GitHub for Researchers

Researchers often rely on custom scripts for data collection and statistical analysis but managing or collaborating on these scripts can be difficult. Git/GitHub are free version control tools that allow collaborators to view line-by-line changes to code, add comments, or even revert a code base back to a previous version if something goes wrong. Using version control software can even help the lone researcher manage their project, keeping them from having to remember the difference between “Analysis_FINAL.m” or “Analysis_FINAL_FINAL.m”.

At the 2020 American Society of Biomechanics Conference, I led a tutorial introducing Git and GitHub as version control tools for researchers. Gary Bruening, Ross Wilkinson, Steve Kasica, and I designed an interactive tutorial where attendees learned the basic concepts of version control with Git and practiced collaborating on a coding project in small groups via GitHub. The tutorial has example scripts that can be run in either MATLAB, Python, and R. Sixty attendees registered for the event, but with hundreds on the waitlist, we recorded the talk and provided the following resources that can be used in conjunction with the embedded recording to walk through the tutorial on your own or with a small group:

If you have any questions or just want to chat about version control, reach out via email or Twitter! Thanks to the American Society of Biomechanics for letting me host this tutorial and everyone who made it possible, either contributing to the months of preparation or the day-of execution.