SORTEE member voices – David Wilkinson

By SORTEE | October 3, 2022

[SORTEE member voices is a weekly Q&A with a different SORTEE member]

Name: David Wilkinson.

Date: 18 July 2021.

Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

Research and/or work interests: Joint species distribution modelling; occupancy modelling; computational reproducibility; version control; code/data sharing practices.

How did you become interested in open research?
It wasn’t really the “open research” concept directly that first interested me, but as a primarily methods-based quantitative ecologist it was code and data sharing that made my PhD research possible, and from there I got into other practices.    

What ‘ORT’ practice have you introduced into your research practice that you’ve found really helpful?
Version control is easily the most useful ORT practice I’ve picked up, it makes both code/data sharing and collaboration far easier than it has been in the past.    

If you could recommend one paper to the community of ecologists and evolutionary biologists on an openness / reliability / transparency topic, what paper would you choose?
‘Some guidance on using mathematical notation in ecology’ (2019) by Edwards & Auger-Méthé. Maths and stats has made more than a few ecologists run for the hills, but it can really help get your message across exactly as intended in a way that words would leave open to interpretation.    

What is an open / reliable / transparent science practice that you admire but have not yet adopted in your own work?
Pre-registration. I need to do some thinking about how to apply it to research developing a new methodology. There might be guidelines for how to report the methodology you’re using when doing an applied project, but not sure how it works when you’re trying to build those methods instead.    

What’s the last book that affected the way you currently think about things?
“The Ministry For The Future” by Kim Stanley Robinson. It presents a less pessimistic possibility around Earth’s possible response to the climate crisis over the next century than I usually entertain.    

Tell us about one of your hobbies.
Model kits! I’ve spent the past nearly 20 years building and painting various fantasy and sci-fi model kits. It is one of my favourite hobbies for doing something with my hands that also serves as an avenue for creative output.    

Do you have a favorite non-human organism? What is it and why is it your favorite?
The okapi. Just look at it, how is it not everyone’s favourite?    

What was your most embarrassing coding moment?
Does my entire Master’s research code base count? If so, that. If not, spending over eight hours to find out I was saving an interim file as an .md and not .Rmd and it breaking all of my outputs…    

Where to find you online?:

David Wilkinson