townsendr interactive map

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This week I updated my Townsend Material Deprivation Score project. The update makes townsendr an interactive online map of deprivation that users can simply view in their browser, rather than having to download and run the R code or view only static maps. I think the result is much more intuitive and useful. Making the map interactive is achieved by using Shiny, a technology for R to make interactive charts and plots.

Formal informal testing of research code

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When writing research code I do test my code and results, but until recently I’ve only been doing this informally and not in any systematic way. I decided it was time to change my testing habits when I noticed I had recoded a variable incorrectly despite my informal tests suggesting nothing was wrong. When I went back and corrected this error this made a small, but noticeable, difference to my model.

Pidgin with Google Hangouts

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I’m old-fashioned and like a desktop client for online messaging so I use Pidgin on my Ubuntu machines. To install Pidgin: sudo apt-get install pidgin Then open the Pidgin client. Add an account and select XMPP protocol. Your username is the bit before the ‘@’ in your email address. Domain is the bit after the ‘@‘. If you’re using a personal Gmail account this will be; if you’re using a Google Apps email address (for example if your company use Gmail to handle it’s mail) it will be whatever’s after the @ in your email address.

Obtaining Date of Webpage


Sometimes webpages don’t provide a date for the material, which is a pain for writing bibliographic entries. To get the date the page was last modified, load the page, then copy the following in to the browser address bar and press enter: javascript:alert(document.lastModified) Source:

Don't Overcomplicate Data Entry for Your Respondent


One of the most basic tenets of good social or market research design – particularly surveys – is to make answering as easy as possible for your respondents. Each respondent only has a finite amount of willingness to complete your survey, and this is depleted more rapidly if entering their responses is difficult. Take the following example from a survey I received administered by an international customer insight group. Overall the survey was well-structured and relatively straightforward, if a little long.

How Social Research Methods Got Me My Jobs


Update: It’s been a year since this post and I’m updating it because I was asked back today (1 October 2014) to speak again about how social research methods got me my jobs and I wanted to reflect some additional advice I’d thought about since the last event. Last week (Friday 4 October) I gave a short talk to second year undergraduates in the Department of Sociology at the University of York.