Peer review and reddit?

There’s a terrific interview this week on the Inquiring Minds podcast with Nate Allen, one of the lead moderators for the r/Science subreddit. Colleagues will be especially interested in their discussion of the r/Science AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) events they run which host sciences who have recently published results for an interactive, carefully moderated and pretty … Continue reading “Peer review and reddit?”

What use is GIS for the humanities and social sciences?

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post about my favourite GIS tool QGIS, geospatial software tends to be used in a rather narrow subset of academic research, i.e. mostly environmental scientists and geologists. The reasons for interest there are somewhat obvious, I think, but this is not as much the case for the humanities and social sciences. … Continue reading “What use is GIS for the humanities and social sciences?”

Teaching with Blogs

Between 2010-2012 I worked with two other colleagues in Divinity to integrate student writing with blogs into one of our courses. We were able to devote some focussed attention to the relative merits and demerits of using blogs in teaching thanks to some funding from the Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme here at the University of Edinburgh … Continue reading “Teaching with Blogs”

Get Geospatial with QGIS

One of my favourite new tools that I’ve added to my social scientific research into environmental activism and religion in Scotland over the past three years has been geospatial work or GIS (short for Geographic Information System). Scholarship in the sociology of religion often works with very large data sets (like censuses), but this work is very … Continue reading “Get Geospatial with QGIS”

The Command Line

I’ll often be working on my laptop when a colleague walks past, sees a command-line window open with lines scrolling and says something like, “well that looks scary!”. The producers of the matrix captured this sentiment well with their now classic screen image that shows indecipherable characters cascading down a screen. I think that one of … Continue reading “The Command Line”


Timelines are an amazingly useful tool. Because my work is so interdisciplinary, I’m always trying to situate my teaching on a particular text or subject within a historical context. Over the years I’ve found that the ability to bang out a quick timeline can really help as a handout for students or a visual for your … Continue reading “Timelines”

The Digital Ethnographer

Over the past three years, I’ve been moonlighting as a social scientist doing ethnographic fieldwork in communities across Scotland from Callander to Orkney. Before heading out for the first time, I spent a few weeks assembling a toolkit for digital ethnography which I’ve been revising along the way. I thought I’d share a bit about what … Continue reading “The Digital Ethnographer”

The Best Tool for Writing? Plain Text.

I wrote my undergraduate thesis (back when 30k words seemed like a big deal!) in Microsoft Word. No, I’m not one of those default Microsoft haters – one of the original developers of MS Word is a close friend of mine – it’s a decent product that was a superior option in the early days. However, … Continue reading “The Best Tool for Writing? Plain Text.”

Welcome to “Tools of the Trade”

I’ve always had an appreciation for tools. Because I grew up in Seattle in the 1980-90s, quite a lot of my tool-loving energy was spent playing in a digital space while listening to Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. I wrote my first BASIC code when I was 9, built a PC from harvested parts when I was 11, … Continue reading “Welcome to “Tools of the Trade””