Professor Nigel Gilbert CBE

Professor of Sociology



Research interests

Research projects


Postgraduate research supervision

My publications


Researching Social Life, fourth edition, 2016, edited by Nigel Gilbert and Paul Stoneman, Sage Publications.


Simulation for the Social Scientist, second edition 2005, Nigel Gilbert and Klaus G. Troitzsch, Open University Press (also available in Japanese, Russian and Spanish).

Understanding Social Statistics, 2000, Jane Fielding and Nigel Gilbert, Sage Publications.

Opening Pandora's Box, available online (2003), Cambridge University Press, 1984.


Pete Barbrook-Johnson, Brian Castellani, Dione Hills, Alexandra Penn, Nigel Gilbert (2021)Policy evaluation for a complex world: Practical methods and reflections from the UK Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity across the Nexus, In: Evaluation (London, England. 1995)27(1)pp. 4-17 SAGE Publications
The value of complexity science and related approaches in policy evaluation have been widely discussed over the last 20 years, not least in this journal. We are now at a crossroads; this Special Issue argues that the use of complexity science in evaluation could deepen and broaden rendering evaluations more practical and rigorous. The risk is that the drive to better evaluate policies from a complexity perspective could falter. This special issue is the culmination of 4 years’ work at this crossroads in the UK Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus. It includes two papers which consider the cultural and organisational operating context for the use of complexity in evaluation and four methodological papers on developments and applications. Together, with a strong input from practitioners, these papers aim to make complexity actionable and expand the use of complexity ideas in evaluation and policy practice.
JIE JIANG, QIUQIANG KONG, MARK DAVID PLUMBLEY, GEOFFREY NIGEL GILBERT, MARK HOOGENDOORN, DIEDERIK M. ROIJERS Deep Learning Based Energy Disaggregation and On/Off Detection of Household Appliances, In: ACM Transactions on Knowledge Discovery from Data Association for Computing Machinery
Energy disaggregation, a.k.a. Non-Intrusive Load Monitoring, aims to separate the energy consumption of individual appliances from the readings of a mains power meter measuring the total energy consumption of, e.g. a whole house. Energy consumption of individual appliances can be useful in many applications, e.g., providing appliance-level feedback to the end users to help them understand their energy consumption and ultimately save energy. Recently, with the availability of large-scale energy consumption datasets, various neural network models such as convolutional neural networks and recurrent neural networks have been investigated to solve the energy disaggregation problem. Neural network models can learn complex patterns from large amounts of data and have been shown to outperform the traditional machine learning methods such as variants of hidden Markov models. However, current neural network methods for energy disaggregation are either computational expensive or are not capable of handling long-term dependencies. In this paper, we investigate the application of the recently developed WaveNet models for the task of energy disaggregation. Based on a real-world energy dataset collected from 20 households over two years, we show that WaveNet models outperforms the state-of-the-art deep learning methods proposed in the literature for energy disaggregation in terms of both error measures and computational cost. On the basis of energy disaggregation, we then investigate the performance of two deep-learning based frameworks for the task of on/off detection which aims at estimating whether an appliance is in operation or not. Based on the same dataset, we show that for the task of on/off detection the second framework, i.e., directly training a binary classifier, achieves better performance in terms of F1 score.
F Laczko, A Dale, S Arber, GN Gilbert (1988)Early retirement in a period of high unemployment, In: Journal of Social Policy17(3)pp. 313-333
GN Gilbert, S Arber, A Dale (1983)The General Household Survey as a source for secondary analysis, In: Sociology17pp. 255-259
A Dale, S Arber, GN Gilbert (1983)Alternative measures of social class for women and families Equal Opportunities Commission
A Dale, GN Gilbert, S Arber (1985)Integrating women into class theory, In: Sociology19pp. 384-409
S Arber, A Dale, GN Gilbert (1985)Paid employment and women’s health: a benefit or a source of rôle strain?, In: Sociology of Health and Illness7pp. 375-400
S Arber, L Rajan, GN Gilbert, A Dale (1985)Gender and Inequality in Britain Longmans Educational Publishing
S Arber, A Dale, GN Gilbert (1986)The limitations of existing social class classifications for women, In: The measurement of social classpp. 73-93 Social Research Association
S Arber, GN Gilbert (1989)Men: the forgotten carers, In: Sociology23(1)pp. 111-118
S Arber, GN Gilbert, A Dale, L Rajan (1985)Poverty and Income in Britain Longmans Educational Publishing
S Arber, GN Gilbert, M Evandrou (1988)Gender, household composition and receipt of domiciliary services by elderly disabled people, In: Journal of Social Policy17pp. 153-175
S Arber, GN Gilbert (1991)Women and working lives: divisions and change Macmillan
S Arber, GN Gilbert (1991)Re-assessing women's working lives: an introductory essay, In: Women and working lives: divisions and change Macmillan
GN Gilbert, L Rajan, S Arber, A Dale (1985)Class and Inequality in Britain Longmans Educational Publishing
M Evandrou, S Arber, A Dale, GN Gilbert (1986)Who cares for the elderly? Family care provision and receipt of statutory service, In: Dependency and interdependency in old age: theoretical perspectives and policy alternatives Croom Helm
C Bamford, A Dale, S Arber, GN Gilbert (1987)Time series analysis of the General Household Survey, In: GHS Newsletter(3)pp. 15-17
Helen Wilkinson, Nigel Gilbert, Liz Varga, Corinna Elsenbroich, Henry Leveson-Gower, Jonathan Dennis (2016)Agent-Based Modelling for Evaluation. CECAN Evaluation and Policy Practice Note (EPPN) No. 3 for policy analysts and evaluators. Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN)
This is an Evaluation Policy and Practice Note that explores the application of Agent-Based Modelling (ABM) for complex policy evaluation.
Martha Bicket, Ian Christie, Nigel Gilbert, Alex Penn, Dione Hills, Helen Wilkinson (2020)CECAN Evaluation and Policy Practice Note (EPPN) for policy analysts and evaluators - Complexity and what it means for policy design, implementation and evaluation The Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN)
This briefing explains what complexity science and systems thinking means for people developing and delivering policy. It also introduces a common language and set of symbols to help frame thinking, conversations and action on complexity.
Maria Xenitidou, Nigel Gilbert (2009)Innovations in Social Science Research Methods NCRM E-Prints


One of the aims of the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) is to identify and foster methodological innovation in the UK. The aim of this project was to identify methodological innovations outside the UK and draw NCRM’s attention to them. The project sought out research practices that have not yet filtered through to typical research methods courses or that impact on the research process in novel ways. These usually entailed (i) technological innovation, (ii) the use of existing theoretical approaches and methods in new ways and (iii) interdisciplinary.

The project’s focus on innovative research practices ranged from data collection to analysis and covered disciplines such as (social) psychology, sociology, social work, socio-legal studies, political science (including public health and public policy) and international studies, (social) geography (area studies, demography, environmental and urban planning), (social) anthropology, (socio-)linguistics, education, communication studies, economic and social history, economics (management and business studies), science and technology studies, statistics, methods and computing.

The work was conducted between October 2008 and March 2009 and written up in April and May 2009. The project gathered evidence by reviewing previous reports, carrying out desktop research, conducting an e-mail survey with academics, practitioners, research methods experts and others (N=215) - registering data entries in the form of nominations of experts, institutions and links to explore (N=670) - and holding interviews with gatekeepers (N=36) and telephone interviews with nominated experts (N=40).

The project concluded, firstly, that innovative methodologies usually entail the use of one or more technological innovation(s) (visual, digital or online). This could be the advent of new software or the development of online methods and the use of the Internet to conduct research. Secondly, innovative methodologies often entail crossing disciplinary boundaries. This is observed in combinations of disciplines and methods such as in ethnography, anthropology and psychology. Thirdly, innovative methodologies often entail the use of existing theoretical approaches and methods in reformed or mixed and applied ways. This is observed in participatory methods, action research, professional work, social and consultancy work. Finally, innovative methodologies reside both inside traditional academic institutions (universities) and outside (research centres, institutes, consultancy agencies and organisations), yet even in the latter methods developers and experts usually have academic backgrounds and previous or current affiliations, status or posts.

Overall, psychology figured prominently in methodological innovations and developments followed by survey methodology, ethnography, sociology and management. These developments were classified into mixed (N=8), qualitative (N=7) and quantitative (N=7) types of research. The institutional structures identified as ‘hosting’ these developments are primarily Academic followed by both Academic and Professional, then Research Centres and finally Professional and Consultancy institutions. The majority of the innovations are a consequence of working across disciplinary boundaries, followed by developments within methods and disciplines and then by developments in technology. Innovations were mainly spotted in North America – the USA and Canada – Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

The report includes summary descriptions of the methodological innovations located by the project. As a follow up to this project a workshop will be organised to bring together some of the developers and experts identified of these innovations. The workshop is planned to be adjacent to the NCRM Research Methods Festival to be held in July 2010.

