Drafting a governance structure for 2025 and beyond

We are working on defining a mission, vision, guiding principles, and a decision body for CodeRefinery in 2025 and beyond. This is an early draft.

April 19, 2024 - Radovan Bast and Richard Darst

Executive summary

CodeRefinery's NeIC sponshorship may be coming to an end, and the feeling is that partners want the collaboration to continue with some sort of structure. In short, we propose to organize as a community project with a steering group of interested partners that could take over CodeRefinery management on 2025-01-01:

  • CodeRefinery continues with roughly the same vision and mission as now:
    • We want to promote reproducible science by training and community.
    • We will continue giving courses like we have been doing (but with more possibility of new partners joining and custom teaching styles, including small local courses).
  • Board: a steering group of organizational partners and some community representatives.
    • The steering group will meet occasionally to discuss high-level matters and the broad direction.
    • The steering group can make agreements on behalf of CodeRefinery.
    • Updates the governance documents and accepts new organizational partners via majority vote.
  • Community managers: Coordinate the project on a day-to-day basis.
    • Appointed by the steering group (with consultation of the community).
    • Handle most of the day-to-day organizational activities (or delegate them).
    • Report to and work with the board.
  • Community:
    • Operated as an open-source project with an open community membership of individuals.
    • The board can work with organizational partners to define in-kind contributions and roles.
    • Recognized as decided by board/community managers.
  • We don't currently plan a separate legal entity just for CodeRefinery.

There are ideas on these matters is below, but there will be much more among the "founding board" as it works towards formally defining a collaboration agreement.

Mission, vision, and guiding principles (early draft)

(when thinking of these, think "what makes us different from others?")

Mission (what we do and why we do it¸ 2025):

  • CodeRefinery improves science and research by providing education in the tools of computational science to a diverse audience.
    • CR empowers XX by providing skills needed for achieving YY through providing training on practical skills.
  • Fill gaps between academia's lack of training in certain areas.
  • Preparing people and communities for high-performance computing and AI.
  • Foster a culture of FAIR, collaboration and openness in research software practices.

Vision (what we want to achieve):

  • We create a highly skilled academic community who can do better, more reproducible science.
  • Our core workshops are a regular recommendation for any students or researchers who does computational research.
  • We have a wide variety of other rotating workshops, organized by partners but with contribution by many.
  • When research projects need extra training, they think of us and our team.
  • Skilled trainers and build knowledge transfer and build competence.
  • Highly skilled researchers and staff.
  • Create a group of good trainers in partner institutes.
  • Bringing academia into digital age.
  • Equip society with tools for collaborative and reusable research.

Guiding principles (when a difficult decision needs to be made, we invoke the following guiding principles):

  • At our core, we are an open project and structure our working methods like one. Our outputs are openly licensed with distributed copyright.
  • We optimise for practical usability for those who lack skills in reproducible computational work. We don't try to replace career-oriented IT training.
  • Make people's lives easier (but we need to make this more tangible).
  • When in doubt, do what makes science/research/academics more reproducible.
  • Make it easier for people and organizations to participate.
  • Encourage collaboration when possible to do so.

Structure and responsibilities

Project governance 2016 - 2024

  • Initially: NeIC board
  • NeIC board transfers management to steering group via project directive
  • Project partners each appoint a steering group member
  • Steering group meets 2-3 times per year and makes big picture decisions
  • Day to day decisions by project manager in communication with steering group and project owner (NeIC)
  • Project manager reports to NeIC and project owner and steering group
  • Project manager is responsible for the project budget
  • Project manager tries to get support and consensus from the project team and community

Scope and responsibilities for future board

  • Strategic and organisational planning
  • Ensuring the effective implementation of community objectives
  • Financial oversight
  • Business plan and budget plan
  • Capacity plan
  • Fostering collaboration among members
  • Name, brand, and public image
  • Steering the lesson portfolio
  • Coordinate community initiatives
  • Manage accounts: Freshdesk, Twitter, Fosstodon, GitHub, domain name, HackMD, Indico, chat, mailing list, GitLab, YouTube
  • Manage the data and data sharing policies
  • Contact point
  • GitLab (maybe)
  • Intellectual property

Outline of the structure

  • Partners: the institutions that collaborate, and unaffiliated individuals.
  • Board: high-level strategy and help. Can be consulted on big decisions and for tricky trade-offs. Within mission statement, delegates all other decisions to community managers.
  • Community managers: Manage day-to-day work and connection with steering group. Build consensus among those doing the actual work for the day-to-day operations.
  • Community: does work


  • Initial board is one person per organization of the NeIC project.
  • Board decides its future composition, probably once a year.
  • Board confirms partner-level contributions.
  • Board confirms community managers (likely with the community's input) and delegates most daily operation to them.

Community managers

  • Coordinate most of the day-to-day work.
  • Are responsible to the board, but mainly lead the community in doing the work.
  • Ensure rough consensus and push things forward if it can't be done.
  • Can appoint (=recognize on the website) leads in different areas.


  • Community doe most of the work, and should be recognized as decided by the community managers and board.
  • This is a volunteer organization, no person has any requirement to do anything.
  • Members are expected to abide by our community standards of cooperation and respect.

Working methods

Code of conduct

We take our code of conduct as starting point but suggest to adapt it to the governance structure and decision making process.

Conflict resolution

Questions to be worked out:

  • What to do if there is conflict within leadership?
  • Conflict within community?
  • Conflict between leadership and community?
  • What if a collaboration partner becomes problematic? (mission, guiding principles, code of conduct)

Community meetings, communication, and reporting mechanisms

This needs to be worked out. Data sharing policy needs to be worked out.

Amendments to the governance document

Board can change based on majority vote.

Periodic review and evaluation

  • How often do we review the governance document?
  • How do we evaluate the success of the community and project?

Discussion points during the in-person meeting in February 2024

  • Mission, vision, guiding principles: what is missing?
  • Initial board composition? The NeIC project partners? What if they prefer not to or are inactive?
    • proportional to activity 2023-2024?
  • What if a board member leaves?
  • Can community elect a board member?
    • Should be able to, yes.
  • What decision necessitates board input?
    • Initially guiding principles (part of foundation document), in principle anything they haven't delegated to a community manager.
  • At which level of support should a partner be offered a board seat?
    • Board decides. Initial principle is "those with in-kind work".
  • "This is a volunteer organization, no person has any requirement to do anything." - this is currently not the case but maybe we want this to be the case?
    • I guess that's more for community, rather than paid staff. Paid staff do what their employer says.
  • Responsibilities for future board: what should be left out or added?
  • Who/what has ownership over intellectual property (IP)? Maybe case-by-case?
    • case: teaching material publicly available – CC-licence?
    • Transferring IP is probably very hard. Distributed IP is probably needed.
  • Independent non-profit organization
  • Find the carpentries cooperation model and propose them to be in the board
    • E.g. Science library of University of Oslo

Inspirations for this document


CodeRefinery is a project within the Nordic e-Infrastructure Collaboration (NeIC). NeIC is an organisational unit under NordForsk.


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