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.
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.
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 gmail.com; 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.
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.
I recently attended a conference at Durham University’s School of Applied Social Science into ethics in community-based participatory research.
The day was really enlightening I learned a few things at the conference about ethics and carrying out such research with integrity.
First, I learned that sociologists can count well enough to construct the first ten or so numbers in the Fibonacci sequence.
The second thing I learned was that there are new ethical considerations that need to be taken in to account, as well as some important new dimensions of existing, or traditional, ethical issues in research.
It became necessary to conduct one of my interviews over the telephone, which presented a number of unique challenges, including how to record the interview, not having non-verbal cues and informed consent.
Ordinarily I would record my interviews on a Dictaphone with a microphone, which I then transfer to my computer and transcribe. With a telephone conversation, obviously that’s not possible. My solution was to borrow a Nokia mobile phone as this has a record option built into the software, just open the menu when you’re in a call and press ‘Record.