P Ahrweiler, N Gilbert, A Pyka (2011)Agency and structure: a social simulation of knowledge-intensive industries, In: Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory17(1)pp. 59-76 SPRINGER
Modern knowledge-intensive economies are complex social systems where intertwining factors are responsible for the shaping of emerging industries: the self-organising interaction patterns and strategies of the individual actors (an agency-oriented pattern) and the institutional frameworks of different innovation systems (a structure-oriented pattern). In this paper, we examine the relative primacy of the two patterns in the development of innovation networks, and find that both are important. In order to investigate the relative significance of strategic decision making by innovation network actors and the roles played by national institutional settings, we use an agent-based model of knowledge-intensive innovation networks, SKIN. We experiment with the simulation of different actor strategies and different access conditions to capital in order to study the resulting effects on innovation performance and size of the industry. Our analysis suggests that actors are able to compensate for structural limitations through strategic collaborations. The implications for public policy are outlined.
Nigel Gilbert, P Ahrweiler, Peter Barbrook-Johnson, Kavin Narasimhan, H Wilkinson (2018)Computational Modelling of Public Policy: Reflections on Practice, In: Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation21(1)pp. 1-14 SimSoc Consortium
Computational models are increasingly being used to assist in developing, implementing and evaluating public policy. This paper reports on the experience of the authors in designing and using computational models of public policy (‘policy models’, for short). The paper considers the role of computational models in policy making, and some of the challenges that need to be overcome if policy models are to make an effective contribution. It suggests that policy models can have an important place in the policy process because they could allow policy makers to experiment in a virtual world, and have many advantages compared with randomised control trials and policy pilots. The paper then summarises some general lessons that can be extracted from the authors’ experience with policy modelling. These general lessons include the observation that often the main benefit of designing and using a model is that it provides an understanding of the policy domain, rather than the numbers it generates; that care needs to be taken that models are designed at an appropriate level of abstraction; that although appropriate data for calibration and validation may sometimes be in short supply, modelling is often still valuable; that modelling collaboratively and involving a range of stakeholders from the outset increases the likelihood that the model will be used and will be fit for purpose; that attention needs to be paid to effective communication between modellers and stakeholders; and that modelling for public policy involves ethical issues that need careful consideration. The paper concludes that policy modelling will continue to grow in importance as a component of public policy making processes, but if its potential is to be fully realised, there will need to be a melding of the cultures of computational modelling and policy making.
GN Gilbert (1976)The development of science and scientific knowledge: the case of radar meteor research, In: Perspectives on the emergence of Scientific Disciplinespp. 187-206 Mouton
GN Gilbert, C Heath (1985)Social action and artificial intelligence Gower
P Dawson, S Buckland, GN Gilbert (1990)Expert systems and the public provision of welfare benefit advice, In: Policy and Politics18(1)pp. 43-54
GN Gilbert, S Hassan, L Antunes, J Pavon Stepping on earth. A roadmap for data-driven agent-based modelling, In: Proceedings of European Social Simulation Association Annual Conference
Ian Brunton-Smith, J Carpenter, M Kenward, Roger Tarling (2014)Multiple Imputation for handling missing data in social research, In: Social Research Update(65) Department of Sociology, University of Surrey

Missing data frequently occurs in quantitative social research. For example, in a survey of individuals, some of those selected for interview will not agree to participate (unit non-response) and others who do agree to be interviewed will not always answer all the questions (item non-response).

At its most benign, missing data reduces the achieved sample size, and consequently the precision of estimates. However, missing data can also result in biased inferences about outcomes and relationships of interest. Broadly, if the underlying, unseen, responses from those individuals in the survey frame who have one or more missing responses differ systematically from those individuals in the survey frame whose responses are all observed, then any analysis restricted to the subset of individuals whose responses are all observed runs the risk of producing biased inferences for the target population.

Thus every researcher needs to take seriously the potential consequences of missing data. This paper describes the use of Multiple Imputation (MI) to correct estimates for missing data, under a general assumption about the cause, or reason for missing data. This is generally termed the missingness mechanism. MI has robust theoretical properties while being flexible, generalisable and readily available in a range of statistical software.

N Gilbert (2001)Research, Theory and Method, In: Researching Social Life(Two) Sage
Mohamed Abdou, Nigel Gilbert, Katherine Tyler (2008)Agent-Based Simulation Model for Social and Workplace Segregation

The relationship between social segregation and workplace segregation has been traditionally studied as a one-way causal relationship mediated by referral hiring. In this paper we introduce an alternative framework which describes the dynamic relationships between social segregation, workplace segregation, individuals’ homophily levels, and referral hiring. An agent-based simulation model was developed based on this framework. The model describes the process of continuous change in composition of workplaces and social networks of agents, and how this process affects levels of workplace segregation and the segregation of social networks of the agents (people). It is concluded that: (1) social segregation and workplace segregation may co- evolve even when hiring of workers occurs mainly through formal channels and the population is initially integrated (2) majority groups tend to be more homophilous than minority groups, and (3) referral hiring may be beneficial for minority groups when the population is highly segregated.

GN Gilbert (1976)The transformation of research findings into scientific knowledge, In: Social Studies of Science6pp. 281-306
GN Gilbert, A Dale, M S.Arber, F Evandrou, Laczko (1989)Resources in old age: ageing and the life course, In: Growing old in the 20th Centurypp. 93-114 Routledge
N Gilbert, M den Besten, A Bontovics, BGW Craenen, F Divina, AE Eiben, R Griffioen, G Hévízi, A Lõrincz, B Paechter, S Schuster, MC Schut, C Tzolov, P Vogt, L Yang (2006)Emerging Artificial Societies Through Learning, In: Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation9(2)pp. http-//
The NewTies project is implementing a simulation in which societies of agents are expected to de-velop autonomously as a result of individual, population and social learning. These societies are expected to be able to solve environmental challenges by acting collectively. The challenges are in-tended to be analogous to those faced by early, simple, small-scale human societies. This report on work in progress outlines the major features of the system as it is currently conceived within the project, including the design of the agents, the environment, the mechanism for the evolution of language and the peer-to-peer infrastructure on which the simulation runs.
GN Gilbert, P Ahrweiler (2009)The epistemologies of social simulation research, In: Epistemological aspects of computer simulation in the social sciencespp. 12-28

Computational sociology models social phenomena using the concepts of emergence and downward causation. But the theoretical status of these concepts is ambiguous; they suppose too much ontology and are invoked by two opposed sociological stands, namely, individualistic and holistic interpretations of social phenomena. In this paper, we propose a theoretical alternative that not only might clarify those concepts, but also keep their heuristic and interpretative value for computational sociology. We do so by advancing two proposals. Firstly, we suggest a non-ontological framework that allows modellers to identify emergent processes. This framework asserts the macro level and micro level as the emergent by-products of an instrumental prompting (the very modellers’ act of distinguishing). Secondly, in order to support analytically the modellers’ simulations, we link this non-ontological framework with the theory of self-referential social systems. This theory gives an account of the emergence of the social realm from the bottom-up as communication and describes the process by which society limits the possible selections of individuals. These two proposals are well-positioned to overcome some epistemological drawbacks, although they also generate new challenges to computational sociology.

GN Gilbert, L Crossfield (1986)Introducing expert systems into a large legislation-based organisation, In: Expert Systems and Knowledge Engineeringpp. 95-100 North-Holland
An agent-based computational model, based on longitudinal ethnographic data about the dynamics of intra-group behaviour and work group performance, has been developed from observing an organizational group in the service sector. The model, in which the agents represent workers and tasks, is used to assess the effect of emotional expressions on the dynamics of interpersonal behaviour in work groups, particularly for groups that have recent newcomers. The model simulates the gradual socialization of newcomers into the work group. Through experimenting with the model, conclusions about the factors that influence the socialization process were studied in order to obtain a better understanding of the effect of emotional expressions. It is shown that although positive emotional display accelerates the socialization process, it can have negative effects on work group performance.
A Dale, GN Gilbert (1985)Scientific Information Retrieval, In: ESRC Software Bulletin(13)pp. 1-2
GN Gilbert, N Fraser, R Wooffitt (1990)Organising computer talk, In: Computers and conversationpp. 235-258 Academic
A.C. Skeldon, F. Schiller, A. Yang, T. Balke-Visser, A. Penn, N. Gilbert (2018)Agent-based modelling to predict policy outcomes: a food waste recycling example, In: Environmental Science and Policy87pp. 85-91 Elsevier

Optimising policy choices to steer social/economic systems efficiently towards desirable outcomes is challenging. The inter-dependent nature of many elements of society and the economy means that policies designed to promote one particular aspect often have secondary, unintended, effects. In order to make rational decisions, methodologies and tools to assist the development of intuition in this complex world are needed. One approach is the use of agent-based models. These have the ability to capture essential features and interactions and predict outcomes in a way that is not readily achievable through either equations or words alone.

In this paper we illustrate how agent-based models can be used in a policy setting by using an example drawn from the biowaste industry. This example describes the growth of in-vessel composting and anaerobic digestion to reduce food waste going to landfill in response to policies in the form of taxes and financial incentives. The fundamentally dynamic nature of an agent-based modelling approach is used to demonstrate that policy outcomes depend not just on current policy levels but also on the historical path taken.

