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R Users group National Biodiversity hack series

March 2016

ICOSS, University of Sheffield

219 Portobello, Sheffield S1 4DP

Repo for materials produced during the Sheffield R User group National Biodiversity Hack Series

Hackpad link:

Getting Started:

Don't forget to make a fork of this project on GitHub first!

Clone the project using RStudio and run the setup.R file. This will save your NBN credentials in the NBN_Details.R file (this is automatically ignored by Git to keep them private).

Run the Analysis.Rmd file in RStudio. This includes a basic analysis already to get you started.


  • Make sure your R and RStudio installations are up-to-date


The Sheffield R Users group is organising a series of local National Biodiversity Hacks throughout the month of March. The sessions will be hosted by the Sheffield Methods Institute and run from a great collaborative space located at the Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences [Map]

The overall philosophy of the hack series is: “no pressure, just learn and code for fun!”

Having said that, here are a few specific ways in which we believe participants will benefit:

What you can expect to get involved in:

Make use of open data

Data reserves are increasingly becoming openly available, with far reaching opportunity for a wide range of sectors. The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) is a great example of a network of organisations making significant effort and investment to capture, integrate and make freely available the enormous reserves of UK biodiversity data.

One way in which data is made available is through the NBN Gateway for which the recently developed rnbn package allows direct access through R. The hack will therefore provide an opportunity for participants to explore the NBN gateway resource and develop a better awareness of what data are available and how to access it.

Help local wildlife organisations

We've been in touch with the Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust and they could do with some help in their efforts to describe the state of Sheffield nature. They will be sending a representative to provide some guidance on ways we can help, from developing biodiversity indices, analysing temporal and spatial trends to producing monitoring dashboards. So the series will allow participants to contribute to real world solutions for the wider Sheffield community.

Develop your R skills

Hacks are great opportunities for peer to peer knowledge transfer and learning through doing. There really is no better way of gaining new skills than trying to implement them with direct access to people with expertise. Even if you are a complete beginner, hacks are a great place to start so we welcome participants of all levels and backgrounds.

Learn to collaborate openly and effectively

All work carried out during the series will be coordinated through online repositories and open to the world allowing remote participation. So at the very least, the hacks will provide opportunity to practice open collaborative working practices and using technologies like github, google hangouts, etherpad etc. We also envisage that the series will strengthen our local network and act as a springboard for future collaborations.


Hacks provide a fun and informal space to experiment and test out ideas without the pressure of necessarily having to deliver a viable output. This also allows us to explore a more diverse array of outputs such as interactive visualisations and web applications.

Hack series timetable:

Session Date Time
Kickoff Event* Tuesday 23 February 17:30
Session 1 Tuesday 1 March 16:30 onwards
Session 2 Tuesday 8 March 16:30 onwards
Final Session & Feedback Tuesday 15 March 16:30 onwards

*Kick off session will take place at the Red Deer Pub, 18 Pitt Street, Sheffield. S1 4DD

Free refreshments will also be provided.

Register here

Please note that you do not need to be available for all sessions. We do however encourage participants to try to attend as many as possible, and if they can't physically make it, to attempt to participate remotely.

for more information please contact:

@Sheffield_R_ | @NBNTrust | @WildSheffield | #RStats | #BiodiversityHack


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