Communities of Practice in Latin America. R and Friends

By Yanina Bellini Saibene in Panel English Education

July 6, 2020


July 6 – 1, 2020


10:00 AM – 12:00 AM




English Script for the presentation “Communities of Practice in Latin America: R and Friends”

Slide 1: Title Slide

  • Presenter: Laura Acion
  • Back up presenter: Paloma Rojas
  • Collaborators: Yanina Bellini Saibene, Paola Corrales
  • Content: Welcome to the presentation of Communities of Practice in Latin America: R and Friends for useR!2020. There is a shape of Latin America composed by the hex logos of the initiatives that will be presented. Next slide.

Slide 2: Authors

  • Presenter: Laura Acion
  • Back up presenter: Paloma Rojas
  • Collaborators: Yanina Bellini Saibene, Paola Corrales, Elio Campitelli
  • Content: This slide includes names and photos of 12 of the abstract authors from 6 countries of the authors that accepted to contribute to this presentation when we cast a wide net to include as many as possible R referents and projects from Latin America, including expats. Next slide.

Slide 3: Authors (cont)

  • Presenter: Laura Acion
  • Back up presenter: Paloma Rojas
  • Collaborators: Yanina Bellini Saibene, Paola Corrales, Elio Campitelli
  • Content: Authors names and photos continue here, with 12 authors from 9 countries. Next slide.

Slide 4: Authors (cont)

  • Presenter: Laura Acion
  • Back up presenter: Paloma Rojas
  • Collaborators: Yanina Bellini Saibene, Paola Corrales
  • Content: Final slide with 11 authors from 6 countries. They didn´t want or didn´t have enough time to contribute their photo in the midst of the pandemic. These authors are a small subset of people representing all that is going on about R and friends in Latin America. The next minutes of this video will cover briefly several of the R-related initiatives in the region. We will close the video sharing some lessons learned and how we see our future. We hope to inspire this type of development in other underrepresented regions in the R Community. Next slide.

Slide 5: LatinR

  • Presenter: Luis Verde A.
  • Back up presenter: Riva Quiroga
  • Collaborators: Flor D’Andrea, Yanina Bellini Saibene
  • Content: LatinR is an international showcase for the use of R in research and development across Latin America. Since 2017, a group of highly-motivated chairs built a team of volunteers from the R community in Latin America to help organize and run the event. Our meetings are growing each year, over 200 participants from 15 different countries took part in the latest edition. The first meeting took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2018, the second in Santiago, Chile in 2019, and the 2020 edition was moved from Montevideo, Uruguay, to a virtual format. Works in Spanish, Portuguese, or English are presented by and to users of all levels and from various academic or professional disciplines. Along with outstanding international plenary talks and tutorials, the conference has an important networking role. LatinR allows and, most importantly, promotes interaction and long term collaboration among R users in Latin America. Our meetings have been a starting point for new packages, local user groups, reading clubs, R-Ladies chapters, translations, and other initiatives in the region. We hope to continue growing and invite everyone to visit our website and to follow us on our social media channels. Next slide.

Slide 6: ConectarR

  • Presenter: Agustín Gómez Meléndez
  • Back up presenter: Frans van Dunné
  • Collaborators: Marcela Alfaro Córdoba
  • Content: ConectaR took place during January 24-26, 2019 at the University of Costa Rica, in San José, Costa Rica. It was the first event in Central America endorsed by The R Foundation, and it was held completely in Spanish. Our goal was to provide a space to create a community among R users in industry, academia, citizen science and teaching in the region, and we succesfully managed to welcome R enthusiasts from twelve countries. The three-day event consisted of talks, workshops, and a poster session. From a 150 participants, 30% were female, and 22% were full-time students. Professionals from finance, goverment, and data companies were present as well as faculty members from our major university in the country. Since then, the Costa Rican community has been growing and given the current situation, we are planning on having a virtual edition at the beggining of next year. ConectaR2021 is going virtual. Please stay connected, follow us on twitter. Next slide.

