Hello World!

22 Mar 2021 » misc

Hello World!

Thanks for coming by this blog! In a typical academic writing style, this first post will outline some of the context and motivation for creating this blog. I’m hoping this will help organize my thoughts and let you decide whether to read on.

My name is Musashi, I’m a mid-stage doctoral student in political science at the University of Oxford. Before this, I worked as a data scientist at a stock exchange in Tokyo, where I was introduced to Python, Linux and the idea that you can automate anything that you do on a computer. These skills have been integral to the work I now do as an academic; to illustrate what that means, here are some of the things I have done recently:

  • Build and deploy a custom survey website on AWS that used a Random Forest algorithm in the back end to optimally assign treatments.
  • Prepare and teach an Introduction to Python course online using GitHub and Google Colab.
  • A lot of web-scraping.
  • Deploy MariaDB and PostgreSQL databases on local and remote machines for large datasets (100+ tables, 10 million+ rows).

I don’t mean to claim that the computational tools are necessary for academics, but they certainly expand the realm of what is possible for an individual research with close to no budget. The obstacle, however, is that learning the skills to achieve any of these things is an investment of time and energy, which could be spent on substantive research instead.

I’m a strong believer in collaboration and efficiency, and I hope that some day our discipline could resemble the lab-based organization of the hard sciences, but until that happens we will all have to learn to be our own IT and data science (DS) division.

That’s where this blog comes in—Full Stack Political Science. My aim with this blog is to share notes, tutorials and tips that will provide a reference for social science researchers aiming to automate the automatable parts of their research workflow.

In addition to doing research with computational tools, I also do research on computational and other quantitative methods. I plan to share notes from my research and readings on this blog as well.

As a final note, all examples and advice on this blog will pertain to free and open source resources. This is both for pragmatic reasons—early-stage researchers are often working on a tight budget—and for philosophical ones. I’ll leave that latter point for another post.

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