over coordination of UK workshops. The Institute shares many goals and values with Software Carpentry, and we believe this partnership will benefit both organisations." – Greg Wilson, Founder of Software Carpentry and then Executive Director of the Software Carpentry Foundation.
The Institute organised the UK’s first Data Carpentry workshop in the UK in November 2014 at the University of Manchester.