Slide 7: SatRday

  • Presenter: Beatriz Milz
  • Back up presenter and collaborator: Riva Quiroga
  • Content: SatRday is a conference about R and its applications, that happens all over the world. The events are organised by the local community, and we seek to make events with a respectful and inclusive environment. The first satRday event in Latin America was in Santiago, in 2018, in Chile. The second satRday event happened in São Paulo - Brasil, last year, (there is a picture of the event in the slide). The idea of making the event started after some of the organizers saw a panel about satRdays in useR last year. So, other events are planned to happen, like the second edition in Santiago de Chile this year (which probably is going to happen online), but the organization of some of the events are uncertain because of the pandemic, like the first edition in Concepción in Chile, and the second edition in Sao Paulo. One interesting point is that satRdays has a infrastructure to help to make easier to organize the event, like: a template to use in the website, a hex sticker, a code of conduct, and most important, we have a lot of other organizers that are glad to help each other. So, if you got interested to organize a SatRdays in your local community, the first step is to read about it in the website, there’s a lot of information there on how to get started! And if you want to organize SatRdays anywhere in Latin America, please get it touch so we can help each other! Next slide.

Slide 8: R-Ladies

  • Presenter: Denisse Fierro Arcos
  • Back up presenter: Ruth Chirinos
  • Collaborators: Flor D’Andrea, Yanina Bellini Saibene
  • Content:
    • R-Ladies is a global organisation that promotes gender diversity in the R community. Currently, it has 123 active chapters in 51 countries accross the world. In Latin America we have 49 chapters in 10 countries, making Latin America one of the best represented regions chapterwise. Chapters started in 2017 with the first active one being funded in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was quickly followed by 8 others chapters founded that same year. It continues to grow until this day. This year, for example, we have new chapters appearing in Mexico, the Galapagos Islands, and Argentina. Our members are also part of the R-Ladies Global Team.
    • COVID-19 has not stop R-Ladies. We have switched our events online thank to having access to a Zoom account from R-Ladies. One example of this switch has been R-Ladies La Paz in Bolivia with their study group, where they are using the book “R for Data Science” in Spanish to motivate people from gender minorities, including women, to learn about R.
    • Also COVID has promoted collaborations between chapters, especially within countries and between countries as well. So we have some examples Chapters such as Argentina that promoted their “First steps using Git” or Chile with their book club, which included several chapters within that country. I am part of the Ecuadorian team and we are also organizing a series of webinars with out three chapters getting together. Next slide.

Slide 9: rOpenSci

  • Presenter: Leonardo Collado Torres
  • Back up presenter: Laura Acion
  • Collaborators: Mauro Lepore, Rocío Joo
  • Content: Hola! R for open science, commonly known as rOpenSci, provides free technical review of R packages to improve the quality of open source software in order to maximize readability, usability, and usefulness. And at the same time minimize redundancy. rOpenSci pioneered the R unconference (unconf) events that were engineered to mix new R developers with seasoned veterans to learn from each other and break down access barriers. The rOpenSci community now includes a number of Latin American members. For example, Laura, Leonardo, and Mauro met at unconf2018 in Seattle, participate at rOpenSci, and have collaborated beyond rOpenSci. The relationship between rOpenSci and the Latin American community strengthened through the 2018 and 2019 LatinR conference, where Maëlle Salmon presented rOpenSci, and several community members shared their experience. Latin Americans are now authors, peer-reviewers, and guest-editors of rOpenSci packages – including chromer, gitignore, medrxivr, mvickm, Rpolyhedra, and tradestatistics. Latin Americans also participate by: sharing data, using and citing rOpenSci packages, engaging through GitHub issues, and joining rOpenSci community calls that are a great way for newcomers to get started. Furthermore, rOpenSci is in the process of expanding their R package peer-review process to other languages including Spanish. The discussion already started; you can follow it on rOpenSci’s Twitter account or at Personally, rOpenSci is a source of inspiration and a model community. Next slide.

