Good things can come from being open


When I discuss open and reproducible research with graduate students, their minds often drift toward all the bad things that could happen from having their code and data available. It is certainly true that bad things could happen, but my sense is that people often overestimate these kinds of risks and underestimate the benefits of being open. So, in this post I wanted to highlight an example of something good that can happen from being open with data and code: it can raise the visibility of your work and help make it more useful to others.

This fall I was teaching an undergraduate course on data analysis, and I was looking for a compelling, modern example of real research that involved dummy variables. Fortunately, Kevin Munger had done an interesting experiment on harassment on Twitter, and all of the data and code were available on github. So, I download his data and code, tweaked them a bit, and then built my lecture around his study. In case they are helpful to someone else, here are the slides (and here are the slides in R Markdown format).

I’ve never meet Kevin Munger, but I wanted to thank him for posting his data and code. It helped me, and it helped my students. This is just one small example of a good thing that can come from being more open.

Bit by Bit is now available for pre-order


I’m very happy to announce that Bit by Bit is now available for pre-order. If you order it right now, you should have it around Thanksgiving (November 23, 2017). Bit by Bit is for social scientists who want to do more data science, data scientists who want to do more social science, and anyone interested in the hybrid of these two fields.

Here are links where you can pre-order the book:
• Amazon:
• Barnes & Noble:
• IndieBound:
• Princeton University Press:

Also, at the end of this post is some information from my publisher about the book, including a 25% off coupon and information about how you can request an exam copy.

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meetup about teaching computational social science at ASA

Please join me for an informal meetup about teaching computational social science Monday, August 14 at 3pm.  We will meet at the Princeton University Press booth in the exhibit hall at ASA.  The purpose of the meetup is for people teaching computational social science—or thinking about teaching it—to share experiences and troubleshoot common problems.  The number and variety of courses on computational social science is growing rapidly, and I think that we can all benefit from hearing about the exciting things that people are doing.  I look forward to seeing you in Montreal.

Making sense of the rlnorm() function in R


Post by Malte Möser and Matthew Salganik

There’s an activity in Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age that requires generating random draws from a log-normal distribution.  Unfortunately, the rlnorm() function in R doesn’t work exactly how many people expect.  So, we wanted to write a little post about it.  That way, if you are working on the activity—which is about power analysis—you can focus on power analysis and not the rlnorm() function.

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Announcing the Open Review Toolkit

Originally post on Freedom to Tinker


I’m happy to announce the release of the Open Review Toolkit, open source software that enables you to convert your book manuscript into a website that can be used for Open Review. During the Open Review process everyone can read and annotate your manuscript, and you can collect valuable data to help launch your book. The goals of the Open Review process are better books, higher sales, and increased access to knowledge. In an earlier post, I described some of the helpful feedback that I’ve received during the Open Review of my book Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age.  Now, in this post I’ll describe more about the Open Review Toolkit—which has been generously supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation—and how you can use it for your book.

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Open Review leads to better books

Originally posted on Freedom to Tinker


My book manuscript, Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age, is now in Open Review. That means that while the book manuscript goes through traditional peer review, I also posted it online for a parallel Open Review. During the Open Review everyone—not just traditional peer reviewers—can read the manuscript and help make it better.


I think that the Open Review process will lead to better books, higher sales, and increased access to knowledge.  In this blog post, I’d like to describe the feedback that I’ve received during the first month of Open Review and what I’ve learned from the process.

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