Tag Archives: publication

Paper submitted to Agent-Based Modelling of Urban Systems workshop

Just submitted a new paper with several colleagues from Teesside to the ABMUS 17 workshop at this year’s AAMAS conference in Brazil.  This is an overview of early-stage work on an agent-based modelling framework incorporating a 3D virtual environment.  The intention is to create an ABM that can be used as a research tool, simulating the actions and interactions of simulated agents in order to study some pressing problems in public health, and also as a learning tool that allows users to interact with the virtual world and see the health impact of changes to agent behaviour or their environment.

Here’s a little preview in the form of a screenshot of the paper itself — I’ll post the whole thing as usual if it’s accepted.


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Paper accepted to Alife XV

I’m pleased to say that the paper I’ve been going on about now for some time, titled Job Insecurity in Academic Research Employment: An Agent-Based Model, has been accepted to Alife XV in Cancun this summer.  I’m currently working on some revisions to the paper to account for some helpful suggestions from the reviewers — as soon as the final camera-ready preprint is available I’ll post it here and the usual places (ResearchGate, Academia.edu, etc.).

Hope to see some of you in sunny Mexico come July 🙂

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Paper Submitted To Alife XV

I’m happy to report that I’ve recently submitted a first paper on the postdoc simulation I’ve been plugging on these pages for some time.  I’ve been working in collaboration with Nic Geard of the University of Melbourne and Ian Wood, my officemate at Teesside.

The submitted paper is titled Job Insecurity in Academic Research Employment: An Agent-Based Model.  Here’s the abstract:

This paper presents an agent-based model of fixed-term academic employment in a competitive research funding environment.  The goal of the model is to investigate the effects of job insecurity on research productivity.  Agents may be either established academics who may apply for grants, or postdoctoral researchers who are unable to apply for grants and experience hardship when reaching the end of their fixed-term contracts.  Results show that in general adding fixed-term postdocs to the system produces less total research output than adding half as many permanent academics.  An in-depth sensitivity analysis is performed across postdoc scenarios, and indicates that promoting more postdocs into permanent positions produces significant increases in research output.

The paper outlines our methodology for the model and analyses a number of different sets of scenarios.  Alongside the comparison to permanent academic hires mentioned above, we also look closely at unique aspects of the postdoc life cycle, such as the difficult transition into permanent employment and the stress induced by an impending redundancy.  For the sensitivity analysis we used a Gaussian process emulator, which allows us to gain some insight into the effects of some key model parameters.

The paper will be under review for the Alife XV conference very shortly, so I don’t want to pre-empt the conference by posting the full text here.  If — fingers crossed — it gets accepted, I’ll post a PDF as soon as it’s appropriate.  If you want a preview or are interested in collaborating on future versions of the model, please get in touch!

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Paper published in Revue Quetelet

Daniel Courgeau, Jakub Bijak, Robert Franck and myself have just had a paper published in Revue Quetelet entitled Are the four Baconian idols still alive in demography?  The full PDF of the paper is available for free at the link.

I very much enjoyed contributing to this paper; as a relative newcomer to the field of demography, it is not often that one gets to pontificate on the past and future of a 450-year-old discipline with much more senior researchers.  Abstract follows, in French and English:

Cet article examine les quatre sortes d’idoles qui selon le Novum Organon de Bacon (1620) affectent l’esprit humain. Il s’agit des idoles de la Tribu – qui résultent de la croyance «que le sens humain est la mesure des choses» ; des idoles de la caverne – qui sont propres à chacun de nous ; des idoles du forum – «qui prennent naissance dans le commerce et la communauté des hommes», et des idoles du théâtre – «introduites dans l’esprit par les divers systèmes des philosophes et les mauvaises méthodes de démonstration». Nous examinons si ces idoles sont toujours présentes dans les sciences sociales contemporaines, et examinons plusieurs exemples affectant la démographie – la génétique du comportement, la théorie postmoderne, l’héréditarisme et l’herméneutique moderne. L’analyse de ces exemples suggère fortement que la démographie doit rester fidèle à la méthode scientifique lorsqu’elle recourt à de nouvelles approches et inspirations.

In this paper, we examine the four Idols that beset human minds according to Francis Bacon’s Novum Organum (1620). These are: Idols of the Tribe – false assertions resulting from the belief that «the sense of man is the measure of things»; Idols of the Cave – peculiar to the individual people; Idols of the Market Place – resulting from «the intercourse and association of men with each other», and Idols of the Theatre – stemming from «dogmas of philosophies and… wrong laws of demonstration». We aim to see if these Idols are still alive in contemporary population sciences, and look at several examples from the fringes of demography – behaviour genetics, postmodern theory, hereditarianism, and modern hermeneutics. The analysis of these examples strongly suggests that demography needs to remain faithful to the scientific method whilst looking for new insights and inspirations.

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Attending Alife 14 in New York

I’m pleased to say that another recent paper, this one titled Advancing Social Simulation: Lessons from Demography, has been accepted to the Alife 14 conference in New York.  I’ll be giving an oral presentation on this work, which was a joint project with Jakub Bijak, Daniel Courgeau and Robert Franck.  This is an early version of a rather complicated set of ideas that we hope to publish in a larger journal paper sometime down the line.