GN Gilbert, P S. Buckland, D Dawson, P Frohlich, L Luff, B Crossfield, P Cordingley, Robinson (1988)Functional specification for the Advice System University of Surrey
GN Gilbert, KG Troitzsch (1997)Social science microsimulation, In: Bulletin Methodologie Sociologique(56)pp. 71-83
GN Gilbert (1987)Cognitive and social models of the user, In: Human-Computer Interaction - Interact ’87pp. 165-172 North-Holland
MJ Mulkay, GN Gilbert (1982)Warranting Scientific Belief, In: Social Studies of Science12pp. 383-408
M Mulkay, GN Gilbert (1986)Replication and mere replication, In: Philosophy of the Social Sciences16(1)pp. 21-38
There is an asymmetry in the procedures used by natural scientists to account for `correct belief' and for `error'. Correct belief is treated as the normal state of affairs, as deriving unproblematically from experimental evidence, and as requiring no special explanation. Errors are seen as something to be explained away, as due to the intrusion of non-scientific influences. An elaborate repertoire of interpretative resources is employed in accounting for error. Asymmetrical accounting for error and for correct belief is a social device which reinforces the traditional conception of scientific rationality and which makes the community of scientists appear as the kind of community we, and they, recognize as scientific.
GN Gilbert (1986)Computer help with welfare benefits, In: Computer Bulletin1(3)pp. 2-4
MJ Mulkay, GN Gilbert (1983)Scientists' theory talk, In: Canadian Journal of Sociology8pp. 179-197
MJ Mulkay, GN Gilbert (1983)Opening Pandora’s Box, In: Sociology of the Arts and Sciences4pp. 113-139
A Monk, GN Gilbert, B Nardi, M Mantei, J McCarthy (1993)Mixing oil and water? Ethnography vs. experimental psychology in the study of computer-mediated communication, In: Proceedings of INTERCHI 1993pp. 3-6 Association for Computing Machinery
MJ Mulkay, GN Gilbert, S Woolgar (1975)Problem areas and research networks in science, In: Sociology9pp. 187-204
S Arber, GN Gilbert (1989)Transitions in caring: Gender, Life Course and the care of the Elderly, In: Becoming and being oldpp. 72-93 Sage
GN Gilbert (1984)Statistical Packages on microcomputers, In: ESRC Data Archive Bulletin(27)pp. 51-52
M Salgado, N Gilbert (2012)Emergence and Communication in Computational Sociology, In: Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour Wiley-Blackwell
Computational sociology models social phenomena using the concepts of emergence and downward causation. However, the theoretical status of these concepts is ambiguous; they suppose too much ontology and are invoked by two opposed sociological interpretations of social reality: the individualistic and the holistic. This paper aims to clarify those concepts and argue in favour of their heuristic value for social simulation. It does so by proposing a link between the concept of emergence and Luhmann's theory of communication. For Luhmann, society emerges from the bottom-up as communication and he describes the process by which society limits the possible selections of individuals as downward causation. It is argued that this theory is well positioned to overcome some epistemological drawbacks in computational sociology. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
GN Gilbert (1986)Occupational classes and inter-class mobility, In: British Journal of Sociology37(3)pp. 370-391
GN Gilbert (1987)Advice, discourse and explanations, In: Proceedings of the third workshop of the Alvey Explanation SIG Institute of Electrical Engineers
T Balke, N Gilbert (2014)How do agents make decisions? A survey, In: Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation17(4)pp. 1-1 University of Surrey
When designing an agent-based simulation, an important question to answer is how to model the decision making processes of the agents in the system. A large number of agent decision making models can be found in the literature, each inspired by different aims and research questions. In this paper we provide a review of 14 agent decision making architectures that have attracted interest. They range from production-rule systems to psychologically- and neurologically-inspired approaches. For each of the architectures we give an overview of its design, highlight research questions that have been answered with its help and outline the reasons for the choice of the decision making model provided by the originators. Our goal is to provide guidelines about what kind of agent decision making model, with which level of simplicity or complexity, to use for which kind of research question.
GN Gilbert, M Jirotka (1990)Planning procedural advice, In: Interacting with Computers2(3)pp. 313-329
GN Gilbert, C Heath (1986)Text, competence and logic: An exercise, In: Qualitative Sociology9(3)pp. 215-236
Professional medical practice, like other organizational conduct, relies upon records which document transactions between members and their clientele. Medical practitioners employ a set of conventions providing for the systematic recording and interpretation of medical record cards that forms a social organization underlying the records cards' ordinary usage. In this paper we examine these conventions and develop a computer program which captures elements of their structure and use. By doing so we illustrate one way in which sociological analysis can contribute to the design of ‘intelligent systems.’ We also suggest that the emerging discipline of Artificial Intelligence might find recent developments in sociology pertinent to its concerns.
S McGlashan, E Bilange, N Fraser, P Heisterkamp, GN Gilbert (1992)Dialogue Management for Telephone Information Systems
M Jirotka, GN Gilbert, P Luff (1992)On the social organisation of organisations, In: International Journal of Computer Supported Cooperative Work1(1)pp. 95-118
D Anzola, P Barbrook-Johnson, M Salgado, Nigel Gilbert (2017)Sociology and Non-Equilibrium Social Science, In: Non-Equilibrium Social Science and Policy: Introduction and Essays on New and Changing Paradigms in Socio-Economic Thinking(4)pp. 59-69 Springer International Publishing
Abstract This chapter addresses the relationship between sociology and Non- Equilibrium Social Science (NESS). Sociology is a multiparadigmatic discipline with significant disagreement regarding its goals and status as a scientific discipline. Different theories and methods coexist temporally and geographically. However, it has always aimed at identifying the main factors that explain the temporal stability of norms, institutions and individuals’ practices; and the dynamics of institutional change and the conflicts brought about by power relations, economic and cultural inequality and class struggle. Sociologists considered equilibrium could not sufficiently explain the constitutive, maintaining and dissolving dynamics of society as a whole. As a move from the formal apparatus for the study of equilibrium, NESS does not imply a major shift from traditional sociological theory. Complex features have long been articulated in sociological theorization, and sociology embraces the complexity principles of NESS through its growing attention to complex adaptive systems and non-equilibrium sciences, with human societies seen as highly complex, path-dependent, far-from equilibrium, and selforganising systems. In particular, Agent-BasedModelling provides a more coherent inclusion of NESS and complexity principles into sociology. Agent-based sociology uses data and statistics to gauge the ‘generative sufficiency’ of a given microspecification by testing the agreement between ‘real-world’ and computer generated macrostructures.When the model cannot generate the outcome to be explained, the microspecification is not a viable candidate explanation. The separation between the explanatory and pragmatic aspects of social science has led sociologists to be highly critical about the implementation of social science in policy. However, ABM allows systematic exploration of the consequences of modelling assumptions and makes it possible to model much more complex phenomena than previously. ABM has proved particularly useful in representing socio-technical and socio-ecological systems, with the potential to be of use in policy. ABM offers formalized knowledge that can appear familiar to policymakers versed in the methods and language of economics, with the prospect of sociology becoming more influential in policy.
MJ Mulkay, GN Gilbert (1981)Putting Philosophy to Work: Karl Popper's Influence on Scientific Practice, In: Philosophy of the Social Sciences11(3)pp. 389-407
MJ Mulkay, GN Gilbert (1982)Joking Apart: some recommendations concerning the analysis of scientific culture, In: Social Studies of Science12pp. 585-613
P Ahrweiler, A Pyka, N Gilbert (2011)A new model for university-industry links in knowledge-based economies, In: Journal of Product Innovation Management28(2)pp. 218-235 Wiley
In this paper, we apply the agent-based SKIN model (Simulating Knowledge Dynamics in Innovation Networks) to university-industry links. The model builds on empirical research about innovation networks in knowledge-intensive industries with procedures relying on theoretical frameworks of innovation economics and economic sociology. Our experiments compare innovation networks with and without university agents. Results show that having universities in the co-operating population of actors raises the competence level of the whole population, increases the variety of knowledge among the firms, and increases innovation diffusion in terms of quantity and speed. Furthermore, firms interacting with universities are more attractive for other firms when new partnerships are considered. These results can be validated against empirical findings. The simulation confirms that university-industry links improve the conditions for innovation diffusion and enhance collaborative arrangements in innovation networks.
GN Gilbert (1985)Decision support in large organisations, In: Data processing27pp. 28-30
C Elsenbroich, D Anzola, GN Gilbert (2016)Social Dimensions of Organised Crime: Modelling the Dynamics of Extortion Rackets Springer International Publishing AG
This book presents a multi-disciplinary investigation into extortion rackets with a particular focus on the structures of criminal organisations and their collapse, societal processes in which extortion rackets strive and fail and the impacts of bottom-up and top-down ways of fighting extortion racketeering. Through integrating a range of disciplines and methods the book provides an extensive case study of empirically based computational social science. It is based on a wealth of qualitative data regarding multiple extortion rackets, such as the Sicilian Mafia, an international money laundering organisation and a predatory extortion case in Germany. Computational methods are used for data analysis, to help in operationalising data for use in agent-based models and to explore structures and dynamics of extortion racketeering through simulations. In addition to textual data sources, stakeholders and experts are extensively involved, providing narratives for analysis and qualitative validation of models. The book presents a systematic application of computational social science methods to the substantive area of extortion racketeering. The reader will gain a deep understanding of extortion rackets, in particular their entrenchment in society and processes supporting and undermining extortion rackets. Also covered are computational social science methods, in particular computationally assisted text analysis and agent-based modelling, and the integration of empirical, theoretical and computational social science.
Jie Jiang, Riccardo Pozza, Kristrun Gunnarsdottir, Geoffrey Gilbert, Klaus Moessner (2017)Recognising Activities at Home: Digital and Human Sensors, In: Proceedings of ICFNDS ’17, Cambridge, United Kingdom, July 19-20, 2017 ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery
What activities take place at home? When do they occur, for how long do they last and who is involved? Asking such questions is important in social research on households, e.g., to study energyrelated practices, assisted living arrangements and various aspects of family and home life. Common ways of seeking the answers rest on self-reporting which is provoked by researchers (interviews, questionnaires, surveys) or non-provoked (time use diaries). Longitudinal observations are also common, but all of these methods are expensive and time-consuming for both the participants and the researchers. The advances of digital sensors may provide an alternative. For example, temperature, humidity and light sensors report on the physical environment where activities occur, while energy monitors report information on the electrical devices that are used to assist the activities. Using sensor-generated data for the purposes of activity recognition is potentially a very powerful means to study activities at home. However, how can we quantify the agreement between what we detect in sensor-generated data and what we know from self-reported data, especially nonprovoked data? To give a partial answer, we conduct a trial in a household in which we collect data from a suite of sensors, as well as from a time use diary completed by one of the two occupants. For activity recognition using sensor-generated data, we investigate the application of mean shift clustering and change points detection for constructing features that are used to train a Hidden Markov Model. Furthermore, we propose a method for agreement evaluation between the activities detected in the sensor data and that reported by the participants based on the Levenshtein distance. Finally, we analyse the use of different features for recognising different types of activities.
Nigel Gilbert, Paul Stoneman (2015)Researching Social Life: 4th Edition SAGE
N Gilbert (2006)When does social simulation need cognitive models?, In: Cognition and Multi-Agent Interaction: From Cognitive Modeling to Social Simulationpp. 428-432 Cambridge University Press
M Abdou, GN Gilbert (2009)Modelling the emergence and dynamics of social and workplace segregation, In: Mind and Society8(2)pp. 173-191
The relationship between social segregation and workplace segregation has been traditionally studied as a one-way causal relationship mediated by referral hiring. In this paper we introduce an alternative framework which describes the dynamic relationships between social segregation, workplace segregation, individuals’ homophily levels, and referral hiring. An agent-based simulation model was developed based on this framework. The model describes the process of continuous change in composition of workplaces and social networks of agents, and how this process affects levels of workplace segregation and the segregation of social networks of the agents (people). It is concluded that: (1) social segregation and workplace segregation may co-evolve even when hiring of workers occurs mainly through formal channels and the population is initially integrated (2) majority groups tend to be more homophilous than minority groups, and (3) referral hiring may be beneficial for minority groups when the population is highly segregated.
Nigel Gilbert, D Anzola, P Johnson, C Elsenbroich, T Balke, O Dilaver Kalkan (2015)Self-organizing dynamical systems, In: International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences21pp. 529-534 Elsevier
The concept of self-organization in social science is reviewed. In the first two sections, some basic features of self-organizing dynamical systems in general science are presented and the origin of the concept is reconstructed, paying special attention to social science accounts of self-organization. Then, theoretical and methodological considerations regarding the current application of the concept and prospective challenges are examined.
GN Gilbert (1993)SAMP: a survey sampling program, In: Sociology Teaching Handbook British Sociological Association
GN Gilbert (1992)CSCW for real: reflections on experience, In: CSCW in Practice: an Introduction and Case Studiespp. 39-50 Springer-Verlag
A Ankrah, DM Frohlich, GN Gilbert (1990)Two ways to fill a bath, with and without knowing it, In: Proceedings of Interact ’90pp. 73-78 Pitman
SM Peters, GN Gilbert (1997)The electronic alternative: Sociological Research Online, In: Learned Publishing10(4)pp. 339-343
N Fraser, GN Gilbert, C MacDermid (1992)The value of simulation data
C Watts, N Gilbert (2011)Does cumulative advantage affect collective learning in science? An agent-based simulation, In: SCIENTOMETRICS89(1)pp. 437-463 SPRINGER
