A busy start to 2018

I feel the need to recap what’s been going on because I’ve had the sense of being busy in January, which is not the same as being productive. Although maybe I am both?


  • Graded ~250 online exam essays.
  • Started to organise some additional classes related to undergraduate dissertations, for which I get no (formal) credit.
  • Revised our final year undergraduate year and module handbooks, getting ready for the logistical nightmare of allocating students to elective modules. Which is why I…
  • Revolutionised our procedure of allocating final year undergraduates, using the method of integer linear programming. Coded up an implementation in Matlab as it’s just a handful of lines. Hey, maybe I should sell this software?


  • Processed revisions to a PhD thesis, from a viva I conducted in Birkbeck University of London back in 2017. Job done!
  • Reviewed a paper.
  • Reviewed a grant, with my very positive hat on.
  • Hosted a Cafe Science Dundee event, “A decade of cancer prevention” on Monday 22nd. Again, I get no formal university credit for this.
  • Took part in the process of our unit hiring a new Professor.


  • Started teaching my final undergraduate year module on Decision Making. For some reason I decided to make some last minute changes to the syllabus, so this has been a bit stressful.
  • The usual student meetings and careful nurturing of my undergraduate dissertation students.
  • Resolved some straggling issues to do with some outlier MSc students from last semester.


  • Attended the excellent workshop called Predictive Processing: Reconstructing the Mind? Organised by @julietgriffin92 and @danwilliamsphil. This has really convinced me that, in the medium term, I need to be learning about the Free Energy Principle. I randomly met a statistical physicist, so there might be some follow up conversations there which should help the understanding.
  • Played a small role in setting things up to collect data at University of Dundee for the first Psychological Science Accelerator experiment, headed by Chris Chartier.
  • Paper A: Got very close to submitting the DARC Toolbox paper (with Tom Rainforth). It’s spent a time gestating as a preprint on PsyArXiv. The pre-print is kind of long, so we’ve been working on that, and updating things following a few comments on the pre-print.
  • Paper B: Made a fair amount of progress writing up a semi-theory type paper on temporal discounting. the rate limiting factor on this is getting some analysis pinned down for the supporting empirical data.
  • Paper C: Got the ball rolling with another potential collaborator in the Maths department. Hopefully this will come to something as I have a nice idea for a theory type paper on temporal discounting.
  • Paper D: endless rumination about whether to resubmit something that’s currently a single experiment paper, out as a pre-print. People are saying that single experiment papers are not going to be eligible for the REF. It’s important for me to focus on this because many of my papers thus far in the REF cycle are theory/methods/review style and so are also not REF’able. FFS, I still don’t know what to do with this paper. If I’m doing the work that I think needs to be done, should I really care? Probably, yes. In the mean time I’m trying to find time to set up a replication study.
  • Submitted an ethics form for an experiment to test some methodological questions relating the DARC Experiments paper.
  • Got a confirmed talk slot to present the DARC Toolbox at Psychonomics in Amsterdam later this year.
  • Gave an external seminar on delay discounting and hunger at the Behavioural Science Centre at the University of Stirling. This was great, there are a lot of decision making focussed people there.
  • Started to port by Bayesian analysis of delay discounting data from Matlab (delay-discounting-analysis) over to Python (darc-analysis-python). This will be much better, for many reasons.
  • Really started to learn the awesome new programming language Julia. This has had to take a back seat for the moment however as it’s not mission critical.
  • Did some logistical planning for some upcoming conferences and university visits.

So it’s not like I published 1 million papers, or even 1, but the activity levels have been high. Not quite sure how I managed that whilst also halving my average coffee consumption! Looking back at this, I feel a bit less ineffectual. However this list has zero consistency with the idea of “being focussed”. I think a lot of the drive is ensuring I’ve got enough mainstream empirical psych papers to be easily REF’able. It’s going to happen, but seem to be fretting because it’s not yet in the bag. Totally loving the work, just not the over-revving.


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