Plastic litter in the UK – any solutions?

Empty plastic bottles on the streets and plastic litter debris in the wider environment are an unfortunate persistent problem of our days. While much is done in the UK to tackle plastic litter through household waste collection and recycling, and special waste collection programmes for businesses, plastic litter is still an issue. In the UK,…

The Rise of Telemedicine

In a previous blog we discussed the pros and cons of remote working.[1] But what about being on the receiving end of a remote service, such as healthcare? Telemedicine is the remote provision of healthcare services using information and communication technologies such as telephone and video, diagnostic and monitoring equipment, and even robotics. It is…

Should We Change the Name of the Field of Statistics to “Data Science”?

Most fields of science have names that are neutral, being merely names. For example, the names “physics” and “biology” are neutral names for two large fields of science. In contrast, the name “statistics” is ambiguous. And, arguably, the ambiguity generates a negative perception of the field. So it is sensible to consider changing the name. The name “statistics” is ambiguous…

Does it still pay to be green on Britain’s roads?

What’s changed? On April 1st 2017, the UK government introduced changes to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). VED has undergone several evolutions in recent years. In 2001, VED was reformed to reflect CO2 emissions rates per kilometre, with 13 bands of increasing CO2 emissions incurring increasing VED costs. The scheme was further reformed in 2013, to…

E-commerce Parcel Delivery: Problems and Possible Solutions

Online shopping and parcel delivery The quality of parcel delivery has become extremely important as more and more people shop online. In the UK, 3 in every 4 adults made an online purchase in 2016, receiving in total over 1 billion parcels. By 2018, the e-commerce market is expected to grow by about one third,…

Election Campaign & Statistics

Don’t abuse stats during election campaign, UK Statistics Authority chair tells party leaders The chairman of the UK Statistics Authority has written to the leaders of the main political parties to urge them not to misrepresent statistics in the run-up to the general election on 8 JUne. In his letter, dated 24 April, David Norgrove…

Why work from home

The overall number of people working from home in the UK has been increasing in the past years reaching 13.9% of all people in work – a record number since comparable records began in 1998.[1] There are sectors – such as agriculture or construction – which by their very nature are located outside an office,…

Women in Statistics: Start counting

Are there any women here? asked the High Priest at the stoning in The Life of Brian. Of course, there weren’t any, only bearded men with deep voices. Are there any women where you work? Do they have to pretend to be men to be included? Do they have to laugh at the sexist jokes…

When story-telling is censorship: How independent is your research?

“Into the woods you have to grope, but that’s the way you learn to cope. “Into the woods to find there’s hope of getting through the journey.” So sing the Baker, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack (of the beanstalk fame) in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Sondheim himself was caught up in a…

The job description-reality gap

We left our heroes, Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak, trying to get a good price for their sheep at careers fair. This week’s analogy is another market, the oriental bazaar stall that is the job description. You can browse without any commitment and see if something takes your fancy, though you may be hassled by…

Conference utility-maximisation

This next slide shows the two research questions I sought to answer in my PhD. Students scored on average 4.26, which is between 4 and 5. What’s really interesting about this chart is that… I have copies of the full report here if anyone would like one. No? Please take one! I don’t want to…

That’s just so meta: Data about data

“Sir, I think you should see this.” Imagine an 18th Century sorting office, musty and dusty with leather-bound ledgers in which were meticulously scratched with quill and ink the dates, senders, and receivers of letters. Mr Braithwaite has discerned a pattern in the correspondence of Ms Catherine Mossday. Today, she wrote to her dressmaker, a…

New year, new job

Our new year’s resolution is to help you get a job and, unlike normal resolutions, it’s not one we’ll be giving up on after a week of failed attempts to get up at 6.00am to go to the gym. For us, it starts with writing this post. For you, the first step is to decide…

Measure for Measure: Five steps to validity bliss

Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure; Like doth quit like, and Measure still for Measure (Shakespeare, 1623). There are those who would have you believe that Shakespeare was writing about justice and morality and how everyone gets what they deserve in the end. But what if Shakespeare was really trying to teach us…

Studies show we should cancel Christmas

Dreaming of a white Christmas, are you? Buying presents for loved ones, eh? Office Christmas party? Wrote a letter to Santa that ended with the words “and a surprise”? Anticipation building with every Christmas card you write? It might be time to think again. Most coverage of the mid-winter festival is overly emotional and sentimental…

Revealed: The secret life of the perfect statistical analyst for you

• You won’t believe how young she was when she learned long division • More letters after her name than you’ve had hot dinners • Check out the MOOCs on him! • SAS, SPSS, and Stata: everything you need to be pooled t-test-ready this summer • Sources: “He’s the Madonna of data analysts” This post…

Data Scientist, Data Miner, Statistician or all of the above?

It was not so long ago that Steve Lohr quoted economist Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google at the time, as saying  “ that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be statisticians.” Lohr spoke of a “new breed of statisticians (…) that use powerful computers and sophisticated mathematical models to hunt for…

The power heuristic: When is a billion not a billion?

‘One’, ‘two’, ‘many’, or ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘two-and-one’, ‘two-and-two’, ‘two-and-two-and-one’. Learning to count is a doddle in cultures that use a base-2 counting system where knowing that there are simply lots of something is usually enough. Anthropologists marvel at their primitive abilities which compare unfavourably to higher primates and even some species of birds but most…

The necessity of teamwork

The task is simple: take a pile of car tyres, pieces of wood, and bits of string, build a 50cm platform on which you can stand, and do it quicker than everyone else. The trick is that none of the piles is intended to be sufficient so that, sooner or later, some great leader will…

With Big Data comes Big Responsibility

The citizens of the European Union have just elected 751 MEPs to the European Parliament. Across 28 countries, some 500 million citizens voted by secret ballot for public representatives. A small number of people chose to disregard the secrecy of the ballot and posted election selfies on Twitter and Facebook which showed their ballot paper;…