Data-Driven Tracking and Discovery of R Consortium Activities

By November 14, 2019 Blog

by Benaiah Ubah

R is a fast-growing language for statistical computing and graphics backed by a powerfully inclusive community of users and developers. The R community received a significant boost when some enterprises came together to establish the R Consortium in 2015. Since then, the R Consortium has clearly proven its purpose by operating transparently and in an unbiased manner – supporting the R Foundation, infrastructure that broadly affects the R community, tools that enhance the R software, R user-groups, events and diversity on a global scale. R Consortium’s top level projects – R-Hub, R-Ladies, the RUGS program, Events sponsorship, the R Community Diversity and Inclusion program – , working groups and other ISC funded projects highlight the significance of R Consortium’s involvement as a major supporter of several critical developments around R in recent times.

To further enhance transparency, measure impact and achieve even greater community inclusiveness, the R Consortium in Fall 2018, funded a new data-driven initiative to provide a way for the R community to discover and track its activities over the years. This infrastructure is dedicated to curating and rendering R Consortium activities via dashboards using open-source technologies – all data and code are available at this GitHub repository that is primarily maintained by me.

For a start, the ISC approved the development of dashboards that highlight R Consortium’s accomplishments, with a focus on ISC Funded Projects, RUGS program and Events/Marketing program. I am delighted to communicate that, this initial scope has been successfully covered and the corresponding milestones delivered. The next iteration of development would include more aspects of R Consortium’s activities that have broad impact on the larger R community. The following sections of this article presents reasons why a data-driven initiative is useful for tracking R Consortium’s activities, the deliverables for this project, benefits and future directions.

Why a data-driven initiative to track R Consortium activities?

1. In the past 5 years, R Consortium has supported many R initiatives that encompass user-groups, events, diversity, technical infrastructure, documentation, developing teaching materials, working groups, etc But, how could the impact of these initiatives be measured in numbers over the years? How could the global distribution of activities like, the user-group and event support programs be ascertained?

2. ISC funded projects (both completed and ongoing) are usually curated on a single web page.  This initiative provides a way for searching for these projects by year, grant-cycle, status, primary investigator, etc. 

3. Before embarking on this project, there was no way of ascertaining the distribution of funding across work-products.  A data-driven infrastructure will help those without experience applying for ISC grants, by giving them an overview of work-products and cash-grant ranges that have received more funding over time.

4. R Consortium’s decision makers may find a data-driven initiative helpful in planning future programs and packages.

5. Prospective R Consortium members that are contemplating joining the R Consortium, could easily find and understand R Consortium’s past accomplishments in a broad, transparent, insightful, and aggregated manner.

6. Finally, comparing R Consortium’s mission statement with its accomplishments from a data-driven perspective, is something that the R Foundation, the global R community, present and future members of the R Consortium would like to track and provide feedback on over time, for the long-term growth and stability of the R ecosystem.

Project Deliverable

We  now present to the R community, a suite of dashboard pages that render the corresponding R Consortium activities  in a data-driven manner:

  1. ISC funded projects dashboard
  2. R User Group Support program dashboard
  3. Events / Marketing program dashboard
  4. A landing dashboard page that summarizes details from other dashboard pages for enhanced user experience.
  5. A GitHub repository to find all code and data for this infrastructure.

Benefits

  1. ISC projects dashboard: Easily find ISC projects with enough information to contact project owners for those thinking of contributing to projects. Find most popular work-products ad cash-grant ranges for those without experience applying for grants.
  • RUGS program dashboard: Understand the global distribution of funded user-groups and their funding-level distribution. Find information about these groups and how to get in touch with those within your reach.
  • Events / Marketing dashboard: Understand the global distribution of sponsored events.
  • Landing dashboard: Find aggregated summaries around all of ISC projects, RUGS program, Events/Marketing program and the R-Ladies project.

Future Directions

It would be interesting to explore more of R Consortium activities like working groups, and ISC projects that have observable global impact on a running basis.

Join R Consortium

If you are an enterprise that benefits from using the R environment, please consider joining R Consortium to make the R ecosystem a better one.

Acknowledgments

I appreciate the contributions that came from John Mertic, Hadley Wickham and Joseph Rickert especially at the initial phases of this idea.