Screenshot 2016-02-05 17.25.43

What scientists could learn from football bloggers


One of the things I have found out from writing about football analytics, which I have been doing a lot of recently, is that there is a very lively Twitter community. There are a whole load of bloggers who create statistical and mathematical models of all aspects of football and share their results directly on Twitter and through blogs. This leads to a really open dialogue.

As a scientist, what has surprised me most is that some of the discussion is pretty technical. The bloggers give constructive criticism about what each other are doing---from modelling the frequency of draws, to shot regression, to plotting passing networks---there is lively argument and debate about the best way to do things. If you don't believe me follow people like Michael Caley (@MC_of_A), Analytics FC (@AnalyicsFC), Soccermetric (@Soccermetric), DeepXG (@deepxg) and Constantinos Chaps (@cchappas). And this is just a small selection.

This type of debate and discussion is often missing from the way scientists use Twitter. We retweet our papers and links to press articles about our work, but don't use it so much for talking about what we do. And we seldom present research results that aren't complete. Over lunch today our research group discussed why this is. The answers included: 'there isn't much to show', 'someone might steel results', 'football is more interesting to other people than science', 'I don't want to deluge other people in tweets'  and 'it might prove to be wrong, so its better not to share'.

Anyway, we decided to try and do more of it in our #collectivebehavior research. A few more members of our group will join Twitter and put a few things out there. It would be great if other researchers working on collective behaviour could also get involved. Send out what you are working on and lets discuss things more! I don't know if it will work, but things like this are always worth trying.