Building the executive team of the Study Group

Yesterday, I organised a kick-start meeting to create a team of researchers that will lead the Study Group activities for the upcoming year.
With some experience and some further reading (see the other blog posts), I made a small agenda to convey the main information about the Study Group, its missions, values and what it takes to become a member.
I hope it helps others in organizing their own Study Group at their institution. Cheers!

Meeting agenda

In one sentence

Explicit the Study Group missions/values and build a core team of Study Group executive members.

In more details

  1. Describe the missions of the Study Group:
  2. Explicit the values, members responsibilities and last year experience of the Study Group
  3. Build the first “executive team” of motivated individuals that will pilot the Study Group during the academic year.
  4. Nominate one Study Group Leader for the first academic semester (September - December): explain what needs to be done.
  5. Plan the next meeting of the executive team: demonstrate the use of Slack + Google Calendar.

What is a Study Group? Why is it important?

A Study Group is a regular, in-person, informal meet-up where people get together to learn to code and to explore open research practice– strategies for maximizing the quality and impact of your research. Coding skills in particular are increasingly important in data-rich research environments, but many of us don’t have formal training in computer science… and the tools and technologies we need are all constantly changing.
Study Groups are peer-to-peer learning environments for skill-sharing, idea discovery, community support, and collaboration.

Study Group missions

  • improve code and software quality produced at SILS and IBED
  • build a community of (computational) biologists
  • support SILS/IBED members in scientific programming (bioinformatics, Python, statistics, data visualisation, etc.)
  • improve coding skills and career perspectives
  • stay updated in scientific field that moves forward rapidly e.g. bioinformatics.

Study Group values

  • Open Science: promoting easy free access to code, datasets and other developped tools. Open Science is simply good and robust science.
  • Collaboration: no one knows it all so collaborating is the key to make better science especially regarding data analysis.
  • Scientific quality and curiosity: as data-intensive science is moving at a fast pace, it is important to remain demanding and curious about new developments in one field whether that might be bioinformatic or statistics.
  • Gender balance: the community should be balanced as much as possible in terms of gender. More women were programmers 30 years ago than today. More info at Girl Develop It!
  • Democracy: the process of decision making should be as transparent and democratic as possible. Every member should have one voice and decisions should be reached by consensus as much as possible.
  • Respect: everyone willing to participate is welcome, independently of age, background and ethnicity as long as that person abides by the core value of the Study Group & Data Clinic community.
  • Empowering people through education and support: an important goal of the community is to enable people rather than do the work for them. Thus, training and support!

Find out more here:

Study Group membership


From last year experience, it seems reasonable that every member:

  • leads two sessions a year: can be a demo session, hands-on lesson, open discussion, invitation of an expert in the field to present/show his work in scientific programming (“expert in single-cell RNA-Seq for instance”).
  • and/or leads the Study Group for at semester: see roles of the Study Group leaders below:
  • and/or organize one special event a year: think about an afternoon on image analysis techniques, advanced Python programming, etc.

Roles of the Study Group members

  • Outreach and communications: publicize each of the group’s meetings and events.
  • Logistics and event coordination: as you organize group meetings and events;
  • Strategy and planning: as you create a schedule and plan for your group over a semester or year, and tweak that plan to respond to the needs of your group.
  • Teaching: as you prepare some of the materials and facilitate skill-sharing sessions for your group.
  • Community-building: as you find ways to invite new members in and expand your group.
  • Mentoring: as you create a group that leverages the skills and abilities of all members in co-teaching, co-facilitating, and co-organizing. – in other words, you get lots of help!

More info here:

What you members need to decide:

Appoint a Study Group leader for the first semester

Among you, nominate one SG leader that will make sure things get done and help to coordinate activities.

Explicit how decision will be reached

It is better to have explicitly decided how to make decisions. Various decision making processes are possible:

  • consensus: we discuss decisions until we come up to a consensus
  • majority: with a vote
  • leader: he/she makes decisions for the time that he/she is appointed.

Read the Code of Conduct

For now, the Code of Conduct is that of the Carpentries Foundation:
Please read it at least once so you can enforce it if broken during a session.

Subscribe to the Slack channel

Slack: check the scienceparkstudygroup group.

Propositions for next meeting’s agenda

  • List topics of interest for the first semester (October - December).
  • Who leads these sessions?
  • When is this meeting taking place?
  • Where is this meeting taking place?
  • Role assignment: think about possible roles that you’d like to take as a member (see above “Roles of the Study Group members”)
Written on September 4, 2018