Author Archives: normally distributed

Getting the message across: risk communication and Ebola virus

I’ll say from the outset that I know very little about infectious diseases, so don’t read this expecting any great clarity on that side of things. I do, however, know a bit about risk communication and perception (though I do not claim to be an expert). I know that people tend to over-estimate risks of […]

Selection bias and the perils of data science

According to the Guardian Data Blog, Obama is heading for electoral success, on the basis of a Twitter-based analysis. It’s all very nice to see mapped out, and the use of geocoding is cool (though possibly flawed), but underlying the approach is a massive potential for selection bias. The problem is quite simply this: if […]

MOOC points

Epidemiologista recently posted a really useful list of short stats and epi courses that might be of interest to PhD students looking to improve their skills and knowledge. As well as highlighting some excellent face to face options, the ‘online’ section features a number of providers of MOOCs. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, MOOCs […]

Write stuff

I recently went to a training session on academic writing. The faculty postgrad trainer is excellent, and I always come away having learnt something. But there’s one thing that bugs me: whatever the course is, she finds a way to slip in the advice that, as PhD students, we should be spending two hours writing […]

Science: it’s a people thing

My twitter feed exploded this morning in response to a new European Commission Campaign called “Science: it’s a girl thing“. Specifically the ‘teaser’ video (below). In summary, the tweeple are not impressed. My guess is that the video was put together by people who don’t actually know anything about science (open toed shoes in a […]

Is Raspberry Pi(e) good for health?

The much awaited Raspberry Pi computer finally went on sale earlier this year. In case you’ve not been keeping up with all things tech, the Raspberry Pi is as small as a credit card and priced at a mere £21.60 for the B model. Yes, a functioning computer that costs less than an external hard […]

Signs of progress

I’m nearly halfway through a PhD. Or at least, halfway through the period in which I receive financial reimbursement for my time. Hopefully the two are highly correlated. It seems appropriate to pause and reflect on the progress made. The PhD process is certainly not a linear one. The early days involve a lot of thrashing around in a […]

Conference report: Population Health Methods and Challenges 2012

Last week I set off for my first ever academic conference. The ‘first’ wasn’t just for me – this was the inaugural MRC Population Health Methods and Challenges conference, so newness all round. In the course of 48 hours, over 100 speakers imparted their insights into the methodological issues they grapple with, and the solutions […]

A matter of some urgency?

A while back I phoned up my GP surgery to make an appointment and was asked whether it was urgent. I replied in the negative and was given a slot 3 weeks later, which was fine. But it got me thinking about the subjectivity involved in answering that question. ‘Urgent’ means different things to different […]

What, will these data ne’er be clean?

I’ve had a bit of a blogging hiatus due to PhD commitments and winter hibernation, but hopefully now I’m back. One of the things I’ve been pre-occupied with lately is ‘data cleaning’ . If you know what that is, then you’ll be nodding sagely in understanding at my absence. If you don’t, let me enlighten […]