Agent-based simulation can model simple micro-level mechanisms capable of generating macro-level patterns, such as frequency distributions and network structures found in bibliometric data. Agent-based simulations of organisational learning have provided analogies for collective problem solving by boundedly rational agents employing heuristics. This paper brings these two areas together in one model of knowledge seeking through scientific publication. It describes a computer simulation in which academic papers are generated with authors, references, contents, and an extrinsic value, and must pass through peer review to become published. We demonstrate that the model can fit bibliometric data for a token journal, Research Policy. Different practices for generating authors and references produce different distributions of papers per author and citations per paper, including the scale-free distributions typical of cumulative advantage processes. We also demonstrate the model’s ability to simulate collective learning or problem solving, for which we use Kauffman’s NK fitness landscape. The model provides evidence that those practices leading to cumulative advantage in citations, that is, papers with many citations becoming even more cited, do not improve scientists’ ability to find good solutions to scientific problems, compared to those practices that ignore past citations. By contrast, what does make a difference is referring only to publications that have successfully passed peer review. Citation practice is one of many issues that a simulation model of science can address when the data-rich literature on scientometrics is connected to the analogy-rich literature on organisations and heuristic search.
GN Gilbert (1992)Researching Social Life Sage
S Hassan, L Antunes, N Gilbert (2010)Going back home Social simulation and artificial intelligence, In: COMPUTATIONAL AND MATHEMATICAL ORGANIZATION THEORY16(4)pp. 325-328 SPRINGER
GN Gilbert, MJ Mulkay (1980)Contexts of scientific discourse: social accounting in experimental papers, In: The social process of scientific investigationpp. 269-296 Reidel
GN Gilbert (1995)Policy Instruments for Environmental Regulation, In: The Globe(26)pp. 8-10
N Gilbert (2007)Computational Social Science: Agent-based social simulation, In: Agent-based Modelling and Simulationpp. 115-134 Bardwell
N Fraser, GN Gilbert (1991)Simulating speech systems, In: Computer Speech and Language5pp. 81-99
N Casnici, F Grimaldo, GN Gilbert, F Squazzoni (2016)Attitudes of referees in a multidisciplinary journal: An empirical analysis, In: Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
This paper looks at 10 years of reviews in a multidisciplinary journal, The Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (JASSS), which is the flagship journal of social simulation. We measured referee behavior and referees' agreement. We found that the disciplinary background and the academic status of the referee have an influence on the report time, the type of recommendation and the acceptance of the reviewing task. Referees from the humanities tend to be more generous in their recommendations than other referees, especially economists and environmental scientists. Second, we found that senior researchers are harsher in their judgments than junior researchers, and the latter accept requests to review more often and are faster in reporting. Finally, we found that articles that had been refereed and recommended for publication by a multidisciplinary set of referees were subsequently more likely to receive citations than those that had been reviewed by referees from the same discipline. Our results show that common standards of evaluation can be established even in multidisciplinary communities.
Muffy Calder, Claire Craig, Dave Culley, Richard de Cani, Christl A. Donnelly, Rowan Douglas, Bruce Edmonds, Jonathon Gascoigne, Nigel Gilbert, Caroline Hargrove, Derwen Hinds, David C. Lane, Dervilla Mitchell, Giles Pavey, David Robertson, Bridget Rosewell, Spencer Sherwin, Mark Walport, Alan Wilson (2018)Computational modelling for decision-making: where, why, what, who and how, In: Royal Society Open Science5172096 The Royal Society
In order to deal with an increasingly complex world, we need ever more sophisticated computational models that can help us make decisions wisely and understand the potential consequences of choices. But creating a model requires far more than just raw data and technical skills: it requires a close collaboration between model commissioners, developers, users and reviewers. Good modelling requires its users and commissioners to understand more about the whole process, including the different kinds of purpose a model can have and the different technical bases. This paper offers a guide to the process of commissioning, developing and deploying models across a wide range of domains from public policy to science and engineering. It provides two checklists to help potential modellers, commissioners and users ensure they have considered the most significant factors that will determine success. We conclude there is a need to reinforce modelling as a discipline, so that misconstruction is less likely; to increase understanding of modelling in all domains, so that the misuse of models is reduced; and to bring commissioners closer to modelling, so that the results are more useful.
A Sanfilippo, GN Gilbert, M Greaves (2012)Technosocial predictive analytics for security informatics, In: Security Informatics1(1)8 Springer
GN Gilbert (1992)Writing Sociology, In: Researching social life Sage
GN Gilbert (1996)Simulation as a research strategy, In: Social science microsimulationpp. 448-454 Springer
GN Gilbert (1991)Artificial Societies University of Surrey
DM Frohlich, LP Crossfield, GN Gilbert (1985)Requirements for an intelligent form-filling interface, In: People and computers: designing the interfacepp. 102-117 Cambridge University Press
GN Gilbert (1994)Simulating social dynamics, In: Advances in Statistical Software 4pp. 153-160 Gustav Fischer
N Seel, GN Gilbert, ME Morris (1990)A project-orientated view of CSCW, In: Proceedings of Interact ’90pp. 903-908 Pitman
M Paolucci, R Conte, G Bonelli, D Kossman, M Gross, P Koumoutsakos, A Krause, O Sorkine, D Helbing, P Lukowicz, P Slusallek, P Argyrakis, A Blandford, S Anderson, S de Freitas, B Edmonds, N Gilbert, J Kohlhammer, B-O Linnér, RW Sumner (2012)Towards a living earth simulator, In: European Physical Journal: Special Topics214(1)pp. 77-108
The Living Earth Simulator (LES) is one of the core components of the FuturICT architecture. It will work as a federation of methods, tools, techniques and facilities supporting all of the FuturICT simulation-related activities to allow and encourage interactive exploration and understanding of societal issues. Society-relevant problems will be targeted by leaning on approaches based on complex systems theories and data science in tight interaction with the other components of FuturICT. The LES will evaluate and provide answers to realworld questions by taking into account multiple scenarios. It will build on present approaches such as agent-based simulation and modeling, multiscale modelling, statistical inference, and data mining, moving beyond disciplinary borders to achieve a new perspective on complex social systems. © The Author(s) 2012.
P Luff, D Frohlich, GN Gilbert (1990)Computers and conversation Academic Press
In the past few years a branch of sociology, conversation analysis, has begun to have a significant impact on the design of human*b1computer interaction (HCI). The investigation of human*b1human dialogue has emerged as a fruitful foundation for interactive system design.****This book includes eleven original chapters by leading researchers who are applying conversation analysis to HCI. The fundamentals of conversation analysis are outlined, a number of systems are described, and a critical view of their value for HCI is offered.****Computers and Conversation will be of interest to all concerned with HCI issues--from the advanced student to the professional computer scientist involved in the design and specification of interactive systems.
C Roth, D Taraborelli, N Gilbert (2011)Symposium on "Collective representations of quality", In: Mind and Society10(2)pp. 165-168 Springer Verlag
Collective representations of the quality of artifacts are produced by human societies in a variety of contexts. These representations of quality emerge from a broad range of social interactions, from the uncoordinated behaviour of large collectives of individuals, to the interaction between individuals and organizations, to complex socio-technical processes such as those enabled by online peer production systems. This special issue brings together contributions from sociology, social psychology and social simulation to shed light on the nature of these representations and the social processes that produce them.
GN Gilbert (1995)Using computer simulation to study social phenomena, In: Bulletin de Methodologie Sociologique(47)pp. 99-111
A Lorincz, GN Gilbert, R Goolsby (2007)Social network analysis: Measuring tools, structures and dynamics, In: Physica a-Statistical Mechanics and Its Applications378(1)pp. XI-XIII
S Harding, GN Gilbert (1993)Negotiating the take up of Formal Methods, In: Social Dimensions of Systems Engineering: People, Processes, Policies and Software Development Ellis Horwood
P Ahrweiler, M Schilperoord, A Pyka, GN Gilbert (2015)Modelling Research Policy: Ex-Ante Evaluation of Complex Policy Instruments, In: Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation18(4)pp. 5-5
This paper presents the agent-based model INFSO-SKIN, which provides ex-ante evaluation of possible funding policies in Horizon 2020 for the European Commission’s DG Information Society and Media (DG INFSO). Informed by a large dataset recording the details of funded projects, the simulation model is set up to reproduce and assess the funding strategies, the funded organisations and projects, and the resulting network structures of the Commission’s Framework 7 (FP7) programme. To address the evaluative questions of DG INFSO, this model, extrapolated into the future without any policy changes, is taken as an evidence-based benchmark for further experiments. Against this baseline scenario the following example policy changes are tested: (i) What if there were changes to the thematic scope of the programme? (ii) What if there were changes to the instruments of funding? (iii) What if there were changes to the overall amount of programme funding? (iv) What if there were changes to increase Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) participation? The results of these simulation experiments reveal some likely scenarios as policy options for Horizon 2020. The paper thus demonstrates that realistic modelling with a close data-to-model link can directly provide policy advice.
G Deffuant, I Alvarez, O Barreteau, F Jabot, C Rougé, B de Vries, B Edmonds, N Gilbert, N Gotts, S Janssen, M Hilden, O Kolditz, D Murray-Rust, P Smits (2012)Data and models for exploring sustainability of human well-being in global environmental change, In: European Physical Journal: Special Topics214(1)pp. 519-545 Springer Verlag
This position paper proposes a vision for the research activity about sustainability in global environmental change (GEC) taking place in the FuturICT flagship project. This activity will be organised in an "Exploratory", gathering a core network of European scientists from ICT, social simulation, complex systems, economics, demographics, Earth system science. These research teams will collaborate in building a self-organising network of data sources and models about GEC and in using new facilities fostering stakeholder participation. We develop examples of concrete directions for this research: world wide virtual population with demographic and some economic descriptors, ecosystem services production and distribution, governance systems at various scales. © EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag 2012.
B Hewitt, GN Gilbert (1992)Group interfaces, In: CSCW in Practice: an Introduction and Case Studiespp. 31-38 Springer-Verlag
Robin N. Thompson, T. Déirdre Hollingsworth, Valerie Isham, Daniel Arribas-Bel, Ben Ashby, Tom Britton, Peter Challenor, Lauren H. K. Chappell, Hannah Clapham, Nik J. Cunniffe, A. Philip Dawid, Christl A. Donnelly, Rosalind M. Eggo, Sebastian Funk, Nigel Gilbert, Paul Glendinning, Julia R. Gog, William S. Hart, Hans Heesterbeek, Thomas House, Matt Keeling, István Z. Kiss, Mirjam E. Kretzschmar, Alun L. Lloyd, Emma S. McBryde, James M. McCaw, Trevelyan J. McKinley, Joel C. Miller, Martina Morris, Philip D. O'Neill, Kris V. Parag, Carl A. B. Pearson, Lorenzo Pellis, Juliet R. C. Pulliam, Joshua V. Ross, Gianpaolo Scalia Tomba, Bernard W. Silverman, Claudio J. Struchiner, Michael J. Tildesley, Pieter Trapman, Cerian R. Webb, Denis Mollison, Olivier Restif (2020)Key questions for modelling COVID-19 exit strategies, In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences287(1932)20201405 The Royal Society
Combinations of intense non-pharmaceutical interventions (lockdowns) were introduced worldwide to reduce SARSCoV- 2 transmission. Many governments have begun to implement exit strategies that relax restrictions while attempting to control the risk of a surge in cases. Mathematical modelling has played a central role in guiding interventions, but the challenge of designing optimal exit strategies in the face of ongoing transmission is unprecedented. Here, we report discussions from the Isaac Newton Institute ‘Models for an exit strategy’ workshop (11–15 May 2020). A diverse community of modellers who are providing evidence to governments worldwide were asked to identify the main questions that, if answered, would allow for more accurate predictions of the effects of different exit strategies. Based on these questions, we propose a roadmap to facilitate the development of reliable models to guide exit strategies. This roadmap requires a global collaborative effort from the scientific community and policymakers, and has three parts: (i) improve estimation of key epidemiological parameters; (ii) understand sources of heterogeneity in populations; and (iii) focus on requirements for data collection, particularly in low-tomiddle-income countries. This will provide important information for planning exit strategies that balance socioeconomic benefits with public health.
Petra Ahrweiler, Nigel Gilbert, Benjamin Schrempf, Barbara Grimpe, Marina Jirotka (2018)The role of civil society organisations in European responsible research and innovation, In: Journal of Responsible Innovation6(1)pp. 25-49 Taylor & Francis
EC policy reveals a strong conviction that CSO’s main function in EU-funded research and innovation projects is to take care of the ‘societal perspective’, which would not be adequately represented otherwise. With this, CSOs are supposed to be the main advocates of RRI in project consortia and are supported by all kinds of EC policy measures to fulfil this role. This conviction is not only problematic due to definition problems concerning CSO as such. Empirical data about the role of CSOs in high-tech/high-innovation research projects and the distribution of RRI activities among consortia members reveal that the role of CSOs is much more multi-faceted (data providers, providers of access to the research field, providers of specific domain expertise etc.) than currently assumed. Furthermore, RRI policies of the EC have managed to sensitise all other actors in consortia to the societal perspective: universities and companies are likewise active to promote and realise RRI perspectives in project consortia with CSO not really standing out among them. These findings have at least two interesting implications: (1) CSOs have far more to offer than being just the ‘moral voice’ of society in research and innovation; their contribution is multi-faceted and beneficial in many respects. (2) The RRI policy of the EC is even more successful than expected: it is not just one actor type that is supposed to introduce RRI keys and elements in consortia; we can observe something like RRI diffusion among different types of consortia members with all of them active in supporting RRI perspectives in their research work.
Petra Ahrweiler, Nigel Gilbert, Andreas Pyka (2006)Institutions matter but... Organisational alignment in knowledge-based industries, In: Science, Technology & Innovation Studies2pp. 39-58

