“While we take care to identify our sources, we have not often published the data behind them. Sometimes, this is for good reason: some data are proprietary or otherwise not ours to publish. Often, we have simply not made the time to do it. This is a shame: releasing data can give our readers extra confidence in our work, and allows researchers and other journalists to check?—?and to build upon?—?our work. So we’re looking to change this, and publish more of our data on GitHub….”
We’ve written a fair amount about GitHub here at ProfHacker. To cite just a few examples, Lincoln described how to fork syllabi using GitHub, George outlined how to preserve your Twitter archive using GitHub Pages, and Konrad wrote a long series introducing the basics of GitHub in detail.
I resisted GitHub for a long time, against the advice of my fellow Profs. Hacker and other colleagues, but recently have moved toward using it to store code related to my teaching and my research, as well to host sites for classes and research projects. In the coming weeks I plan to write tutorials outlining precisely how I’ve been building class and project pages using RStudio or Jekyll paired with GitHub Pages, but first I wanted to recall those previous posts so that interested readers can set up their own GitHub accounts, which they will need to follow those tutorials.
In the meantime, however, I wanted to share exciting news I learned only very recently from a colleague. In his
Getting Started with GitHub post, Konrad noted,
GitHub accounts are free, and remain so as long as you allow your repositories be open source and available to the world. You only have to get a paid account if you wish to have private repositories protected from prying eyes.
This is generally true, but sometimes academics might want a private repository: for a class website in progress, perhaps, or for other materials—such as, in my case, a promotion dossier in progress—that would benefit from GitHub’s versioning but cannot be made publicly available.
Fortunately, however—and this is what I did not realize until just months ago—GitHub offers free individual and team accounts through their GitHub Education program. Students 13 years and older can apply for the Student Developer Pack, which gives access to specialized tools and unlimited private repositories. Educators and/or researchers can apply for a free individual Developer plan, which also offers unlimited private repositories, as well as for free Team plans for academic groups, such as a classroom or a research project team.
The process is simple. Visit the GitHub Education page, click
request a discount, log into your account, and fill out the form. You should use your institutional email account, if you have one, and you may have to upload a document demonstrating your affiliation. From there the GitHub Education team has to approve your request, which in my case took only a few hours.
I don’t have a huge need for private repositories, but it is nice to have the option, and has allowed me to benefit from GitHub on a few projects I wouldn’t have felt comfortable putting on GitHub otherwise. If you’re reading ProfHacker, there’s a good chance you’ll qualify for a free educational account as well.
Are you using GitHub for teaching and/or research, and if so did you know about GitHub Education? Tell us about how you’re using GitHub in the comments.
“An important part of OBP’s business model has been the ability to harness emerging digital technologies to bring down the publication costs associated with scholarly texts. In addition we have developed an extensive and cost effective distribution network for both digital and printed editions of our titles.
We now intend to reformat and update our software and processes for release as Open Source content, and make all the code freely available for others to adopt and adapt from our GitHub account. As we will be using and maintaining this code for our own operations, on completion we will be in a position to provide a complete, modular, managed, Open Source book publishing and distribution platform for others to freely adopt as they wish.”
“[T]he academic paper has some inherent limitations—chief among them that it can provide only a summary of a given research project. Even an outstanding paper cannot provide direct access to all of the research data collected or to the record of discussions among scientists that is reflected in lab notes. These windows into the messy and halting process of science, which can be extremely valuable learning objects, are not yet part of the official record of a research study.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we take advantage of the unique capabilities of the web to tell the full story of a research project—rather than merely using it as a faster printing press as we do today—we can build greater transparency into our approach to reporting science. Besides improving information-sharing among scientists, a push toward transparency could improve public trust in science and scientists. Now, when the very concepts of fact and truth under assault and many scientists feel compelled to march in response, is the perfect time to rethink our approach to scientific communication altogether….”
“Among those researchers that do archive and share data, GitHub is indeed the most often used, but just as many people indicate using ‘others’ (i.e. tools not mentioned as one of the preselected options). Figshare comes in third, followed by Bitbucket, Dryad, Dataverse, Zenodo and Pangaea (Figure 3)….Another surprising finding is the overall low use of Zenodo – a CERN-hosted repository that is the recommended archiving and sharing solution for data from EU-projects and -institutions. The fact that Zenodo is a data-sharing platform that is available to anyone (thus not just for EU project data) might not be widely known yet….”
“Along with a few friends, we’ve written code to support peer review as a service. It assumes that some group of people (think editors or academic community) want to make comments on a thing (think paper). All you need is a URL for the thing – we think that GitHub repositories offer lots of nice advantages but it could be a dropbox link, or an arXiv paper or anything. Comments are just a list of issues on the paper or on specific parts of it; they are opened by a reviewer and then resolved by the reviewer after dialogue with the author, authors or editors. Once (enough) issues are resolved, your paper is ‘accepted’ and the service will proclaim the news to anything listening.1
That’s all you actually need to start your own publishing revolution. To give you an idea of how this might work, imagine building a new journal. Let’s call it the Open Journal of Astrophysics….”