Author Archive for sbriske

Cell phone data for research

The following conference was based on the use of cell phone data for research – mostly involving mobility, but also group differences in work/residential location. Demographers are starting to use this data source. We link below to a paper in the social media session at PAA 2013.

Net Mobility Conference 2013

Conference Program (pdf)

Submissions to D4D challange (122 MB). This book contains copies of all the submissions to the D4D challenge that have been selected for NetMob. It is a large file (850 pages).

Winning Paper
African Bus Routes Redrawn Using Cell-Phone Data
David Talbot | MIT Technical Review
April 30,2013

Paper from PAA 2013 Social Media Session
New Approaches to Human Mobility: Using Mobile Phones for Demographic Research
John Palmer, et al.
April 11-13, 2013

Nature: Replication, replication, replication

This issue of Nature is a compilation of replication articles across several issues of Nature. They highlight the importance of replication and open data for science. However, some of the examples might apply more to medicine or biology than population science. Lest, readers think that this issue doesn’t apply to demographers, here’s a tweet from Justin Wolfers, advertising a piece in Bloomberg Business on the importance of replication for the field of economics. His motivation is the recent dust-up due to an error in a famous paper by Reinhart and Rogoff [See PSC-Info], but the discussion is much broader than that example.


[Link to Stevenson/Wolfers Replication article]

No research paper can ever be considered to be the final word, and the replication and corroboration of research results is key to the scientific process. In studying complex entities, especially animals and human beings, the complexity of the system and of the techniques can all too easily lead to results that seem robust in the lab, and valid to editors and referees of journals, but which do not stand the test of further studies. Nature has published a series of articles about the worrying extent to which research results have been found wanting in this respect. The editors of Nature and the Nature life sciences research journals have also taken substantive steps to put our own houses in order, in improving the transparency and robustness of what we publish. Journals, research laboratories and institutions and funders all have an interest in tackling issues of irreproducibility. We hope that the articles contained in this collection will help.

Reducing our irreproducibility
(April 25 , 2013)

Further confirmation needed
A new mechanism for independently replicating research findings is one of several changes required to improve the quality of the biomedical literature.
Nature Biotechnology 30, 806
(September 10, 2012)

Error Prone
Biologists must realize the pitfalls of work on massive amounts of data.
Nature 487, 406
(July 26, 2012)

Must Try Harder
Too many sloppy mistakes are creeping into scientific papers. Lab heads must look more rigorously at the data — and at themselves.
Nature 483, 509 x
(March 29, 2012)


Independent labs to verify high-profile papers
Monya Baker
Nature News
(August 14, 2012)

Power Failure: Why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience
Katherine S. Button, John P. A. Ioannidis et al.
Nature Reviews Neuroscience 14, 365-376
(April 15, 2013)

Replication studies: Bad copy
Ed Yong
Nature 485, 298-300
(May 17, 2012)

Reliability of ‘new drug target’ claims called into question
Asher Mullard
Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 10, 643-644
(September 2011)


If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing twice
Jonathan F. Russell
Nature 496, 7
(April 4, 2013)

Methods: Face up to false positives )
Daniel MacArthur
Nature 487, 427-429 \
(July 26, 2012)

Drug development: Raise standards for preclinical cancer research )
C. Glenn Begley & Lee M. Ellis
Nature 483, 531-533
(March 29, 2012

Believe it or not: how much can we rely on published data on potential drug targets? )
Florian Prinz, Thomas Schlange & Khusru Asadullah
Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 10, 712
(September 2011)

Tackling the widespread and critical impact of batch effects in high-throughput data
Jeffrey T. Leek, Robert B. Scharpf et al.
Nature Reviews Genetics 11, 733-739 )
(October 2010)


Research methods: know when your numbers are significant
David L. Vaux
Nature 492, 180-181
(December 13, 2012)

A call for transparent reporting to optimize the predictive value of preclinical research
Story C. Landis, Susan G. Amara et al.
Nature 490, 187-191
(October 11, 2012)

Next-generation sequencing data interpretation: enhancing reproducibility and accessibility
Anton Nekrutenko & James Taylor
Nature Reviews Genetics 13, 667-672
(September 2012)

The case for open computer programs
Darrel C. Ince, Leslie Hatton & John Graham-Cumming
Nature 482, 485-488
(February 23, 2012)

Reuse of public genome-wide gene expression data
ohan Rung & Alvis Brazma
Nature Reviews Genetics 14, 89-99
(February 2013)

Special Issue on Survey Non-response

Introduction: New Challenges to Social Measurement
Douglas S. Massey and Roger Tourangeau
Abstract | PDF

Facing the Nonresponse Challenge
Frauke Kreuter
Abstract | PDF

Explaining Rising Nonresponse Rates in Cross-Sectional Surveys
J. Michael Brick and Douglas Williams
Abtract | PDF

Response Rates in National Panel Surveys
Robert F. Schoeni, Frank Stafford, Katherine A. Mcgonagle, and Patricia Andreski
Abstract | PDF

Consequences of Survey Nonresponse
Andy Peytchev
Abstract | PDF

The Use and Effects of Incentives in Surveys
Eleanor Singer and CongYe
Abstract | PDF

Paradata for Nonresponse Adjustment
Kristen Olson
Abstract | PDF

Can Administrative Records Be Used to Reduce Nonresponse Bias?
John L. Czajka
Abstract | PDF

An Assessment of the Multi-level Integrated Database Approach
Tom W. Smith and Jibum Kim
Abstract | PDF

Where Do We Go from Here? Nonresponse and Social Measurement
Douglas S. Massey and Roger Tourangeau

Abstract | PDF

Peer review: Pros and Cons from RAND (Europe)

Alternatives to peer review in research project funding
Helen Wu, Sharif Ismail,Susan Guthrie,Steven Wooding | RAND Europe
May 2011

This document provides an overview of a number of the alternatives to peer review for assessing research funding applications. It is intended to be used as a tool by research funders, outlining some of the options available, with illustrative examples,
to help develop the most appropriate approach to funding allocation for their
specific research needs.

