Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

What Do People Want to Learn?

In the planning phase of organizing a Software Carpentry workshop for my home department of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry I started to wonder what participants want to learn. I designed a short survey to answer this question, and from my small department, ~20% (30 people) filled it in. Here's what they said:




(As with most good things in life, the code for these plots can be found on Github.)

I also asked survey participants to comment on any other computer programming and/or data science topics they would be interested in learning about. Here's what people said:

  • Circos plot!!!
  • VBA (any level)
  • Processing of strings as in sequencing data would be useful
  • Reproducible Research and experimental planning, ensuring that experiments are
  • well-designed, valid, reproducible and well-documented.
  • Data visualization, both static and interactive
  • S plus
  • perl/latex
  • Software to create nice figures and charts
  • SAS
  • Perl

My takeaway from this survey that that people (well, at least Molecular Biologists and Biochemists) are most interested in learning R or Python (and not Matlab) and that we are on track with the level of focus for these workshops: the majority of people are interested in a workshop for novices.

Disclaimer: This is a small survey (N = 30) and from a single discipline. I would be very interested to hear and/or find out if these findings differ across disciplines and/or geography.

Dialogue & Discussion

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