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Utilizing R for Reproducible Open Science Research in Tucson, Arizona

By September 13, 2023Blog

The R-Consortium recently talked to Adriana Picoral of the R-Ladies Tucson about the diverse R community in Tucson, Arizona. Adriana founded the R-Ladies chapter in 2018 and has been actively involved with the local R Community. 

The group is hosting a virtual “Reproducing Open Science Research-2” event on September 15, 2023. The event focuses on reproducing an open science research paper in linguistics with experimental data. 

Please share about your background and involvement with the RUGS group.

I am an assistant professor of practice at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Arizona. My educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a Ph.D. in applied linguistics.

My journey with R and involvement with the R community began during my graduate studies. When I was a doctoral candidate, my research focused on quantitative analysis. As a result, I had experience with other programming languages, but I used R for the first time in 2014 for my research. Unfortunately, Tucson had no R-Ladies chapter, so I wanted to establish a local presence. Therefore, in 2018, I founded the R-Ladies Tucson.

It has been five years since I started this chapter. Many of our events initially focused on linguistics and applied linguistics, which was my study area as a graduate student. In 2020, after successfully defending my thesis, the onset of the pandemic forced our group to shift our events online. This change helped us connect with people from all over the US. We had “Tidy Tuesday” challenges at our weekly virtual meetings with selected datasets.

Can you share what the R community is like in Tucson? 

The R community here in Arizona and Tucson is well established. I’m part of the University of Arizona, which has many Data Science programs across different departments and colleges. Although Python plays a role, the predominant focus in these programs is R. I also co-direct an initiative called the Data Science Ambassadors program, which engages graduate students. 

The R community is diverse regarding academic backgrounds, including individuals from the biology, statistics, and computer science fields. I have been the ambassador for Women in Data Science, which is also focused on R. It is diverse in terms of backgrounds but maybe not as diverse in gender identification, but we are working towards that.

You have a Meetup on Reproducing Open Science Research 2. Can you share more on the topic covered? Why this topic? 

In this meetup, we will replicate open science research. This meetup is the second event of the Reproducing Open Research Series. We chose the paper “Learning, Inside and Out: Prior Linguistic Knowledge and Learning Environment Impact Word Learning in Bilingual Individuals” within the linguistics domain and features experimental data.

We will review the paper’s analysis, facilitating its replication while educating the participants about the process. Open science is really important, and having the data available is nice. Before working on your data, engaging with external data often provides a valuable learning opportunity.

Who was the target audience for attending this event? 

R-Ladies’ events ‌attract women, but we also welcome participants identifying as other genders. The event is aimed at graduate students lacking quantitative analysis training, focusing on language data and open science. So, I would say the target audience is women and graduate students.

Any techniques you recommend using for planning for or during the event? (Github, zoom, other) Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people unable to attend physical events in the future? 

After the pandemic, having experienced Zoom, we prefer to host most of our events online. Virtual events are much more inclusive as participants and the speaker don’t need to commute. Another proper technique that helps participants who do not have software installed on their systems is using Posit Cloud. We use Posit Cloud with our Rstudio ID, so they don’t have to install anything. I demonstrate all the steps from the beginning on how to start a new project on Posit Cloud and go from there. 

I also made a tutorial beforehand for the participants. We don’t record our sessions, as it encourages attendees to participate more openly and makes the events more interactive.