A comparison of the current structures and dynamics of UK and German biotech- nology-based industries reveals a striking convergence of industrial organisations and innovation directions in both countries. This counteracts propositions from theoretical frameworks such as the varieties-of-capitalism hypothesis and the na- tional innovation systems approach which suggest substantial differences between the industrial structures of the countries due to differing institutional frameworks. In this paper, we question these approaches and show that the observed structural alignment can be explained by the network organisation of research and produc- tion in knowledge-based industries.

Chris Goldspink, Bruce Edmonds, Nigel Gilbert (2008)Normative Behaviour in Wikipedia

This paper contributes to the debate about governance behaviour in on-line communities, particularly those associated with Open Source. It addresses evidence of normative self- regulation by analysing the discussion pages of a sample of Wikipedia Controversial and Featured articles. It was assumed that attempts by editors to influence one another within these pages will be revealed by their use of rules and norms as well as the illocutionary force of speech acts. The results reveal some unexpected patterns. Despite the Wikipedia community generating a large number of rules, etiquettes and guidelines, explicit invocation of rules and/or use of wider social norms appeared to play a small role in regulating editor behaviour. The emergent pattern of communicative exchange was not well aligned either with these rules or with the characteristics of a coherent community. Nor was it consistent with the behaviour needed to reach agreement on controversial topics. The paper concludes by offering some tentative hypotheses as to why this is so.

