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R Consortium and You – How to get involved

By Blog, Events

By Mehar Pratap Singh, CEO and Founder – ProCogia

R consortium fulfills a unique need in the growing data science space.  Also, R language resources are critical tools in the data-driven economy. The R ecosystem productizes openly developed technology into commercial products and solutions. Businesses sustain the virtual cycle by reinvesting profits into the project and technical community.

R consortium sits under the umbrella of the Linux Foundation. R consortium is here to support the R community to promote, develop and extend the reach of R. The R Consortium’s open-source governance and foundation model has been uniquely positioned to benefit the worldwide community of users, maintainers, and software developers. You will be able to find out about the who, the what and the why around R-consortium

You will also learn about:

  • How R Consortium connects the dots within the R community & promotes collaboration
  • R Consortium mission and vision
  • R Consortium Membership
  • The impact of R Consortium
  • Projects with sustainable ecosystems matter
  • R Consortium Funded Activities and Projects
  • Working Groups drive industry engagement
  • How can you get involved?

Bottom line is, R Consortium welcomes members from all types of organizations!

From the useR! 2021 conference

Also, I wanted to share my experience at the recent useR! 2021 conference. The keynote presentations from July 5- 9 conference were very interesting. Below are some my key takeaways:

1. R Spatial analysis

R Spatial is a lively community of people using R for analyzing spatial data. Things took off from 2005 on when packages like sp, rgdal, rgeos and raster provided shareable infrastructure for spatial vector and raster data. R Spatial has constantly relied on the OSGEO libraries GDAL, PROJ and GEOS for I/O, coordinate transformations, and geometrical operations. Upcoming changes for R Spatial include switching to spherical geometry, handling of data cubes, and time-dependent coordinate reference systems that cope with plate tectonics.

Speaker: Professor Edzer Pebesma  at the Institute for Geoinformatics of the University of Münster.

2. Tools and technologies for supporting algorithm fairness and inclusion

Graphic representations created by R are easily understood by people with no background in statistics, which makes it a great tool for advancing public policy and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Inyathi ibuzwa kwabaphambili” is a Xhosa proverb, which means wisdom is learned or sought from the elders, or those ahead in the journey. In this multi-contribution keynote, we will hear from those ahead in the journey – Dorothy Gordon, Achim Zeileis, Kristian Lum and Jonathan Godfrey.

Dorothy Gordon, chair of the UNESCO Information For All Program, talked about making technology accessible particularly to women and Africans, and how utilizing tools such as R can help advance public policy. Achim Zeileis, Professor of Statistics, University of Innsbruck, Austria, will discuss making the color schemes in data visualizations accessible for as many users as possible.

Speakers: Achim Zeileis; Dorothy Gordon; Kristian Lum; Jonat Godfrey

3. Can we do this in R? – Answering questions about air quality one code at a time

Every time we encounter a large dataset, a new modelling approach, a new statistical technique, a new visualization challenge, we ask ourselves: “Can we do this in R?” and for the past four years (since we started this work), the answer has been a resounding “yes.”

Speaker: Meenakshi Kushwaha, Co-Founder and Director of Research, ILK Labs, Bangalore

4. Teaching how to teach without leaving anyone behind

Metadocencia was born in March 2020 when the pandemic forced us to change the way we teach and learn. We began by running a workshop with evidence-based educational methods that could be applied in a simple way. We also provided open resources to encourage effective teaching practices and invited people to share their experiences and form a community. A year later, we opened 3 new workshops and reached more than 1500 people in 30 countries.

Speakers: Paola Corrales; Elio Campitelli; Ivan Poggio

5. Expanding the Vocabulary of R Graphics

R Graphics system defines a graphics vocabulary for R – a set of possible graphics operations like drawing a line, coloring in a polygon or setting a clipping region. This talk will describe work on the graphics engine that expands its vocabulary to include gradient fills, pattern fills, clipping paths, and masks.