Abstract follows:

Previous work has proposed that computational modelling of social systems is composed of two primary streams of research: systems sociology, which is focused on the generation of social theory; and social simulation, which focuses on the study of real-world social systems. Here we argue that the social simulation stream stands to benefit from recent methodological and theoretical advances in demography. Demography has long been an empirically focused discipline focused primarily on mathematical modelling; however, agent-based simulation have proven influential of late as demographers seek to link individual-level behaviours to macro-level
patterns. Here we characterise this shift as a move toward system-based modelling, a paradigm in which the scientific object of interest is neither the individual nor the population, but rather the interactions between them. We first describe the four successive paradigms of demography: the period, cohort, event-history and multilevel perspectives. Then we examine how system-based modelling can assist demographers with several major challenges: overcoming complexity in social research; reducing uncertainty; and enhancing theoretical foundations. We propose that this new paradigm can enhance the broader study of populations via social simulation.

I’ll upload the full paper once the final corrected version is done and submitted.  The conference proceedings will be open-access in MIT Press.

Hope to see some of you in NYC!

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Article forthcoming in Revue Quetelet

As you may have seen in a previous post I was involved in two submissions to the recent Chaire Quetelet Seminar at the Université catholique de Louvain.  Our paper titled “Are the four Baconian Idols still alive in Demography?” has now been accepted to the Revue Quetelet journal after passing peer review, and should appear soon once we do some minor revisions.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the actual seminar at the time due to UK visa problems, but I heard from my colleagues that it was a very successful and stimulating event.  I should note that all three of my co-authors speak French, so I suspect the French-language portions of the seminar would have been much more difficult for me, but still I trust their feedback 🙂

I’m very pleased to be involved in such stimulating papers and to be publishing for the first time in a bilingual English/French journal!  Please do click the paper title to read our submitted version for now, and look forward to our revised version which will then appear in Revue Quetelet later this year.

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Paper published in Demographic Research

Just had another publication pop up online!  This one is an examination of paradigm change in demography and an argument for developing a new sub-field around the history of population science.  I’m pleased to say this one is also in Demographic Research, an open-access journal with some of the most cheerful and helpful editors around.  This paper’s called Quantifying paradigm change in demography and was written by Jakub Bijak, Daniel Courgeau, myself, and Robert Franck.

Our paper for Population and Development Review is still being looked at, but with luck we may hear about it soon.  In the meantime take a look at this one, and do support Demographic Research if you publish in this area — we should all be supporting high-quality open-access journals as much as we can.

Here’s the abstract:

Background: Demography is a uniquely empirical research area amongst the social sciences. We posit that the same principle of empiricism should be applied to studies of the population sciences as a discipline, contributing to greater self-awareness amongst its practitioners.

Objective: The paper aims to include measurable data in the study of changes in selected demographic paradigms and perspectives.

Methods: The presented analysis is descriptive and is based on a series of simple measures obtained from the free online tool Google Books Ngram Viewer, which includes frequencies of word groupings (n-grams) in different collections of books digitised by Google.

Results: The tentative findings corroborate the shifts in the demographic paradigms identified in the literature — from cross-sectional, through longitudinal, to event-history and multilevel approaches.

Conclusions: These findings identify a promising area of enquiry into the development of demography as a social science discipline. We postulate that more detailed enquiries in this area in the future could lead to establishing History of Population Thought as a new sub-discipline within population sciences.

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Paper Submitted to Population and Development Review

Another collaborative paper is now under review — this one a lengthy discussion of the future of demography called “From the past to the future of demography”.  There were four of us on this one: myself, Jakub Bijak, Daniel Courgeau and Robert Franck.  We submitted it to Population and Development Review — first we have to undergo a two-month-long preliminary review process, followed by a full review that could take several more months!  Hopefully the demography community finds it to be worth the wait 🙂

Abstract follows:

This paper aims to contribute to the debate on the future of demography. First we call attention to the developments of the discipline since the XVIIth century, and we describe its four successive paradigms related to the period, cohort, event-history and multilevel perspectives. We argue that these paradigms are complementary and that demography, since its beginnings, has subscribed to the classical scientific research programme launched by the promoters of modern science. Next we examine how simulation modelling may respond to three main challenges: how to overcome complexity in social research; how to reduce its uncertainty; and how to reinforce its theoretical foundations. We sketch a new paradigm for demography, system-based modelling, looking at interactions between various population systems. We then show how this new paradigm might conform to the classical scientific research programme, in order to take advantage of its benefits. We conclude with a tentative programme for the future of demography.

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Book review published

The review of Daniel Courgeau’s 2012 volume Probability and Social Science my colleague Jakub Bijak and I put together has now been published!

You can find it here.  Sadly the article is behind a paywall, at least for the moment, but if you require a pre-print version please get in touch.

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Book review in press

My colleague Jakub Bijak and I recently put together a book review on Daniel Courgeau’s 2012 book for Springer ‘Probability and Social Science‘.  Jakub is a demographer and I’m an agent-based modeller with interests in social systems, so we decided to put our heads together and do an interdisciplinary book review for Daniel’s volume.  Spoiler alert: it’s a very good book.

Our review is in the journal Population Studies and will be available online soon — we just received information on how to make it open-access today 🙂

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