Workplace Culture research Publication

Peer-Review in the Workplace

I ran across this very interesting article about some peer-review processes used within the CRA and Statistics Canada: Peer Review: From academia to organizations. I particularly appreciated the author’s comments about the benefits to reviewers of being able to provide feedback anonymously. I find that in an open forum, whether in academia or government, our first instinct as authors is to defend our claims without changing the structure of our arguments. Would we experience this criticism differently if it was anonymous (and professional), even if our reviewers didn’t have the power to recommend the publication of our work?

As an aside, publication matters in government as well. Not so much because publication carries prestige but because it is a tangible example of an analyst’s productivity. In this context, the barrier to publication is not one round of anonymous reviewers but multiple rounds of review by senior management. I think that analysts might feel more confident in ‘sticking to their guns’ during a vertical approval process if their work had first undergone a formalized, horizontal review process. It is interesting to think about how disagreements about criticisms would be adjudicated if reviewers did not know one another’s identity, as would be the case during an academic peer-review process.

ancient greece

Ancient Atlas

I ran across this gazetteer when I was looking up classics citation styles: It allows you to find the location of ancient sites on a contemporary satellite map. Essential for re-watching Winterbottom’s Trip to Greece!

research Technical Training

Data Literacy

If anyone is looking for a publicly certified data literacy course, I would recommend checking out the offering from SAS: SAS Training: Data Literacy Essentials. I know that there is a bit of a leap gap between statistical literacy and data literacy, but at least learning the jargon will stand a person in good stead for the next 5-10 years.

ancient greece Encylopedia internet research

Archived Internet History

This site is a blast from the past of the educational internet: Hellenic History. All the page copyrights seem to be pre-2000, but the graphic design is pretty retro. I have been finding the subtopics on the Archaic age particularly useful. I ran into a similar resource when I was writing my MA thesis: it explained the basic engineering problems faced by Roman aqueduct builders very handily, but didn’t serve as a rigorous source because it didn’t have any citations. I have the sense that twenty or twenty-five years ago people were excited to host encyclopedia entries on their personal websites, and that some of these people just kept paying the ISP fees. These articles are somehow easier to digest then Wikipedia entires and also evoke a lot of nostalgia!

Bodin Technical Text Analysis

Text-Analysis GUI

I recently had a chance to demo some of the tools bundled with Sketch Engine. One cool feature it offers is the ability to create a custom corpus by scraping public domain texts off the web using to user-defined keywords. I created a small corpus of French texts dealing with Jean Bodin’s work on sovereignty and then generated an six-word n-gram and a keyword analysis. The keyword analysis is a particularly interesting feature of Sketch Engine that compares the frequency of terms in your corpus with their frequency in a reference corpus. So keyword ranking could be interpreted as a measure of the ‘salience’ of certain concepts within a corpus.

Here is a screenshot of the n-gram I generated:

Assuming that the texts Sketch Engine collated are either primary source or scholarly, this n-gram shows that while Bodin is quite concerned with identifying the location of sovereignty, the concepts of the republic and the government feature much more prominently than the person of the king.

Here is a screenshot of the keyword analysis I generated:

This multi-word keyword analysis really just demonstrates that Bodin’s approach to constitutional theory is legalistic, and that an analyst of Bodin’s work needs to figure out the conceptual relationship between sovereignty and absolutism.

Technical Training

Self-Paced Learning + Badges

There are a lot of data literacy and data science courses available online. I am sure you have your own favourites! I was impressed today to learn that the courses on are both free and grant users Credly badges on completion. Academic students of data science typically don’t worry about certifying their programming skills. However, hiring managers don’t have the time to read through a paper to find out if the author used sophisticated quantitative skills or not. So get certified! And ask probing questions about applicants’ skills profile (if you are hiring)! It takes a lot of work just to find the appropriate online learning resource. Just because applicants don’t have a sticker on their CV doesn’t mean they haven’t taken training in using a program.

Human Resources Workplace Culture

Digital Skills as Human Capital

Employers need to think about digital skills as a type of human capital that they have to invest in to maintain. This also means that digital skills capital has to be developed in the first place, just like other types of capital. Employers can’t expect to ‘buy’ digital skills capital off-the-shelf. If a business was purchasing a new building or a new IT system from a contractor, they would still be involved at the design phase and have a refit or implementation plan. How can we expect human capital (employees) to have plug-and-play digital skills that employers can secure in bulk on the open market? Gen Z workers are not tech-savvy in the workplace – and it’s a growing problem – WorkLife



Here is a link for a test that checks your up and down speed through a VPN: Skytap Speedtest. I recently switched to National Capital FreeNet as a service provider and wanted to see what level my upload speed was throttled at (its’s fairly low!). I would argue that the government should start thinking of broadband access as a capital asset. Working from home has created a new customer base for private owners of internet infrastructure without requiring them to lower costs and invest in new capacity.

Workplace Culture

Causes of Burnout

Here is an interesting article from the Harvard Business Review on the organizational causes of employee burnout: Beyond Burned Out