Speaker: Paul Murrell, Department of Statistics, The University of Auckland

6. Research software engineers and academia

Nearly all research relies on research software, yet we are still lacking adequate acknowledgment and career paths for RSEs. I want to discuss the status quo and future of software in research, the role of the R community, and what it has to do with my personal path.

Speaker: Heidi Seibold, Group lead of the Open AI in Health group at Helmholtz AI

7. The R-universe project

R-universe is a new platform by rOpenSci under which we experiment with various ideas for improving publication and discovery of research software in R. The system automatically tracks upstream git package repositories, builds binary packages for Windows and Mac, renders vignettes, and makes data available.

Speaker:  Jeroen Ooms, Staff research engineer at UC Berkeley

8. Communication – elevating data analysis to make a real impact

Data analysis is key to identify patterns, understand processes and guide effective policy-making to solve real world problems. Data journalist Catherine Gicheru and atmospheric scientist Katherine Hayhoe will share their work and experience communicating key data results to the general public and stakeholders.

Speakers:  Catherine Gicheru; Katherine Hayhoe

Please connect with us using any of the below methods

Web –

LinkedIn –

Twitter – @RConsortium

Interview with Nontsikelelo Shongwe, Co-Organizer of the Eswatini UseR Meetup Group

By Blog

On February 7th, 2021, in the very first in the Why R? World Series, Kevin O’Brien of the Why R? Foundation spoke with Nontsikelelo Shongwe, an enthusiastic R user from Eswatini, and co-organizer of the Eswatini UseR meetup group. (Eswatini is located in southeastern Africa, surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique.) 

In this interview, Nontsikelelo introduces the landscape of R users in Eswatini and describes her boundary breaking experiences as a young R user. Many thanks to Why R? for giving Nontsikelelo the chance to share her inspiring story.

You can watch the full interview below.


0:00 Brief Introduction

1:07 Eswatini

2:20 Nontsikelelo Shongwe Background

3:00 Eswatini R User Group

4:30 Future R Goals

5:18 Eswaiti R User Group Members

5:50 What do Eswaitinians need R for? 

6:43 Favorite R packages?

7:55 Do you want to go abroad to represent Eswatini?

8:50 Other African R Groups

9:20 R Ladies Eswatini?

9:40 COVID-19 in Eswatini

10:20 Last Words

The Why R? Foundation exists to support local R communities around the world, and share ideas and projects virtually. 

More Info:

Twitter: @EswataniUseR

EswatiniUseR Group

Manzini, SZ
64 Members

This is a group for anyone interested in learning and sharing best practices in analyzing data in R

Check out this Meetup Group →

Latin American Communities and Organizations: useR!2020 Video

By Blog

This useR!2020 session and video was organized by Laura Acion, Yanina Bellini Saibene, Paola Corrales, and Paloma Rojas Saunero. Leonardo Collado Torres coordinated the blog post submission.

On June 19th, 2020, we filmed a video for useR!2020 showcasing the communities and organizations we are involved in that are for Latin Americans or have Latin American participants. In this blog post, we wanted to highlight these initiatives and remind everyone that we are more than happy to help you launch similar initiatives in your local communities.