M Xenitidou, N Gilbert (2012)Introduction to the Special Issue: The Processes of Methodological Innovation Narrative Accounts and Reflections, In: Methodological Innovations Online7(1)pp. 1-6 ESDS
C Elsenbroich, N Gilbert (2013)Modelling Norms Springer
The book focusses on questions of individual and collective action, the emergence and dynamics of social norms and the feedback between individual behaviour and social phenomena. It discusses traditional modelling approaches to social norms and shows the usefulness of agent-based modelling for the study of these micro-macro interactions. Existing agent-based models of social norms are discussed and it is shown that so far too much priority has been given to parsimonious models and questions of the emergence of norms, with many aspects of social norms, such as norm-change, not being modelled. Juvenile delinquency, group radicalisation and moral decision making are used as case studies for agent-based models of collective action extending existing models by providing an embedding into social networks, social influence via argumentation and a causal action theory of moral decision making. The major contribution of the book is to highlight the multifaceted nature of the dynamics of social norms, consisting not only of emergence, and the importance of embedding of agent-based models into existing theory.
A class of social phenomena, exhibiting fluid boundaries and constant change, called 'collectivities,' is modeled using an agent-based simulation, demonstrating how such models can show that a set of plausible microbehaviors can yield the observed macrophenomenon. Some features of the model are explored and its application to a wide range of social phenomena is described.
GN Gilbert, S Arber, A Dale (1980)SPSS and the General Household Survey, In: SSRC Survey Archive BulletinMaypp. 1-?
GN Gilbert (1983)In search of the action, In: Accounts and Actionpp. 8-34 Gower
GN Gilbert, S Arber, A Dale (1981)Conversion of GHS into SPSS compatible files, 1973-1976, In: SSRC Survey Archive Bulletin(20)pp. 1-2
GN Gilbert (1977)Growth and decline of a scientific specialty: The case of radar meteor research, In: EOS, Transactions Amercian Geophysical Union58(5)pp. 273-277
This article traces the rise and eventual decline of a field of research devoted to the study of meteors by radar. It shows how a new experimental tool, radar, provided the impetus for the emergence of a new scientific specialty, and how this specialty later declined after its initial problems had been solved and after most of its participants had moved on to more promising fields. Radar meteor research provides an example of how new fields grow and how scientific developments affect the research careers of scientists.
P Ahrweiler, A Pyka, Nigel Gilbert (2015)Policy Modelling of Large-Scale Social Systems: Lessons from the SKIN model of Innovation, In: Governance in the Information Era: Theory and Practice of Policy Informatics(13)pp. 229-246 Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
N Casnici, F Grimaldo, P Dondio, Geoffrey Gilbert, F Squazzoni (2017)Assessing peer review by gauging the fate of rejected manuscripts. The case of the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, In: Scientometrics: an international journal for all quantitative aspects of the science of science, communication in science and science policy113(1)pp. 533-546 Springer Verlag
This paper investigates the fate of manuscripts that were rejected from JASSS-The Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, the flagship journal of social simulation. We tracked 456 manuscripts that were rejected from 1997 to 2011 and traced their subsequent publication as journal articles, conference papers or working papers. We compared the impact factor of the publishing journal and the citations of those manuscripts that were eventually published against the yearly impact factor of JASSS and the number of citations achieved by the JASSS mean and top cited articles. Only 10% of the rejected manuscripts were eventually published in a journal that was indexed in the Web of Science (WoS), although most of the rejected manuscripts were published elsewhere. Being exposed to more than one round of reviews before rejection, having received a more detailed reviewer report and being subjected to higher inter-reviewer disagreement were all associated with the number of citations received when the manuscript was eventually published. This indicates that peer review could contribute to increasing the quality even of rejected manuscripts.
GN Gilbert (1989)Explanation as process, In: Proceedings of the fourth workshop of the Alvey Explanation SIG Institute of Electrical Engineers
GN Gilbert (1996)Environments and languages to support social simulation, In: Social science microsimulationpp. 457-459 Springer
GN Gilbert, A Pyka, P Ahrweiler (2001)Innovation Networks - A Simulation Approach, In: Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation4(3)
A multi-agent simulation embodying a theory of innovation networks has been built and used to suggest a number of policy-relevant conclusions. The simulation animates a model of innovation (the successful exploitation of new ideas) and this model is briefly described. Agents in the model representing firms, policy actors, research labs, etc. each have a knowledge base that they use to generate ‘artefacts’ that they hope will be innovations. The success of the artefacts is judged by an oracle that evaluates each artefact using a criterion that is not available to the agents. Agents are able to follow strategies to improve their artefacts either on their own (through incremental improvement or by radical changes), or by seeking partners to contribute additional knowledge. It is shown though experiments with the model's parameters that it is possible to reproduce qualitatively the characteristics of innovation networks in two sectors: personal and mobile communications and biotechnology.
L Hamill, N Gilbert (2015)Agent-Based Modelling in Economics John Wiley & Sons
New methods of economic modelling have been sought as a result of the global economic downturn in 2008. This unique book highlights the benefits of an agent-based modelling (ABM) approach. It demonstrates how ABM can easily handle complexity: heterogeneous people, households and firms interacting dynamically. Unlike traditional methods, ABM does not require people or firms to optimise or economic systems to reach equilibrium. ABM offers a way to link micro foundations directly to the macro situation. Key features: • Introduces the concept of agent-based modelling and shows how it differs from existing approaches. • Provides a theoretical and methodological rationale for using ABM in economics, along with practical advice on how to design and create the models. • Starts each chapter with a short summary of the relevant economic theory and then shows how to apply ABM. • Explores both topics covered in basic economics textbooks and current important policy themes; unemployment, exchange rates, banking and environmental issues. • Describes the models in pseudocode, enabling the reader to develop programs in their chosen language. • Is supported by a website featuring the NetLogo models described in the book. Agent-based Modelling in Economics provides students and researchers with the skills to design, implement, and analyze agent-based models. Third year undergraduate, master and doctoral students, faculty and professional economists will find this book an invaluable resource.
The TELL ME simulation model is being developed to assist health authorities to understand the effects of their choices about how to communicate with citizens about protecting themselves from influenza epidemics. It will include an agent based model to simulate personal decisions to seek vaccination or adopt behaviour such as improved hand hygiene. This paper focusses on the design of the agents' decisions, using a combination of personal attitude, average local attitude, the local number of influenza cases and the case fatality rate. It also describes how personal decision making is connected to other parts of the model.
GN Gilbert (1996)Holism, individualism and emergent properties: an approach from the perspective of simulation, In: Modelling and simulation in the social sciences from the philosophy of science point of viewpp. 1-12 Kluwer
GN Gilbert (1989)Explanation and dialogue, In: Knowledge Engineering Review4pp. 235-247
GN Gilbert, S Arber, A Dale (1983)Access to social science data in schools, In: Computers and Education7pp. 135-139
GN Gilbert (1977)Referencing as persuasion, In: Social Studies of Science7pp. 113-122
GN Gilbert (1980)Being interviewed: a rôle analysis, In: Social Science Information19pp. 227-236.
GN Gilbert, P Abell (1983)Accounts and action Gower
GN Gilbert (1990)Complex systems, ethnomethodology and interaction analysis American Association for Artificial Intelligence
GN Gilbert (1990)Claimant Information Systems, In: Knowledge based systems and legal applicationspp. 183-198 Academic
Christopher Watts, Nigel Gilbert (2011)Does cumulative advantage affect collective learning in science? An agent-based simulation, In: Scientometricspp. 1-27 Kluwer
Agent-based simulation can model simple micro-level mechanisms capable of generating macro-level patterns, such as frequency distributions and network structures found in bibliometric data. Agent-based simulations of organisational learning have provided analogies for collective problem solving by boundedly rational agents employing heuristics. This paper brings these two areas together in one model of knowledge seeking through scientific publication. It describes a computer simulation in which academic papers are generated with authors, references, contents, and an extrinsic value, and must pass through peer review to become published. We demonstrate that the model can fit bibliometric data for a token journal, Research Policy. Different practices for generating authors and references produce different distributions of papers per author and citations per paper, including the scale-free distributions typical of cumulative advantage processes. We also demonstrate the model’s ability to simulate collective learning or problem solving, for which we use Kauffman’s NK fitness landscape. The model provides evidence that those practices leading to cumulative advantage in citations, that is, papers with many citations becoming even more cited, do not improve scientists’ ability to find good solutions to scientific problems, compared to those practices that ignore past citations. By contrast, what does make a difference is referring only to publications that have successfully passed peer review. Citation practice is one of many issues that a simulation model of science can address when the data-rich literature on scientometrics is connected to the analogy-rich literature on organisations and heuristic search.
GN Gilbert (1978)Measuring the growth of science - A review of indicators of scientific growth, In: Scientometrics: an international journal for all quantitative aspects of the science of science, communication in science and science policy1(1)pp. 9-34
A number of indicators of the growth of science are critically reviewed to asses their strengths and weaknesses. The focus is on the problems involved in measuring two aspects of scientific growth, growth in manpower and growth in knowledge. It is shown that the design of better indicators depends on careful consideration of the theoretical framework within which the indicators are intended to be used. Recent advances in the sociology of science suggest ways in which the validity of existing indicators may be assessed and improved.
