Writing

Productivity in the context of academic research is an unusual phenomenon. While elements like data entry may have a pretty direct and straightforward relationship between effort and outcomes, coming up with new ideas and writing can both involve a lot of unpredictability and spontaneity. Academic productivity is also social, or at least networked. The extent […]

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Today was the end of term party in the political science department. I showed up in a suit in part to convey to any of my committee members present that I am focused on getting the dissertation done. * I have promised my supervisor two big packages of work. First — The output from the […]

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Watching the Jeremy Brett adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes story “The Golden Pince Nez” left me wondering about some of the specific changes made between the story and the ITV Granada TV series, specifically the role of Holmes’ brother Mycroft. An idle Google search about the substitution of snuff for tobacco ash in the story […]

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I have written before about the cognitive and emotional (and insomniac) downsides of checking the news too often. It seems worth re-emphasizing how twitter is a worst-case scenario in this regard, at least for people more interested in developments in matters of public interest than developments in the lives of friends and acquaintances, where facebook […]

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Kate Neville and Matthew Hoffmann, two of U of T’s most climate-focused political scientists, have a piece online: So, it’s all just too late, right? Studying climate politics in a time of despair. It’s a good piece, especially on the necessity for and challenges of “real-time research”. When I was still focused on pipelines, I […]

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I find reading about and studying catastrophic accidents to the extremely calming. First, I love the precision of the investigations into them and the determination to get as confident as possible an understanding of what failed. In the case of well-functioning regulatory systems, like the global commercial aviation industry, those findings are immediately applied to […]

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De-anonymization is an important topic for anyone working with sensitive data, whether in the context of academic research, IT system design, or otherwise. I remember a talk during a Massey Grand Rounds panel where a medical researcher explained how she could pick herself out from an ‘anonymous’ database of Ontarians, on the basis that her […]

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These are double spaced Word pages with placeholder footnotes. None of it has been edited yet, but I expect that most of what’s in these six chapter drafts will be usable for the final dissertation.

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One of my main strategies for organizing information is to create databases for subjects of interest. I’m using the term in the broad Wikipedia sense of “an organized collection of data, stored and accessed electronically” here, and it includes everything from a single folder where PDF versions of all the references cited in a particular […]

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I spent much of today’s boot camp doing research online about Canadian university divestment campaigns and trying to contact people who have been involved. Even though all the campaigns have happened since 2012, there’s a lot that has clearly already disappeared from the internet, though some of the websites established by campaigns remain in the […]

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