Executive Summary

Full report

The Structure of Borders in a Small World

C Thiemann, F Theis, D Grady, R Brune, D Brockmann | PlosOne
November 18, 2010

Territorial subdivisions and geographic borders are essential for understanding phenomena in sociology, political science, history, and economics. They influence the interregional flow of information and cross-border trade and affect the diffusion of innovation and technology.

Imagery showing effective subdivisions and borders in the United States based on bank note distributions

Connected States of America

The Connected State of America
The Connected States of America illustrates the emerging communities based on the social interactions through the use of anatomized mobile phone data.

CommonCensus Map Project: Revealing Communities of Interest
Information Aesthetics | July 19, 2011

The CommonCensus Map Project [] aims to ‘redraw’ the map of the United States based on the input of its citizens, in order to reveal the boundaries people ‘feel’, as opposed to the state and county boundaries drawn by politicians. It relies on the reports of over 60,591 people who volunteered to reveal the names of places with which they identify themselves the most, in addition to their favorite sports team.

Why States Matter
Urbanophile | July 18, 2011
Obviously states aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but a number of folks have suggested that state’s aren’t just obsolete, they are downright pernicious in their effects on local economies.

Are States an Anachronism?

Urbanophile | July 18, 2011

There are a lot of reasons why, despite their obvious flaws, states continue to play a crucial role in our nation. The first is that in a huge, multi-regional, multi-polar country like the United States, we can’t effectively govern the entire place from a single city on the east coast (with perhaps administrative subdivisions), nor would we want to.

Jurisdictions contesting the 2010 Census Count

Jurisdictions contesting the 2010 Census Count
HOPE YEN| Associated Press
June 29, 2011

With jobs and federal aid at stake, U.S. cities are lining up to contest their 2010 census counts as too low.

More on the Canadian Census Disaster

Census decision a slow-motion train wreck
Stephen Gordon | The Globe and Mail
July 13, 2011

The census story is a train wreck in slow motion; the latest car to pile on the flaming ruins is the recent report that Statistics Canada has resigned itself to accepting incomplete responses to the National Household Survey (NHS).

The following publication is referenced in the Globe and Mail (July 13) article.
The Importance of the Long Form Census to Canada
David A. Green and Kevin Milligan | Canadian Public Policy, Volume 36, No 3
September 2010

All voluntary Statistics Canada surveys come with a set of weights of this type that researchers need to use to obtain accurate statistics. But constructing those weights requires having a “true” population benchmark, and the census is that benchmark. Thus, without the census, both the stratification and weighting stages of all other surveys would be affected.

Statscan settles for incomplete long-form surveys in 2011 census
Jennifer Ditchburn | The Globe and Mail
July 6, 2011

“On the [short] census, we will follow up since the census is mandatory, so if we don’t have a minimum amount of information or there are inconsistencies, it is possible that we’ll call people to clarify the information that was provided,” said Marc Hamel, director general of the census management office.

“We don’t do that on the National Household Survey. We make the assumption … if they have omitted to complete one question or a section, we go on the assumption knowing that it’s a voluntary survey that they’ve omitted to complete that on purpose.”

Is census data usable? ‘Our thinking has evolved.’
Steven Chase and Tavia Grant | The Globe and Mail
February 14, 2011

Wayne Smith, who replaced Munir Sheikh as Canada’s chief statistician during the census controversy, gives an interview in his Ottawa office on Feb. 11, 2011. Snippets from the interview.

I guess the answer is it depends.

We’ve never done a survey on this scale, on a voluntary basis before.

So we’re in unexplored territory.

What happens is going to depend …

The only difference that’s different in 2011 for the National Household Survey is that the survey is voluntary and the sample is bigger.

Chief statistician asked to rethink census for 2016
Steven Chase and Tavia Grant | The Globe and Mail
February 11, 2011

The Harper government, which last year scrapped the mandatory long-form census on the grounds it was wrong to coerce Canadians into answering intrusive questions, has asked Statistics Canada to rethink the way it collects population data.

Chances are, however, he may be overseeing even bigger changes at Statistics Canada – not for the 2011 census, already under way – but for the next one, in 2016.

The Nagging Effect: Better Health for Married Men

The Nagging Effect: Better Health for Married Men
Tara Parker-Pope | New York Times
July 19, 2011

Relationship researchers have long known that marriage is associated with better health, particularly for men. One reason is that wives often take on the role of caregiver, setting up doctor appointments and reminding, even nagging, their husbands to go.

NARA Looks to Privatizing Access to 1940 Census

NARA looks to privatizing 1940 Census
Submitted by jajacobs | Free Government Info (FGI)
July 20, 2011

Early next year the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) can make the 1940 Census Schedules available to the public for the first time. (See “Background” below.) NARA has digitized these files and created metadata for them in preparation for making this valuable trove of information accessible on the web.