J Doran, GN Gilbert (1994)Simulating societies: an introduction, In: Simulating Societies: the computer simulation of social phenomena UCL Press
J Doran, M Palmer, GN Gilbert, P Mellars (1994)The EOS Project: modelling Upper Palaeolithic social change, In: Simulating Societies: the computer simulation of social phenomena UCL Press
GN Gilbert (1977)Competition, differentiation and careers in science, In: Social Science Information16pp. 103-123
GN Gilbert (1990)Support for members of the public, In: Knowledge based systems and legal applicationspp. 115-128 Academic
GN Gilbert, S Buckland, D Frohlich, M Jirotka, P Luff (1990)Providing advice through dialoguepp. 301-307
GN Gilbert (1988)Using computers in teaching sociology, In: ESRC Data Archive Bulletin(40)pp. S2-S3
GN Gilbert (1996)Using Environmental Impact Assessments in the planning process Global Environmental Change Programme
GN Gilbert (1977)SAMP: a computer program for teaching survey sampling Distributed by CONDUIT, University of Iowa.
GN Gilbert, S Arber, A Dale, J O’Byrne (1984)Surrey GHS data sets, In: ESRC Data Archive Bulletin(27)pp. 5-6
Peter Barbrook-Johnson, J Badham, Geoffrey Gilbert (2016)Uses of agent-based modeling for health communication: The TELL ME case study, In: Health Communication32(8)pp. 939-944 Taylor & Francis
Government communication is an important management tool during a public health crisis, but understanding its impact is difficult. Strategies may be adjusted in reaction to developments on the ground and it is challenging to evaluate the impact of communication separately from other crisis management activities. Agent-based modeling is a well-established research tool in social science to respond to similar challenges. However, there have been few such models in public health. We use the example of the TELL ME agent-based model to consider ways in which a non-predictive policy model can assist policy makers. This model concerns individuals’ protective behaviors in response to an epidemic, and the communication that influences such behavior. Drawing on findings from stakeholder workshops and the results of the model itself, we suggest such a model can be useful: (i) as a teaching tool, (ii) to test theory, and (iii) to inform data collection. We also plot a path for development of similar models that could assist with communication planning for epidemics.
GN Gilbert (1987)Question and answer types, In: Research and development in expert systems IVpp. 162-172 Cambridge University Press
GN Gilbert (1990)Sundial Dialogue Manager Functional Specification Logica (Cambridge) Ltd
GN Gilbert (1978)A simulation approach to teaching survey sampling, In: Teaching Sociology5pp. 287-293.
GN Gilbert (1988)Forms of explanationpp. 72-75
Nigel Gilbert, P Ahrweiler (2015)The Quality of Social Simulation: an Example from Research Policy Modelling, In: Policy Practice and Digital Science – Integrating Complex Systems, Social Simulation and Public Administration in Policy Research10pp. 35-55 Springer Internatinal Publishing
This contribution deals with the assessment of the quality of a simulation. The first section points out the problems of the Standard View and the Constructivist View in evaluating social simulations. A simulation is good when we get from it what we originally would have liked to get from the target; in this, the evaluation of the simulation is guided by the expectations, anticipations and experience of the community that uses it. This makes the user community view the most promising mechanism to assess the quality of a policy modelling exercise. The second section looks at a concrete policy modelling example to test this idea. It shows that the very first negotiation and discussion with the user community to identify their questions is highly user-driven, interactive, and iterative. It requires communicative skills, patience, willingness to compromise on both sides, and motivation to make the formal world of modellers and the narrative world of practical policymaking meet. Often, the user community is involved in providing data for calibrating the model. It is not an easy issue to confirm the existence, quality and availability of data and check for formats and database requirements. As the quality of the simulation in the eyes of the user will very much depend on the quality of the informing data and the quality of the model calibration, much time and effort need to be spent in coordinating this issue with the user community. Last but not least, the user community has to check the validity of simulation results and has to believe in their quality. Users have to be enabled to understand the model, to agree with its processes and ways to produce results, to judge similarity between empirical and simulated data etc. Although the User Community view might be the most promising, it is the most work-intensive mechanism to assess the quality of a simulation. Summarising, to trust the quality of a simulation means to trust the process that produced its results. This process includes not only the design and construction of the simulation model itself, but also the whole interaction between stakeholders, study team, model, and findings.
GN Gilbert (1988)The Alvey DHSS Demonstrator Project: applying IKBS to social security, In: Artificial Intelligence: perspectives of AI as a social technology Tano
GN Gilbert (1983)Accounts and those accounts called actions, In: Accounts and Actionpp. 183-187 Gower
GN Gilbert, R Wooffitt (1994)Sociology in machines: applying sociology to software design, In: Social perspectives on software design MIT Press
Nigel Gilbert, Klaus G. Troitzsch (2005)Chapter 2: Simulation as a Method, In: Simulation for the Social Scientist Open University Press
Christopher J. Watts, Nigel Gilbert, Duncan Robertson, Laurence T. Droy, Daniel Ladley, Edmund Chattoe-Brown The role of population scale in compartmental models of COVID-19 transmission, In: Review of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation
Compartmental models of COVID-19 transmission have been used to inform policy, including the decision to temporarily reduce social contacts among the general population (“lockdown”). One such model is a Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Removed (SEIR) model developed by a team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (hereafter, “the LSHTM model”, Davies et al., 2020a). This was used to evaluate the impact of several proposed interventions on the numbers of cases, deaths, and intensive care unit (ICU) hospital beds required in the UK. We wish here to draw attention to behaviour common to this and other compartmental models of diffusion, namely their sensitivity to the size of the population simulated and the number of seed infections within that population. This sensitivity may compromise any policy advice given. We therefore describe below the essential details of the LSHTM model, our experiments on its sensitivity, and why they matter to its use in policy making.
C Roth, D Taraborelli, GN Gilbert (2008)Démographie des communautés en ligne: le cas des wikis, In: Réseaux26(152)pp. 205-240
Les communautés eén ligne collaboratives ont connu un succés massif avec l’émergence des services et des plates-formes Web 2.0. Les wikis, et notamment la Wikipedia sont un des exemples les plus saillants de ce type de communautés de construction collective de contenus. La Wikipedia a á cet égard jusqu’ici concentré l’essentiel des efforts de recherche au sujet de ces communautés, même si l’ensemble des wikis constitue un écosystème possédant une très grande diversité de contenus, de populations, d’usages, de systèmes de gouvernance. Au contraire de la Wikipedia qui a probablement atteint la masse critique lui permettant d’être viable, la plupart des wikis luttent pour survivre et sont en compétition afin d’attirer contributeurs et articles de qualit é, connaissant ainsi des destinées variées, vertueuses – croissance en population et en contenu – ou fatales – inactivité et vandalisme.
Geoffrey Gilbert, P Ahrweiler, A Pyka (2010)Learning in innovation networks: Some simulation experiments, In: Innovation in Complex Social Systems(16)pp. 235-249 Routledge, Taylor & Francis
According to the organizational learning literature, the greatest competitive advantage a firm has is its ability to learn. In this paper, a framework for modeling learning competence in firms is presented to improve the understanding of managing innovation. Firms with different knowledge stocks attempt to improve their economic performance by engaging in radical or incremental innovation activities and through partnerships and networking with other firms. In trying to vary and/or to stabilize their knowledge stocks by organizational learning, they attempt to adapt to environmental requirements while the market strongly selects on the results. The simulation experiments show the impact of different learning activities, underlining the importance of innovation and learning. This chapter is a reprint of an article published as Gilbert, GN, Ahrweiler, P. & Pyka, A. (2007). Learning in innovation networks: Some simulation experiments. Physica A, 378 (1): 100–109 DOI:10.1016/j.physa.2006.11.050. Available online at:
KG Troitzsch, U Mueller, GN Gilbert, JE Doran (1996)Social science microsimulation Springer
Jennifer Badham, Edmund Chattoe-Brown, Nigel Gilbert, Zaid Chalabi, Frank Kee, Ruth F Hunter (2018)Developing Agent-Based Models of Complex Health Behaviour, In: Health and Place54pp. 170-177 Elsevier
Managing non-communicable diseases requires policy makers to adopt a whole systems perspective that adequately represents the complex causal architecture of human behaviour. Agent-based modelling is a computational method to un- derstand the behaviour of complex systems by simulating the actions of entities within the system, including the way these individuals in uence and are in u- enced by their physical and social environment. The potential benefits of this method have led to several calls for greater use in public health research. We discuss three challenges facing potential modellers: model specification, obtain- ing required data, and developing good practices. We also present steps to assist researchers to meet these challenges and implement their agent-based model.
DA Kolkman, P Campo, T Balke-Visser, Geoffrey Gilbert (2016)How to build models for government: criteria driving model acceptance in policymaking, In: Policy Sciences49(4)pp. 489-504 Springer
Models are used to inform policymaking and underpin large amounts of government expenditure. Several authors have observed a discrepancy between the actual and potential use of models in government. While there have been several studies investigating model acceptance in government, it remains unclear under what conditions models are accepted. In this paper, we address the question ‘‘What criteria affect model acceptance in policymaking?’’, the answer to which will contribute to the wider understanding of model use in government. We employ a thematic coding approach to identify the acceptance criteria for the eight models in our sample. Subsequently, we compare our findings with existing literature and use qualitative comparative analysis to explore what configurations of the criteria are observed in instances of model acceptance. We conclude that model acceptance is affected by a combination of the model’s characteristics, the supporting infrastructure and organizational factors.

