What is Open Science

Open science is the practice of making various elements of scientific research -- data & methods, code & software, and results & publications -- readily accessible to anyone. While this has great potential for advancing research (in addition to education, public policy, & commercial innovation) as a whole, there are both technical and social challenges preventing this practice from being more widespread. Social challenges stem largely from the dichotomy between what is best for an individual researcher and what is best for the community. Technical challenges arise largely from issues of scale: putting free print copies of DNA sequencing data in a box in front of your office doesn't scale as well as depositing those sequences on repositories like GenBANK.

Why does open science need tools?

Our goal is to provide open-source tools to help address both these challenges. These are interesting times. The technology to facilitate the access and utilization of this data has never been better, yet it is only beginning to be employed. The internet -- firmly in its second generation, the read-write Web 2.0 culture in which users generate content as readily as they consume it -- has led to the explosion of mechanisms for sharing. Yet these tools are not widely leveraged in scientific communities (Coombes et. al. 2007).

Why R for open science?

R is an open-source statistical environment that can be used for not only statistics, but also for data acquisition, data manipulation, modeling, among other uses. R is increasingly being used by scientists across all disciplines and has overtaken popular scientific programming tools. Part of the reason behind R's explosive growth is the ease with which the ever-growing userbase can add new functionality, a fact evidenced by 3,000+ currently available R packages. The R framework is ideal for open science because:

  • The software is free.
  • There is an extensive user community from which help is very quickly given, and
  • The scientific workflow can be documented for fully reproducible research.


Karthik Ram
rOpenSci Project Lead
Scott Chamberlain
rOpenSci Technical Lead
Stacey Dorton
administrative assistant and office Jedi
Jeroen Ooms
Software Engineer

Leadership team

Karthik Ram
Karthik is a quantitative ecologist at the Berkeley Initiative for Global Change Biology (BigCB) and a data science fellow at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS). He is broadly interested in the structure and dynamics of food webs in terrestrial systems and (very occasionally) blogs at Inundata.
Scott Chamberlain
Scott is at the Museum of Paleontology at UC Berkeley, interested in topics ranging from comparative phylogenetics to interaction networks. He blogs at Recology
Carl Boettiger
Carl is an assistant professor at UC Berkeley, working on forecasting critical transitions in ecosystems and detecting evolutionary shifts from comparative phylogenetic data.
Jenny Bryan
Jennifer Bryan is an Associate Professor in the Statistics Department and the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She's a biostatistician specialized in genomics and takes a special interest and delight in data analysis and statistical computing.
Rich FitzJohn
Rich FitzJohn is a research software engineer at Imperial College, London. He is interested in understanding causes and correlates of diversity across the tree of life, and tries to practice reproducible science.

Advisory Board

Hadley Wickham
Hadley is the chief scientist at RStudio. Hadley is also the author of numerous R visualization tools such as dplyr, devtools, httr, and ggplot2 among numerous others.
Mackenzie Smith
Mackenize is the university librarian for UC Davis and specializes in information technology and digital knowledge management. Mackenzie is also a former Creative Commons Fellow and digital librarian at MIT.
Duncan Temple Lang
Duncan is an Associate Professor at the Department of Statistics at the University of California, Davis. He is one of the developers of R.
Nico Cellinese
Nico is an Associate Curator of Botany and Informatics at the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, and Joint Associate Professor in the Department of Biology. Her research focuses on the evolution of flowering plants, biodiversity informatics & phyloinformatics.
Matt Jones
Matt is the director of Informatics Research and Development at National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. Matt leads the CyberInfrastructure team at DataONE.
JJ Allaire
JJ is an Internet technology entrepreneur and the creator of the web development tool ColdFusion. JJ now created and works on Rstudio, a web-based integrated development environment for R.

rOpenSci Alumnus

Ted Hart
Ted was a member of rOpenSci's core team (precursor to the leadership team) from fall 2012 to fall 2014. Ted is a quantitative ecologist and is currently a data scientist in private industry. However he still maintains an interest in open data and software development.