Slide 10: CDSB

  • Presenter: Joselyn Chávez
  • Back up presenter and collaborator: Leonardo Collado Torres
  • Content: The Community of Bioinformatics Software Developers, or CDSB in Spanish, was born in 2018 with the goal of helping Latin American R users become R & Bioconductor developers and increase the representation of Latinoamericans in these communities. To achieve this, we have partenered with the Mexican Bioinformatics Network and the National Bioinformatics Node in Mexico to run a one week long advanced R workshop alongside other introductory workshops. We have a Slack workspace to foster the community the rest of the year and have helped CDSB members navigate scholarship applications and prepare presentations or posters of their work. That is, we help reduce language barriers and advise those who might not have local guidance on how to navigate these systems. We have also provided project-specific guidance through monthly meetings and GitHub code feedback, which lead to the first CDSB R/Bioconductor package called regutools by Joselyn, Carmina and Emiliano, that you can find a pre-print on bioRxiv and which was recently accepted for publication. Bioconductor and the R Consortium have provided us with support and a venue to share about our work, and we borrow useful community building techniques from others like rOpenSci, R-Ladies from Baltimore, and R-Ladies from Mexico City. Then we pass on this knowledge to other groups such as R-Ladies Querétaro and R-Ladies Cuernavaca. We like to highlight work by our members through our blog and would love to hear more about you through Twitter at CDSBMexico or through our website. For more information about us check the link in the bottom. Finally, join us for our 2020 summer virtual workshop in Spanish August 3rd to 7th. Next slide.

Slide 11: RUGs

  • Presenter: Laura Acion
  • Back up presenter: Roxana Villafañe
  • Collaborators: Elio Campitelli, Marcos Prunello
  • Content: Today there are several R User Groups in Latin America. These, shown here, are only the quote-unquote official RUGs sponsored by R Consortium, but there are also many other free-range, independent ones. When you join a User Group, the expectation is most likely that you’re mostly going to organise meetups and workshops, but what it usually turns out, is that the most meaningful moments are the informal ones. The after-meetup pub gatherings, the all-day whatsapp group. What really fuels the group is the social interaction between its members. Creating a welcoming and good-natured space is crucial for keeping the ideas flowing. Many of us learned that from R-Ladies chapters in Latin America. This not only ensures that everyone’s comfortable learning and sharing what they’ve learned, but it also allows for the surprising appearance of new projects. For example, the package presentes was brewed in the Buenos Aires slack. It all started when Florencia shared a new package with data about victims of Chilean state terrorism during their last military government. Since Argentina suffered through a similarly bloody military regime, our first thought was “Why don’t we do the same here?”. Some conversations and several lines of code later, and we now have the presentes package, which Diego is presenting in this very conference! Next slide.

Slide 12: R4DS Spanish and Datos Package

  • Presenter: Riva Quiroga
  • Back up presenter: Yanina Bellini Saibene
  • Collaborator: Mauro Lepore
  • Content: The resources to learn R in English are many, awesome, online, and free. But in Latin America few people can afford to learn English, and the resources in Spanish are few. To help solve this problem, we – the community – translated from English to Spanish one of the best resources to learn R today: The book “R for Data Science” – this book is free, online, popular, and now is available in Spanish thanks to this community effort. From that book we also translate every dataset. For this we developed the package {datos}, and designed it to engage first-time contributors. The workflow is simple: To translate the variables and values of a dataset, the contributor edits a single YAML file. This workflow has been effective and we are happy to announce is now guiding the development of a new version in Portuguese that will be released in the next few months. Next slide.