  • LatinR: LatinR is a trilingual international conference on the use of R in research and development across Latin America. Since launching in 2018, our annual meetings have been a starting point for new packages, local user groups, reading clubs, R-Ladies chapters, translations, and other initiatives in the region.
  • ConectaR: ConectaR 2019 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. You can find more information here.
  • satRday: SatRday is a conference about R and its applications, that happens all over the world, and it is organized by the local community. Two satRdays events happened in Latin America: in Santiago – Chile and São Paulo – Brazil. If you want to organize a satRday anywhere in Latin America, please get it touch so we can help each other!
  • R-Ladies: R-Ladies is a global organisation that promotes gender diversity in the R community. It has 123 active chapters in 51 countries around the world, of which 49 are found across 10 Latin American countries. Some Latin Americans are part of the R-Ladies Global Team, including its leadership. COVID-19 has not stopped us, instead, we have migrated online and fostered alliances among different chapters. All in an effort to give gender minorities in the R community the opportunity to learn R in a safe and supportive environment. Join us!
  • rOpenSci: R for open science, rOpenSci, provides free technical review of R packages to improve the quality of open source software in order to maximize readability, usability, usefulness, and minimize redundancy. Their peer-review process will soon be translated to Spanish and you can get involved!
  • CDSB: the Community of Bioinformatics Software Developers (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 Latinx in these communities. For more information about CDSB check
  • RUGs: there are several R User Groups in Latin America, some of which are officially sponsored by the R Consortium. We believe that creating a welcoming space is crucial for keeping the ideas flowing, which allows for meaningful networking and, consequently, the development of new projects. We can help you start your own group!
  • R4DS in Spanish + datos package: 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 community-translated to Spanish the “R for Data Science” book and developed a package with the translation of all the datasets used in it: datos. The workflow to contribute to the package was designed to engage first-time contributors, and is now guiding the development of a new version in Portuguese that will be released in the next few months.
  • #DatosDeMiércoles + #30díasdegráficos: The @R4DS_es Twitter account was created as a way to share projects like the R4DS translation and to developed initiatives to foster the Spanish-speaking R community,  like #datosdemieRcoles, the Latin American cousin of #TidyTuesday. The idea is not only to use datasets that are in Spanish, but also datasets that are relevant for our Region. This initiative has been complemented with the 30 days plot challenge #30díasdegráficos. If you want to participate proposing a dataset for #datodemiéRcoles, please visit our github repo.
  • The Carpentries: 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 initiatives: lesson translations, instructor training, workshop coordination, and fundraising. Get in touch with us through the mailing list and the carpentries-es channel at the Carpentries Slack workspace.
  • ReproHack: 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. We are planning the first ReproHack in Spanish for October 2020 and you can get in touch with us through Twitter.
  • AI Inclusive: 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. In December 2019, we had our launch events in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and San Francisco, California. Follow us and join us!
  • Data Latam: 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. Today Data Latam is a Latin American community of professionals and academics, who apply data science in their day to day work and we invite you to participate!

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. 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.

These initiatives are sustained by many people making a great, mostly volunteer, effort behind the scenes. Some of the challenges that the communities face are translated into multiple positives, sustained, and a lot of invisible hard work. Some of them are: finding international funding due to limited local options, translating content, joining forces across organizations, organizing regional conferences, and becoming active developers of the technology.

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; acquiring funding to sustain translations; amplifying the voices of regional minorities; importing educational material and work opportunities; connecting expats with their local communities; helping other groups such as RUGs and RLadies; connecting with other initiatives such as R-Forwards, Africa-R, MiR, among others; Increase our and other minorities representation in the R Core Team, the R Foundation, and the R Consortium.

Thank you! Please watch our useR! 2020 video on YouTube.

Hosting a Virtual useR Meetup

By Blog

By Rachael Dempsey, Senior Enterprise Advocate at RStudio / Greater Boston useR Organizer

Last month, the Boston useR Group held our very first virtual meetup and opened this up to anyone that was interested in joining. While I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, I was so happy with the turnout and reminded again of just how great the R community is. Everyone was so friendly and appreciative of the opportunity to meet together during this time. It was awesome to see that people joined from all over the world – not just from the Boston area. We had attendees from the Netherlands, Spain, Mexico, Chile, Canada, Ireland, and I’m sure many other places!

Our event was a virtual TidyTuesday Meetup held over Zoom, which can hold up to 100 people without having to purchase the large meeting add-on. (If you’re worried about the number of people being over this, keep in mind that often half the people that register will attend.)

This was our agenda:

  • 5:30: Introductions to useR Meetup & TidyTuesday (Rachael Dempsey & Tom Mock)
  • 5:35: Presentation #1 – Meghan Hall: “Good to Great: Making Custom Themes in ggplot2”
  • 5:50: Presentation #2 – Kevin Kent: “The science of (data science) teaching and learning”
  • 6:00: Introduction to R for Data Science Slack Channel – Jon Harmon
  • 6:05: Breakout into groups to work on TidyTuesday dataset – groups will be open for two-hours but you can come and go as you want!
  • 7:30: Come back together to the Main Room for an opportunity to see a few of the examples that people would like to share

If you’re thinking of keeping your monthly event and want to host it virtually, I’ve included a few tips below:

Find someone (or multiple people) to co-host with you!

