What is a hackathon?
Advancing open research practices in communication is contingent upon sharing tools, ideas, skills, and data across a disparate collection of sub-fields. Although conferences and workshops are undoubtedly beneficial for pursuing these goals, they rarely afford the unstructured time and hands-on collaboration required to fully realize their potential for catalyzing open research practices. We believe that hackathons can serve as a viable means of improving collaboration and skill development within communication science.
During a hackathon, participants self-organize and work together to learn new skills and solve problems of their choosing while engaging in discussions about coding, big data ethics, and reproducible research practices. Hackathons provide a collaborative, low-risk opportunity to experiment with new ideas, find potential collaborators, and to try something a little “out of the box.” For this reason, hackathons are organized quite differently from a traditional preconference or conference session. Instead of audience members passively listening to a series of talks on a subject, they will actively participate in (and perhaps even organize!) projects of their choosing.
On the first day of the hackathon, organizers and attendees will propose a collection of projects that can be reasonably tackled during the hackathon. Everyone will select the project that they wish to work on, and will spend the rest of the time collaborating with their project team to accomplish their desired goals. At the same time, a collection of breakout sessions will serve as a more formal means of sharing knowledge and increasing skills. If you have an idea for a project or breakout session for the hackathon, please reach out to the organizing committee.
Hackathons do not require existing knowledge of computational skills. In fact, projects are often centered around learning and developing resources for beginners. We encourage everyone to participate, even (or especially!) if you have little to no coding knowledge.