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Textbook: Writing for Statistics and Data Science

If you are looking for my textbook Writing for Statistics and Data Science here it is for free in the Open Educational Resource Commons. Wri...

Wednesday 12 July 2017

Annual Report to Stakeholders 2016-17

Executive Summary (informally, the ‘TL;DR’):

Accomplishments this year felt like a natural extension of the previous year. The amount of writing dedicated to teaching five courses does not reflect the proportion of this year's effort that went towards that.

For reference, last year's report is found here 


Gabriela and I have the start of a family going; she has moved in and we have a chihuahua-poodle puppy. People that are impressed that Einstein did all that he did with a family of five children are probably the same people that have never seen a dog like this.

Education (Learning):

I have read extensively on the craft of scientific writing. Among the most useful books have been 'The Chicago Guide to Communicating Science' and 'The Copy Editor's Handbook' for my own learning and various IELTS and TOEFL test preparation guides for teaching preparation. There are many books on academic writing, few books on scientific writing, and apparently none on statistical writing.

Between a ten-day trip to Brazil, and many conversations with Gabriela and her Brazilian friends,, I can call myself an intermediate learner of Portuguese. I also finished all the Portuguese lessons on Duolingo, and got this nifty trophy!

Although I haven't obtained any more SAS certifications, I did gain more depth as a necessity to teaching Stat 342.

I read several books on chess and chess variants. This was in order to answer the personal question 'why is our current set of rules, also called Queen's Chess, the canonical set of rules and not some other iteration?'. So far, the best answer I have the same answer for why words are spelled the way they are, or why the US uses the imperial measurement system: That's what the most popular set of rules were at the time they were frozen by their widespread, reproducible use.

I took the test to be on Jeopardy! To study for this, I played at home, read trivia books, and played the mobile version of the game until I was in the top 200 of 40,000+ players. Only 4% of test takers are contacted for an interview, and I was among the remaining 96%.

Education (Teaching):

Including this summer, I have taught five courses: Stat 305, Stat 342, Stat 201 (twice), and Stat 203. All courses except 342 were service courses, and all courses except 203 were new to me. My ratings are now collectively only slightly above average, but my applause record is still perfect at 5/5 (and one missing due to snowstorm).

In the last 12 months, about 700 students have had me as a lecturer.

Earlier this summer, I gave a series of 5 two-hour seminars on R programming for the graduate students and faculty in the department. The topics of the seminars were vectorization, optimization, scraping and cleaning text data, imputation, and using GGplot, respectively.

I also gave an invited lecture (over video conferencing) to Kevin Kniffin's sports science class at Cornell University. I gave a presentation of data mining tools to the SFU Sports Analytics Club.

In the next year, I will be teaching 203, 305, and 342 again. The notes for 305, and especially 203, are robust, but 342 needs work. Stat 342 is the SAS programming course, and I want to give it more depth this time around.

The other course for next year, Stat 300, is statistical writing, for which I've made extensive preparations.


The hockey pace paper that Rajitha, Tim, I wrote was accepted and we did a round of suggested revisions and some other improvements. Kevin Kniffin and Christian Hilbricht (of Cornell University) and I co-authored a paper on the timeout in hockey. I wrote my first solo paper on goalie fatigue in hockey. I also submitted the network analysis work from the thesis to ArXiV.

I updated the previously mentioned hockey research on the overtime loss rule at the Cascadia Sports Conference in Vancouver in September with recent years of data, as well as additional depth on shot count. However, the results were less significant than expected, meaning that teams are playing closer , there were negative results.

I networked in person with some potential collaborators at the University of Campinas in Brazil.

Publishing and Service:

I have started writing a coursepack / textbook on statistical writing. So far, along with material from the blog, I've made
- A test based on IELTS to see if the book and course are appropriate for you.
- An assignment on writing scientific questions
- An assignment, complete with example, to write a shortened paper for general interest
- A collection of example 'microconsults', based on my answers to statistics questions on online forums.
- Two reading comprehension assignments based on reproducibility and on undergrad research (in addition to the four such assignments previously posted on the blog)

2 papers were refereed for the Open Journal of Statistics.

7 papers were copy-edited for the Canadian Journal of Statistics.

20 blog posts were made and kept, not including this one. This is down from last year's 26, but the length of the posts are trending longer, and popularity of the blog itself is trending higher. The post on the Jeopardy analysis has more than 1300 views as of writing this.

3 students' theses were helped toward completion through copy-editing, coding, and/or consulting.

Game Design:

Not my accomplishment, but I funded (solo, not crowd) the creation of a mobile game by a friend. It's still in pre-alpha, but he's making a lot of progress.

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