Slide 13: #DatosDeMiércoles + #30díasdegráficos

  • Presenter: Riva Quiroga
  • Back up presenter: Yanina Bellini Saibene
  • Collaborators: Julio Spairani
  • Content: While we were translating the book and developing {datos}, a question arose: how do we share this community efforts with a broader audience? How can these projects help to connect Spanish-speaking users within the active R community in Twitter? People from Latin America were participating actively in TidyTuesday. Although that is a great opportunity for learning, there are challenges that non-English speaking users face that go beyond the scope of this initiative, like dealing with encoding issues, or working with algorithms and training datasets customized to English language. And what about people who doesn’t speak English? #datosdemieRcoles, the Latin American cousin of #TidyTuesday was created with this aim. The idea is not only to use datasets that are in Spanish, but also datasets that are relevant for people from our Region. Currently, we are exploring new ways of fostering the community with this Twitter account. This year, for example, we decided to launch a 30 days dataviz challenge called #30díasdegráficos, as a way to celebrate the work of Florence Nightingale, a data visualization pioneer. It was a great opportunity for people to learn collaboratively about dataviz, to share their insights and discoveries, to highlight relevant datasets for our community, and for us to foster the Spanish-speaking R community no only in Latin America, but around the world. If you want to participate proposing a dataset for #datodemiéRcoles, please visit our github account. And stay tuned for the next dataviz challenge on our Twitter account! Next slide.

Slide 14: The Carpentries

  • Presenter: Flor D’Andrea
  • Back up presenter: Paola Corrales
  • Collaborators: Mauro Lepore, Paula Andrea Martinez
  • Content: The Carpentries builds global capacity in essential data and computational skills for conducting efficient, open, and reproducible research. Building a sustainable and active community in Latin America includes several iniatives: lesson translations, instructor training, workshop coordination, and fundraising. How to contact us? Via the mailing list and the Carpentries Slack in the carpentries-es channel. What are our outputs? Translating lessons to Spanish and incrementing workshops for the Latin American region. How are we growing? Network groups, short springs, supporting each other, and liasing with The Carpentries to stablish a strategic plan for regional growth. Next slide.

Slide 15: ReproHack

  • Presenter: Flor D’Andrea
  • Back up presenter and collaborator: Paloma Rojas-Saunero
  • Content: Reprohack is a growing community for researchers that are fighting the reproducibility crisis by sharing their experiences across disciplines. It is focused on organizing hackathons where participants attempt to reproduce published research from a list of proposed papers with public code and data. This way participants have a hands-on experience to learn how to make a paper reproducible and the features that are needed to achieve this. By the end of the hackathon they provide a structured feedback to authors. During the COVID19 lockdown, we hosted the first remote reproHack so far, which was very successful and had attendees from different countries and research fields. We are planning the first reproHack in Spanish for October this year. Follow us on Twitter. I want to thank Reprohack team Anna, Ricarda, Linda, Daniela, and Paloma. Next slide.

Slide 16: AI Inclusive

  • Presenter: Gabriela de Queiroz
  • Back up presenter: Yanina Bellini Saibene
  • Content: AI Inclusive is an organization that promotes diversity in the AI Community. We want to bring awareness around Artificial Intelligence issues and empower the community so they can enter in the AI field, a field that is not diverse at all. Our goal is to increase the representation and participation of gender minorities groups in AI by opening doors, encouraging, inspiring, and empowering people currently underrepresented in the AI community. In December 2019, we had our launch events in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and San Francisco, California. Together, we are building a community to make Artificial Intelligence more inclusive to everyone. Follow us and join us! Next slide.

