So, you have changes to code that the world would be better off having. Great! This checklist describes how to make sure that your pull request (PR) sails through the review process.

Why care?

Developing and maintaining open source software is a lot of work. Ralf Gommers has a blog post on this topic. Part of the “cost” of each open source contribution is that someone has to review each change, which is often time consuming.

Following the checklist below for your PR (prior to submitting it or requesting a review) will make life easier for you as the author and for anyone reviewing your code by reducing the amount of modifications that are necessary to merge your PR. This will also likely help your PR get merged faster so you can move on to other things.

The checklist

Note: the guidelines below were written explicitly for our package graspologic. Every project will have its own policies and practices that may be slightly different from what you see here - for instance, the location where documentation files are located may vary, or the project may use some service other than Netlify for hosting documentation, or they may have slightly different style conventions, etc. Most repos will have a contribution guideline that should get you up to speed on these things.

Before requesting a review on your pull request, make sure that:

PR itself (on GitHub)

  • PR has a descriptive and succinct title.
  • PR has a brief description of what was changed.
  • PR is addressing a change that has already been brought up in an issue. This will ensure that the change you propose is desired by the maintainers, and may provide a chance to discuss implementation details prior to PRing which will save everyone time.
  • PR cites any related issues in the PR description and uses closing keywords for any issues that should be closed as a result of the PR.
  • PR does not have any extraneous file changes associated with it. One common example of an extraneous change is one that was already made in the target branch, but is showing up as part of this PR under Files changed.
  • PR does not have any unresolved merge conflicts.
  • If implementing a major new feature or algorithm, a notebook demonstrating the proof of effectiveness is linked in the PR description. Depending on the feature, this kind of validation may take too long to run as a test or in a tutorial notebook.


  • Code follows Python variable naming conventions, one description is here. Most variables should be snake_case and classes shoud be defined as UpperCamelCase, for example.
  • Code uses descriptive variable names throughout.
  • Code has no commented out “junk code.”
  • Line lengths are short (recommended <88 chars). This includes docstrings. Note: black tries to shorten line lengths but sometimes it is unable to do so automatically, especially for docstrings.


  • Any new public classes/functions have docstrings.
  • Any new public classes/functions have been added to the appropriate .rst file here to be rendered by Sphinx.
  • Any major new features (like a new algorithm) are accompanied by a succinct tutorial notebook. Or, if it is agreed upon with the maintainers that this is out of scope for the current PR, a new issue has been created specifying that we need a tutorial notebook for this functionality.
  • Any new tutorial notebooks have been added to the appropriate folder here and included in the .rst file here to be rendered by Sphinx.
  • Modifications to the documentation render appropriately in the Netlify build.


  • New public classes/functions are tested to ensure they achieve the desired output.
  • New public classes/functions are tested to ensure proper errors are thrown when invalid inputs are passed.


Thanks to Adam Li and Ariel Rokem for feedback on an earlier version of this checklist (see Twitter).