Author Archives: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

overheard

“The single most important piece of advice for the one-on-one meetings you have during a job interview is to LISTEN.”

academic name changes

OW’s post about her problems from not changing her name reminds me of a question that came up last week in Bloomington over lunch. The question concerns women scientists — well, let’s start out by restricting attention to women sociologists — who are placed in tenure-line academic jobs. Some women have publication records in which they publish under one surname, and then later on–say, no earlier than after completion of their PhD–switch and publish under an entirely different surname. Leave the matter of name hyphenation out of this: I’m talking about case where if my CV went from publications as “Jeremy Freese” to publications as, say, “Jeremy McDonald”.

The question: when this happens, how much of the time is it because the woman has gotten married, and how much of the time is it because the woman has gotten divorced? This is in principle an empicial question that has an answer, but I don’t know what the answer is, so I invite your speculation. (Or, if this actually a question with a known answer out there somewhere and somebody wants to offer that, all the better.)

transparency as a matter of research ethics

Apparently APSA has actually made a step toward open science as part of their ethical guidelines. According to a recent paper in Science:

The American Political Science Association in 2012 adopted guidelines that made it an ethical obligation for researchers to “facilitate the evaluation of their evidence-based knowledge claims through data access, production transparency, and analytic transparency.”

My understanding is that the ASA ethical guidelines are still stuck on the idea that people should get around to sharing data after they’ve finished all the articles they might want to write from a paper, which as a practical matter often means “never.”

Any plans afoot to modify the ASA code of ethics?

step #1: repeat

I was re-reading Feynman’s essay on “Cargo-Cult Science,” largely to look at the context of the marvelous quote “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool.” But farther on I saw this part about repeating experiments: Continue reading

two headlines

1. Harvard photographed classrooms during classes in order to study attendance.
2. Jeremy does not understand why this is a big deal.

ADDENDUM: Quote at end of story:

“We know there are hundreds of cameras* all over Harvard, and we accept that they’re there for protection and safety and security,” Burgard said. “But the idea that photographs will be taken of a class in progress without having informed the students, much less the professor, is something very different. That is surveillance.”

* The cameras in question, which are doing something different than surveillance, are often called “surveillance cameras.”

active citation

Over the weekend I was at a workshop on journal practices convened by the editor-in-chief of Science and sponsored by the Center for Open Science in Virginia.* The larger cause of Open Science is seeking for greater transparency in research practice, something which anybody who knows me knows I think is badly needed. One idea that was raised at the meeting that I had never heard of before was “active citation.” Active citation is not about transparency in research practice, but greater accountability for our use of the work of others in making the arguments of a paper.

The basic premise of active citation is that when you cite a source, you need to indicate how it is that the source says what you say it says. Continue reading

the hociological imagination

A story about sociology’s past from Ralph Turner’s son [HT: Brayden]:

At the San Francisco Hilton in 1969, as Ralph stepped forward for his ASA presidential address, the crowning moment of a storied career, an energetic group of radical sociologists streamed down the aisles and took the stage. They announced that Ho Chi Minh had died that day and instead of listening to mainstream sociology we would have a memorial for Ho! Ralph handled the crisis with surprising grace: tipped off in advance, he had booked another ballroom. Thus Ho Chi Minh in one room, Ralph Turner in another.

overheard

“I sense a lot of good intentions around the room on these issues. That said, I would like to remind everyone how the road to hell is paved.”

what do drug tests actually measure?

Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle’s The Secret Race is a very detailed account of Hamilton’s (and, e.g., Lance Armstrong’s) doping during his bicycle racing career. Here’s one bit I found particularly interesting:

Journalists often used the term “arms race” to describe the relationship between the drug testers and the athletes, but that wasn’t quite right, because it implied that the testers had a chance of winning. For us, it wasn’t like a race at all. It was more like a big game of hide-and-seek played in a forest that has lots of good places to hide, and lots of rules that favor the hiders. So here’s how we beat the testers:

• Tip 1: Wear a watch.

• Tip 2: Keep your cell phone handy.

• Tip 3: Know your glowtime: how long you’ll test positive after you take the substance.