Slide 17: Data Latam

  • Presenter: Frans van Dunné
  • Back up presenter: Agustín Gómez Meléndez
  • Collaborator: Mauro Lepore
  • Content: In May 2016 we started with the first Data Latam podcast, aimed at offering an easy entry point, in Spanish, to those interested in data science. We always ask our interviewees: “How did you get where you are?”, and the diversity of stories has been enormous. The podcast has documented role models for those members of the audience who want to start or continue their own career in data science. Most certainly for us as interviewers the stories have been inspiring. Soon after the podcasts we started organizing training events, always followed by a lunch. In this way we highlighted the importance of creating an opportunity for networking in a group that shares an interest in R. By the same token when we started the online webinars we always began with a round of introductions, but this has become more difficult with the numbers of people currently assisting. To date we have published 51 podcasts with more than 3000 people listening in each month in different countries in Latin America. We publish our monthly webinars on youtube where we have more than 20.000 views of the content. Thanks to the participation and effort of many people, today Data Latam is a Latin American community of professionals and academics, who apply data science in their day to day work. In our events, training sessions and extension programs we will continue to explore technologies, learn about data science, talk about trends and relevant events in industry and share new developments in the field. We invite you to participate! Next slide.

Slide 18: What Happens in the R Community…

  • Presenter: Yanina Bellini Saibene
  • Back up presenter: Paola Corrales
  • Collaborators: Paloma Rojas, Laura Acion
  • Content: What happens in the R Community doesn’t stay in the R Community. All the good practices of inclusive and diverse communities learned in several of the initiatives presented before, generate strong work teams within and beyond the R community. Examples of new communities and projects that go well beyond R are:
    • The study groups for RStudio Instructor Training and Certification
    • The community translation of the book Teaching Tech Together
    • MetaDocencia, a teaching community to teach how to teach online to Spanish-speaking teachers in the wake of Covid19

All these initiatives show how sustained and coordinated work in the region has helped the R community to grow and has had an impact beyond it. There is still a lot to be done, but what we’ve already achieved is very encouraging and provides a solid foundation for the future. Next slide.

Slide 19: Our Efforts

  • Presenter: Paola Corrales
  • Back up presenter: Yanina Bellini Saibene
  • Collaborators: Paloma Rojas, Laura Acion
  • Content: These initiatives are sustained by many people making a great effort behind the scenes, which is mostly voluntary. Some of the challenges that the communities face are translated into multiple positives, sustained, and a lot of invisible hard work. For example:
    • Looking for international funding because regional funding is very limited
    • Translating and generating content in our language, because English is most of the times a barrier to access knowledge
    • Joining forces across organizations and gathering capacities, which makes information, opportunities, and achievements more accessible and amplifies all voices louder.
    • Organize our own international conferences, in our languages and bring other events from the global Western North to our region
    • Promote and build spaces of representation in conferences and consolidated spaces in the international community (such as useR)
    • Becoming developers of the technology, instead of being only its users and its consumers
    • Thinking globally, acting locally, and considering the different realities within the region. Next slide.

Slide 20: Our Future

  • Presenter: Paloma Rojas
  • Back up presenter: Paola Corrales
  • Collaborators: Laura Acion, Yanina Bellini Saibene
  • Content: The Latin American R community is growing fast and so does the responsibility to make this growth solid and safe. Some of the future work that we, as community builders, look forward to fulfilling are:
    • Consolidating regional conferences with support of international sponsors
    • Sustaining through funded efforts the maintenance of translations as soon as the latest updates in English become available
    • Amplifying the voice of minorities within and outside the region
    • Bringing more educational and work-realted opportunities to the region
    • Connecting LatAm expats with their local communities
    • Giving support to R-Ladies and RUG chapters in those countries where the interest is present but haven´t found the space and support to start
    • Actively participating in other communities such as Forwards and plan joint activities with other R Communities like AfricaR and MiR
    • Increase our and other minorities representation in the R Core Team, the R Foundation, and the R Consortium. Next slide

Slide 21: Thank You!

  • Presenter: Paloma Rojas
  • Back up presenter: Paola Corrales
  • Collaborators: Laura Acion, Yanina Bellini Saibene
  • Content: Thank you! Thank you very much! Muchas gracias! Obrigado! Merci!
Posted on:
July 6, 2020
17 minute read, 3595 words
Panel English Education
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