The Big Data and Informatics Research Flagship and the UKZN Carpentries Club hosted two workshops on Research Data and Computer Literacy towards the end of last year (2018) on the Westville campus.

Funded through UKZN’s capacity development programme, the Data Carpentry workshop focused on data organisation using spreadsheets, data cleaning with OpenRefine and data analysis and visualisation with R (for details see

The Software Carpentry workshop taught an introduction to repetitive tasks with the Unix shell, programming with Python, and version control and collaboration with Git and GitHub (for details see

The workshops attracted a total of 82 participants (with more people on the waitlist) from 11 Schools on all five UKZN campuses.

Participants installed all required software on their own laptops and left the workshop ready to work on their own problems. The feedback was very positive. Comments included: ‘Inspiring input to consider new ways of data analysis’; ‘I have had R class before but this is where I think I am learning R for real’; ‘The instructors were patient and accommodating. Thank You!’ and ‘Great presentation, I learned a lot about Github’.

The UKZN Carpentries Club was launched in November last year to promote data science literacy among researchers at the University. The two workshops were the first activity of the club with more workshops planned for this year.

The aim is to establish study groups at the different campuses to support staff and students in making use of programs such as Python and R for their research.

Students and staff wanting to get involved in the activities of the Club, perhaps by helping to run a study group, becoming an instructor for future workshops or hosting a workshop in your school/department must sign up here:

Find out more about the Carpentries and its way of teaching data and research computing skills at

Words: Katrin Tirok