Virtual Data Carpentry Workshop

Smithsonian Institution


May 19/20 and 26/27, 2020

9 AM - Noon

Instructors: Carrie Craig, Mike Trizna, Matt Kweskin

Helpers: Vanessa Gonzalez

General Information

Data Carpentry develops and teaches workshops on the fundamental data skills needed to conduct research. Its target audience is researchers who have little to no prior computational experience, and its lessons are domain specific, building on learners' existing knowledge to enable them to quickly apply skills learned to their own research. Participants will be encouraged to help one another and to apply what they have learned to their own research problems.

For more information on what we teach and why, please see our paper "Good Enough Practices for Scientific Computing".

Who: The course is aimed at graduate students and other researchers. You don't need to have any previous knowledge of the tools that will be presented at the workshop.

Where: This training will take place online. The instructors will provide you with the infromation you will need to connect to this meeting.

When: May 19/20 and 26/27, 2020. Add to your Google Calendar.

Requirements: Participants must bring a laptop with a Mac, Linux, or Windows operating system (not a tablet, Chromebook, etc.) that they have administrative privileges on. They should have a few specific software packages installed (listed below).

Accessibility: We are dedicated to providing a positive and accessible learning environment for all. Please notify the instructors in advance of the workshop if you require any accommodations or if there is anything we can do to make this workshop more accessible to you.

Contact: Please email for more information.


Registration will open at 10AM EDT on Thursday, May 14

Code of Conduct

Everyone who participates in Carpentries activities is required to conform to the Code of Conduct. This document also outlines how to report an incident if needed.

Collaborative Notes

We will use this collaborative document for chatting, taking notes, and sharing URLs and bits of code.


Please be sure to complete these surveys before and after the workshop.

Pre-workshop Survey

Post-workshop Survey


Day 1 (Tue May 19)

Tidy Data with Excel and OpenRefine

Before starting Pre-workshop survey
9:00 AM Workshop Introduction
9:15 AM Data Organization in Spreadsheets
10:15 AM Break
10:30 OpenRefine for Data Cleaning
Noon END

Day 2 (Wed May 20)

Querying Data with SQL

9:00 AM Previous Day Review and Question Session
9:15 AM Introduction to SQL
9:45 AM Basic Queries
10:15 AM Break
10:30 AM SQL Aggregation and aliases
11:15 AM Joins (if time allows)
Noon END

Day 3 (Tue May 26)

Working with data with R

9:00 AM Previous Day Review and Question Session
9:15 AM Introduction to R and RStudio
10:00 AM Manipulating Data Frames with dplyr
10:30 AM Break
10:45 AM More Data Frames with dplyr
Noon END

Day 4 (Wed May 27)

Visualizing data with R

9:00 AM Previous Day Review and Question Session
9:30 AM Data Visualization with ggplot2
10:15 AM Break
10:30 AM More Data Visualization with ggplot2
11:30 AM Workshop wrap-up
Noon END


To participate in a Data Carpentry workshop, you will need access to the software described below. In addition, you will need an up-to-date web browser.

We maintain a list of common issues that occur during installation as a reference for instructors that may be useful on the Configuration Problems and Solutions wiki page.

Spreadsheet Installation

You will need a spreadsheet program (like Microsoft Excel) for the Data Organization in Spreadsheets lesson.

If you do not have Microsoft Excel installed on your computer, you can use the Smithsonian-provided Office 365, available through You can also use Google Sheets, if you are more familiar with that interface.

OpenRefine Installation

Please install OpenRefine 3.4 beta from If you have a Windows computer, choose "Windows kit with embedded Java". If you have a Mac computer, the only version provided does not require Java.

If you are not able to install OpenRefine on your computer for any reason, we have a browser-based installation available at

DB Browser for SQLite

SQL is a specialized programming language used with databases. We use a simple database manager called SQLite in our lessons. We will use the DB Browser for SQLite program, which is available for all major platforms. The latest version for Mac is here and Windows is here. On a Mac, open the .dmg file and then open the "DB Browser" icon. On Windows, extract the zipped file and then open "DB Browser for SQLite" icon in the extracted file.


The setup instructions for the Data Carpentry Ecology workshops (with R) can be found at the workshop overview site.