What you’ll notice is that none of these things are particularly difficult to do. That’s because the tests were very easy to beat. In fact, they weren’t drug tests. They were more like discipline tests, IQ tests. If you were careful and paid attention, you could dope and be 99 percent certain that you would not get caught.

(Note: Any analogies to academia, say for example for plagiarism detection or even for research fraud, are left as an exercise to the reader.)

another step forward for open science

The esteemed journal Nature has issued new guidelines about code availability. Includes:

Nature and the Nature journals have decided that, given the diversity of practices in the disciplines we cover, we cannot insist on sharing computer code in all cases. But we can go further than we have in the past, by at least indicating when code is available. Accordingly, our policy now mandates that when code is central to reaching a paper’s conclusions, we require a statement describing whether that code is available and setting out any restrictions on accessibility. Editors will insist on availability where they consider it appropriate: any practical issues preventing code sharing will be evaluated by the editors, who reserve the right to decline a paper if important code is unavailable. Moreover, we will provide a dedicated section in articles in which any information on computer code can be placed.

geeks at war!

ingressmap

Yesterday Eszter got me started playing Ingress, which to paraphrase this good introduction, is sort of like Foursquare meets geocaching meets a sci-fi version of the Cold War.  The map above shows the current battle between the two teams: the Resistance (blue) vs. the Enlightened (green).  Also, as you can see, the places where war is afoot versus those where it is not also provides a good proxy for global digital inequality.

(If you do check it out, might I suggest Team Green?  Sure, “resistance” might sound more plucky, but it’s really all about keeping the world the way it is, whereas enlightenment is about making the world better.  Or at least that’s the lofty rationale we’re using to try to get you to join our team.)

badges

Don’t these badges look nifty? You can display them girl-scout style at the top of your article if it fulfills various open science practices. Should quant sociology have something like this? (Nothing against my qual-pals, just harder to see how it would work.)

data disclosure checklist

Happened across the data disclosure checklist required by Management Science. So simple!

Indicate (e.g., by underlining) “Yes” or “No”:

Yes No - This manuscript includes analysis of data (e.g., field data, simulated data, experimental data, primary data, secondary data, public data, private data, etc.).

Yes No - If our manuscript is accepted we will provide the journal with our data so that it can be posted on the journal’s website. To promote additional research and to increase the credibility of a paper’s findings, data disclosure is encouraged but not required.

Yes No - A portion of our data cannot be disclosed due to a non-disclosure agreement or similar limitations on disclosure. If “Yes,” briefly explain which data cannot be disclosed and why:

For papers that report experimental data, please answer the following:

Yes No - We report how we determined our sample sizes, all data exclusions (if any), all manipulations (for experimental work), and all measures collected.

on sockpuppetry

Diederik Stapel, responsible for something like 50-some retracted articles due to academic fraud, was apparently commenting on stories about him on Retraction Watch using a pseudonym. I thought his reply was interesting:

I thought that in an internet environment where many people are writing about me (a real person) using nicknames it is okay to also write about me (a real person) using a nickname. I have learned that apparently that was —in this particular case— a misjudgment. I think did not dare to use my real name (and I still wonder why). I feel that when it concerns person-to-person communication, the “in vivo” format is to be preferred over and above a blog where some people use their real name and some do not. In the future, I will use my real name. I have learned that and I understand that I –for one– am not somebody who can use a nickname where others can.

ifcomp 2014

The 20th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition has begun, with 42 entries that pursue the unlikely premise of a prose-oriented videogame. Not sure I’ll actually get the chance to play any, but the preview blurbs are fun to read. I can’t decide if my favorite is:

Alec Baldwin gets what Alec Baldwin wants, and when he wants six gallons for a Milk Party, you better believe he’s getting six gallons. Includes 3 Endings.

Or:

Sigmund’s Quest is an homage to the classic point-and-click adventure games that inspired me so much as a child. It tells the first part of the story of the Völsunga saga, a Norse myth similar to King Arthur in some ways, albeit with more incest and werewolves.

Although probably the one that piqued my interest in terms of something I might check out was:

There is a house.
There is a room in the house.
There is a door in the room. The door is locked.
Some people are in the room.
Some people are transparent.

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