Two years and twelve projects as Community Manager at rOpenSci

By Yanina Bellini Saibene in Education Community 100DaysToOffload rOpenSci

June 23, 2024

A cartoon person smiling working at a computer and with many hands pointing at different activities and tools.

June 15th marked two years since I joined the rOpenSci staff as their Community Manager. To celebrate, I will start a series of articles called “Two Years and Twelve Projects” to share about a dozen initiatives I’ve worked on during this time.

The objective is to share what the work of a Community Manager is about with concrete examples of the kind of activities I did from June 2022 to June 2024. The tentative list of topics:

  1. Community Code of Conduct.
  2. Interview series “The stars of the R-Universe”.
  3. Multilanguage publication project.
  4. Champions Program.
  5. Communication strategy.
  6. Social media.
  7. Outreach campaigns.
  8. Community events.
  9. Write funding proposals.
  10. Analysis of community data.
  11. Writing and giving talks.
  12. Keeping our documentation complete and up to date.

This first article in the series will be about the role of the Community Manager in a scientific and technological community of practice and about three useful tools and frameworks for the role.

Participation model

When I joined rOpenSci, I had the opportunity to take a course on the fundamentals of community management. In that course, they presented their participation model, which has four modes to participate in a community:

  • Convey/Consume: the community convey content for people to consume independently of each other.

  • Contribute: People contribute in some way to the activities of the community.

  • Collaborate: People collaborate with each other in community activities, often with community support for success.

  • Co-create: People work together within the community to generate something together that they could not do before and that may involve other communities.

  • Champion: a special mode that goes through the other modes’ full spectrum.

Each member of the community can engage in these modes of participation at different moments in time and for different activities.

Another model that I like a lot is “Pathways of inclusion “:

Explained in detail in this blog post, it is a six-step model from “never heard of this” to “this is my thing.”

  • Awareness: I have heard about this.
  • Understanding: I understand what this is and what it might be like for me to be involved.
  • Identification: I can imagine myself doing this.
  • Access: I can do it physically, logistically, and financially.
  • Belonging: I feel like I fit in here and am part of it.
  • Ownership: I care enough to take responsibility for this.

These models help us consider the community’s members and how we can help them move forward on their path to participation and inclusion in rOpenSci. These frameworks help us strategize about what activities we do and how we organize them, what kind of content we share and in what format, what programs and interventions we develop, how we communicate, and how we receive feedback.

The Wheel of competencies and skills

In the same course, we were presented with a skills wheel that a community manager should have to be able to do her job. This wheel has five core competencies and 47 skills that compose them. The five competencies are:

  • Communication.
  • Interpersonal skills.
  • Program management.
  • Program development.
  • Technical skills.

In addition to these core competencies, you must also add specific knowledge about the community you are managing, for example, about scientific software development and R, as in the case of rOpenSci.

This skills wheel is a good starting point for analyzing what skills and knowledge you have and in what areas you need to improve. Also, to see what skills are present in your team and the people who are part of the community that can help you in your work.

Learner Personas for communities

The last tool has to do with the people we consider to be part of our community.

I use learner personas frequently in my courses, lessons, talks, and blog posts, so having personas to describe the community members was natural.

Although these personas are fictitious, they represent the different types of people who are part of the community and help us think about their needs, skills, knowledge, interests, and goals. This allows us to better identify who we are serving with each activity, product, content, program, and intervention we undertake, and it helps us in our overall community strategy. For rOpenSci to develop more than one person, this is one of them:

Andrea

  • General description: they are going to submit their packages to the rOpenSci peer review process. They know that this will ensure the quality of their software and also facilitate its publication in JOSS, which will give they academic credit. They hear that rOpenSci also reviews in Spanish, so if their review experience is good, they will probably offer to be a reviewer in their native language.

  • Main objective: to do peer review (to improve quality) and publish their software. In addition, getting the approval label from an international organization will help other colleagues take their software products more seriously as valid research products.

  • Barriers: If they do not manage to add the development of their R packages as a line of work to another research project when the current one ends, you will not be able to continue to spend time maintaining and improving them.

  • Success for Andrea: They passed the review process and submitted an article about their package to JOSS.

  • Success for the community: Andrea offers to review packages and advises others to use the rOpenSci review process.

Conclusions

The work of the community manager in a community of scientific and technological practice goes far beyond the management of social networks, which is what a role with that name is usually associated with in Argentina.

I have used three tools and frameworks that have helped me to think about my work:

  • Participation models.
  • Competence and skills wheel.
  • Learner Personas for communities.

CSCCE defines the role as the person who facilitates the activities of a community and the interactions between its members. Community management can be considered more of an in-reach activity than an outreach or public engagement activity.

Although I agree with this definition, you will see when I tell you that the outreach and public participation part is important in my case, especially in reaching more groups, organizations, and individuals.

See you in the following article with the details of the first project of the series.

Posted on:
June 23, 2024
Length:
5 minute read, 1028 words
Categories:
Education Community 100DaysToOffload rOpenSci
Tags:
Education Community 100DaysToOffload rOpenSci
See Also:
Proyecto 2 - Las Estrellas del Universo R
Project 2 - The Stars of R-Universe
Project 1 - rOpenSci's Code of Conduct and Code of Conduct Committee