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Data Literacy: The Carpentries' concept

The Carpentries teaches foundational code and data science skills to researchers and librarians worldwide

Development of The Carpentries.


The Carpentries is a non-profit organisation whose aim is to build global capacity in essential data and computational skills for conducting efficient, open, and reproducible research. The Carpentries offers three workshops: Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry and Library Carpentry. Instructors and helpers are volunteers and participants usually pay a symbolic fee for attending the workshop. The idea is to promote and model reproducible research as a community norm.

Data Literacy

Data literacy is the ability to read, edit, analyse and discuss data. It comprises various individual competences for collecting, adapting, changing, interpreting and presenting data. Data competence is the basis and an important skill of digitisation.

The work with data takes place in very different contexts, from the research and library area to the business sector context. Therefore, when talking about data literacy, there are a few things to keep in mind: the target audience, the area in which they carry out their activity, and their previous skills. In this way, it is possible to adapt the form of teaching (speed, terminology, etc.) to the target group.

Hands-on approach to data handling

One of the main characteristics of The Carpentries workshops is the use of live coding. That is to say, the instructors explain the contents at the same time that they type them. Thus, it is possible to react to mistakes and teach the participants who can "see how things are done".

What happens if a participant is unable to do one of the activities? He or she can use a sticky note to get the instructor's attention and help.

The structure of each of the workshops and the lessons available can be found in:

Further reading

The Carpentries Handbook., opens an external URL in a new window

Baker, J., Moore, C., Priego, E., Alegre, R., Cope, J., Price, L., Stephens, O., van Strien, D. and Wilson, G., 2016. Library Carpentry: software skills training for library professionals. LIBER Quarterly, 26(3), pp.141–162. DOI:, opens an external URL in a new window

Teal, T. K., Cranston, K. A., Lapp, H., White, E., Wilson, G., Ram, K., & Pawlik, A. (2015). Data Carpentry: Workshops to Increase Data Literacy for Researchers. International Journal of Digital Curation, 10(1), 135–143. DOI:, opens an external URL in a new window  

Wilson G. Software Carpentry: lessons learned [version 2; peer review: 3 approved]. F1000Research 2016, 3:62 (, opens an external URL in a new window)