Hack Week Brings Opportunities for Collaboration and Teamwork

Big Data

Hack Week is a week for teamwork and collaboration of web developers and big data analysts. / Photo by: Lucky Business via Shutterstock


A recent post on futurity.org highlighted a new interactive workshop has been made available to teach researchers at different stages of their respective careers about data science through teamwork.

Science has been rapidly growing in the past few years and has become a big-data endeavor due to its need to store enormous amounts of data and information. Scientists may not yet be adept in this new field of “data science” that calls for a specific skill of being able to handle, sort, and analyze big data. This shortage of highly trained individuals can stall research and further developments in medicine and different industries.

This new workshop called “hack week” combines elements from the traditional lecture-style format and that of participant-driven projects. The latest one held in July focused on neuroscience and related subjects.

As shown in recent reports, participants viewed hack week as a way to learn about new concepts, to establish new connections with others, to share data more efficiently, and to develop the necessary skills to handle their day-to-day research work more effectively.

Daniela Huppenkothen, the associate director of the DIRAC Institute at the University of Washington, stated, “The idea behind hack week was to bring together people who were interested in data science and give them a place to meet, talk, and exchange ideas, but instead of a traditional format with experts lecturing non-experts, this would allow participants to mingle more and teach one another.”

All of the hack week events have the same template and overall organizing principles. The workshop usually begins with some structured time for instruction, followed by participant-driven, more open-ended projects, as well as accompanying peer networking and discussion.

The many projects can then resemble something like a hackathon, but with a greater focus on teamwork and learning rather than getting the specific results. The people of hack week tackle their respective projects in smaller groups, with the designated organizers going around and observing, providing feedback and encouragement.

Ariel Rokem, a data scientist with the eScience Institute and co-organizer of the recent Neurohackademy, said, “One of our goals with the hack week format is to elevate the quality of science being done; the best way to do that is to try out ideas and share what you’ve learned.”