Thank you, Kevin Kent and Asmae Toumi! Kevin, a member of the Boston useR Group was originally going to be the lead for our in-person TidyTuesday meetup and posted about the meetup on Twitter, where we both met our other co-host, Asmae Toumi. Asmae then introduced us to one of our presenters, Meghan Hall. Having co-hosts not only made me feel more comfortable, but gave me a chance to bounce ideas off of someone and made it much easier to market the event to different groups of people. While I often share events on LinkedIn, Kevin and Asmae have a much bigger presence on Twitter. Aside from your own meetup group and social media, another helpful place to find potential co-hosts may be on the events thread of Instead of co-hosting, you could also just ask people if they would be willing to volunteer to help at the meetup. Thank you to Carl Howe, Jon Harmon, Josiah Parry, Meghan Hall, Priyanka Gagneja, and Tom Mock for your support. If I can help you with finding volunteers, please don’t hesitate to reach out on LinkedIn.

Have a practice session on Zoom!

The day before the event we held a practice session on Zoom to work out a few of the kinks. As we were hosting a TidyTuesday meetup, we wanted to be able to meet in smaller groups too, as we would if we were in-person. I had never used Zoom breakout rooms before and wanted to test this out first. After the initial presentations, we broke out into 7 smaller groups. These groups worked well to help facilitate conversation among attendees. During the test, we confirmed that you can move people from different breakout groups if needed. This was helpful for keeping the groups even as some attendees had to leave before the end of the event.

Have a Slack Channel or a way for people to chat if they have questions

During the meetup, we used the R for Data Science Online Learning Community Slack Channel as a venue to ask questions and share examples of what people were working on. You can join this Slack channel by going to We used the channel, #chat-tidytuesday which you can find by using the search bar within Slack.

Accept that it won’t be perfect

You can practice and plan how you want things to go, but I think it’s helpful to recognize that this is the first time doing this and it’s okay if things aren’t perfect. For example, we were going to create separate breakout groups based on people’s interests and have everyone use a Google doc to indicate this at the start. While it was good in theory, we determined this would be a bit too hard to manage and complicate things so I just automatically split people up into the 7 different groups. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked!

Think about Zoom best practices

This came up in discussion during our practice call and I think we’ve all seen recently that there can be a few bad-actors out there trying to ruin open meetings. @alexlmiller shared a few tips on Twitter that I’d like to cross post here as well.

You can start with the Main Settings on your Zoom account and do the following:

1) Disable “Join Before Host”

2) Give yourself some moderation help by enabling “Co-Host” – this lets you assign the same host controls to another person in the call

3) Change “Screen sharing” to “Host Only”

4) Disable “File Transfer”

5) Disable “Allow Removed Participants to Rejoin”

And also to make the overall experience a little nicer:

1) Disable “Play sounds when participants join or leave”

2) Enable “Mute participants upon entry”

3) Turn on “Host Video” and “Participants Vide” (if you want that)

One more thing, if you want to split meeting participants into separate, smaller rooms you have to enable “Breakout Rooms”.

Market your event on social media

Once your event is posted to meetup, share it with others through multiple channels. Maybe that’s a mix of your internal Slack channel, Twitter, your LinkedIn page and/or the “R Project Group” on LinkedIn …or wherever you prefer to connect with people online. Keep in mind that this could be a different audience than your usual meetups because it’s now accessible to people all over the world. Ask a few people to share your post as well so that you can leverage their network as well. 

Have fun!

Reflecting back on our meetup, some of us found that with the use of Zoom breakout groups and a Slack channel our event was surprisingly more interactive than our actual in-person meetups. It was also an awesome opportunity to do something social and get together with others from the community during this crazy time. If you have any tips from your own experiences, please let me know and don’t hesitate to reach out if I can assist in any way. Hope this helps!