None of the standard network models fit well with sociological theory. This paper presents a simple agent-based model of social networks that have fat-tailed distributions of connectivity, that are assortative by degree of connectivity, that are highly clustered and that can be used to create a large variety of social worlds.

GN Gilbert, S Woolgar (1974)The quantitative study of science, In: Science Studies4pp. 279-294
GN Gilbert, P Luff, L Crossfield, DM Frohlich (1987)A mixed initiative interface for expert systems: the Forms Helper
Geoffrey Gilbert, P Ahrweiler, A Pyka (2007)Learning in innovation networks: Some simulation experiments, In: Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications378(1)pp. 100-109
According to the organizational learning literature, the greatest competitive advantage a firm has is its ability to learn. In this paper, a framework for modeling learning competence in firms is presented to improve the understanding of managing innovation. Firms with different knowledge stocks attempt to improve their economic performance by engaging in radical or incremental innovation activities and through partnerships and networking with other firms. In trying to vary and/or to stabilize their knowledge stocks by organizational learning, they attempt to adapt to environmental requirements while the market strongly selects on the results. The simulation experiments show the impact of different learning activities, underlining the importance of innovation and learning. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Pierpaolo Dondio, Niccolò Casnici, Francisco Grimaldo, Nigel Gilbert, Flaminio Squazzoni (2019)The “invisible hand” of peer review: The implications of author-referee networks on peer review in a scholarly journal, In: Journal of Informetrics13(2)pp. 708-716 Elsevier
Peer review is not only a quality screening mechanism for scholarly journals. It also connects authors and referees either directly or indirectly. This means that their positions in the network structure of the community could influence the process, while peer review could in turn influence subsequent networking and collaboration. This paper aims to map these complex network implications by looking at 2232 author/referee couples in an interdisciplinary journal that uses double blind peer review. By reconstructing temporal co-authorship networks, we found that referees tended to recommend more positively submissions by authors who were within three steps in their collaboration network. We also found that co-authorship network positions changed after peer review, with the distances between network neighbours decreasing more rapidly than could have been expected had the changes been random. This suggests that peer review could not only reflect but also create and accelerate scientific collaboration.
GN Gilbert, M Mulkay (1984)Opening Pandora’s Box: a sociological analysis of scientists' discourse Cambridge University Press
C Watts, N Gilbert (2014)Simulating innovation: Comparing models of collective knowledge, technological evolution and emergent innovation networks, In: Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing229 AIpp. 189-200
Computer simulation models have been proposed as a tool for understanding innovation, including models of organisational learning, technological evolution, knowledge dynamics and the emergence of innovation networks. By representing micro-level interactions they provide insight into the mechanisms by which are generated various stylised facts about innovation phenomena. This paper summarises work carried out as part of the SIMIAN project and to be covered in more detail in a forthcoming book. A critical review of existing innovation- related models is performed. Models compared include a model of collective learning in networks [1], a model of technological evolution based around percolation on a grid [2, 3], a model of technological evolution that uses Boolean logic gate designs [4], the SKIN model [5], a model of emergent innovation networks [6], and the hypercycles model of economic production [7]. The models are compared for the ways they represent knowledge and/or technologies, how novelty enters the system, the degree to which they represent open-ended systems, their use of networks, landscapes and other pre-defined structures, and the patterns that emerge from their operations, including networks and scale-free frequency distributions. Suggestions are then made as to what features future innovation models might contain. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014.
E Chattoe, N Gilbert (2001)Understanding consumption: What interviews with retired households can reveal about budgetary decisions, In: SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH ONLINE6(3)pp. U81-U97 SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
R Burrows, GN Gilbert, A Pollert (1991)Fordism and flexibility: divisions and change Macmillan
S Hassan, L Antunes, J Pavon, GN Gilbert Stepping on Earth: A Roadmap for Data-driven Agent-Based Modelling., In: Proceedings of the 5th Conference of the European Social Simulation Association (ESSA08).
S Hassan, J Pavon, L Antunes, GN Gilbert (2010)Injecting Data into Agent-Based Simulation., In: Simulating Interacting Agents and Social Phenomenapp. 173-185 Springer-Verlag New York Inc
Agent-based modeling and social simulation have emerged as both developments of and challenges to the social sciences.
Jie Jiang, Riccardo Pozza, Kristrun Gunnarsdottir, Geoffrey Gilbert, Klaus Moessner (2017)Using Sensors to Study Home Activities, In: Journal of Sensor and Actuator Networks6(4) MDPI
Understanding home activities is important in social research to study aspects of home life, e.g., energy-related practices and assisted living arrangements. Common approaches to identifying which activities are being carried out in the home rely on self-reporting, either retrospectively (e.g., interviews, questionnaires, and surveys) or at the time of the activity (e.g., time use diaries). The use of digital sensors may provide an alternative means of observing activities in the home. For example, temperature, humidity and light sensors can report on the physical environment where activities occur, while energy monitors can report information on the electrical devices that are used to assist the activities. One may then be able to infer from the sensor data which activities are taking place. However, it is first necessary to calibrate the sensor data by matching it to activities identified from self-reports. The calibration involves identifying the features in the sensor data that correlate best with the self-reported activities. This in turn requires a good measure of the agreement between the activities detected from sensor-generated data and those recorded in self-reported data. To illustrate how this can be done, we conducted a trial in three single-occupancy households from which we collected data from a suite of sensors and from time use diaries completed by the occupants. For sensor-based activity recognition, we demonstrate the application of Hidden Markov Models with features extracted from mean-shift clustering and change points analysis. A correlation-based feature selection is also applied to reduce the computational cost. A method based on Levenshtein distance for measuring the agreement between the activities detected in the sensor data and that reported by the participants is demonstrated. We then discuss how the features derived from sensor data can be used in activity recognition and how they relate to activities recorded in time use diaries.
GN Gilbert, TI Maude, NO Heaton, PA Wilson, CJ Marshall (1984)An experiment in group working on mailbox systems, In: Interact ’84 IFIP conference on Human-Computer Interactionpp. 396-400 North-Holland
M López-Sánchez, X Noria, JA Rodríguez, N Gilbert (2005)Multi-Agent Based Simulation of News Digital Markets, In: International Journal of Computer Science & Applications2(1)pp. 7-14
GN Gilbert (2000)Book Review of The computational beauty of nature: Computer explorations of fractals, chaos, complex systems and adaptation. Gary William Flake, In: JASSS-THE JOURNAL OF ARTIFICIAL SOCIETIES AND SOCIAL SIMULATION3(1)pp. 119-120 J A S S S
R Burrows, GN Gilbert, A Pollert (1991)Fordism and flexibility, In: Fordism and flexibility: divisions and change Macmillan
L Hamill, Geoffrey Gilbert (2009)Social circles: a simple structure for agent-based social network models, In: Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation12(2) SimSoc Consortium
None of the standard network models fit well with sociological observations of real social networks. This paper presents a simple structure for use in agent-based models of large social networks. Taking the idea of social circles, it incorporates key aspects of large social networks such as low density, high clustering and assortativity of degree of connectivity. The model is very flexible and can be used to create a wide variety of artificial social worlds.

This paper reports the results of a multi-agent simulation designed to study the emergence and evolution of symbolic communica- tion. The novelty of this model is that it considers some interactional and spatial constraints to this process that have been disregarded by previous research. The model is used to give an account of the impli- cations of differences in the agents’ behaviour, which are embodied in a spatial environment. Two communicational dimensions are identified and four types of communication strategies are simultaneously tested. We use the model to point out some interesting emergent communica- tional properties when the agents’ behaviour is altered by considering those two dimensions.

S Buckland, ES Cordingley, DM Frolich, GN Gilbert, P Luff (1987)Initial requirements specification for the Advice System University of Surrey
D.A. Kolkman (2016)Models in policy making.
This thesis inquires into how models are used to inform policy making and what makes models useful to those informing policy. A model is considered a formal representation of a target system that can be used to answer questions about that target system. Moreover, it is defined as the computer implementation of a mental model or conceptual model, written in algorithms or equations. This research draws on insights from existing literature on policy making, policy analysis, models and model use, which are then used to develop an analytical framework founded on science and technology studies. This framework is employed to guide an empirical investigation of models that have been used to inform policy making. Fieldwork was conducted over a period of two years at government departments, private companies and research institutes in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. This fieldwork consisted of 38 interviews with model users, observations of model use and archival research. The data were analysed using a thematic coding approach centered on the identification of practices, intra-case and inter-case comparison. It is shown that there are similarities in how models are used and made useful by their users. More specifically, users engage in activities to (1) determine the scope of the model, (2) improve its credibility, (3) make it transparent, and (4) make it relevant. The original contribution to knowledge of this thesis consists of an in-depth description of the social context of model use and the four sets of model use practices. Moreover, it presents an analysis of how model use is facilitated and constrained by the (inter)-organisational structure of use, by model user roles, and model user communities. The thesis concludes that the usefulness of models cannot be understood in isolation from the social context; those developing models for policy would do well to consider it.
The thesis is a collection of six stand-alone chapters aimed at setting the foundations for the philosophy of computational social science. Agent-based modelling has been used for social research since the nineties. While at the beginning it was simply conceived as a methodological alternative, recently, the notion of ‘computational social science’ has started to be used to denote a separate disciplinary field. There are important differences with mainstream social science and traditional social research. Yet, the literature in the field has not accounted for these differences. Computational social science is a strongly practice-oriented field, where theoretical and philosophical concerns have been pushed into the background. This thesis presents an initial analysis of the methodology, epistemology and ontology of computational social science, by examining the following topics: 1) verification and validation and 2) modelling and theorising, 3) mechanisms 4) explanation 5) agency, action and interaction and 6) entities and process philosophy. Five general conclusions are drawn from the thesis. It is first argued that the wider ontological base in agent-based modelling allows for a new approach to traditional social dualisms, moving away from the methodological individualism that dominates computational social science. Second, the need to place a distinction between explanation and understanding and to make explanatory goals explicit is highlighted. Third, it is claimed that computational social science needs to pay attention to the social epistemology of the field, for this could provide important insights regarding values, ideologies and interests that underlie the practice of agent-based modelling. Fourth, it is suggested that a more robust theorisation regarding the experimental and model-based character of agent-based modelling should be developed. Finally, it is argued that the method can greatly contribute to the development of a processual account of social life.
Commons-Based Peer Production (CBPP) is a new model of socio-economic production in which groups of individuals cooperate with each other without a traditional hierarchical organisation to produce common and public goods, such as Wikipedia or GNU/Linux. There is a need to understand how these communities govern and organise themselves as they grow in size and complexity. Following an ethnographic approach, this thesis explores the emergence of and changes in the organisational structures and processes of Drupal: a large and global CBBP community which, over the past fifteen years, has coordinated the work of hundreds of thousands of participants to develop a technology which currently powers more than 2% of websites worldwide. Firstly, this thesis questions and studies the notion of contribution in CBPP communities, arguing that contribution should be understood as a set of meanings which are under constant negotiation between the participants according to their own internal logics of value. Following a constructivist approach, it shows the relevance played by less visible contribution activities such as the organisation of events. Secondly, this thesis explores the emergence and inner workings of the socio-technical systems which surround contributions related to the development of projects and the organisation of events. Two intertwined organisational dynamics were identified: formalisation in the organisational processes and decentralisation in decision-making. Finally, this thesis brings together the empirical data from this exploration of socio-technical systems with previous literature on self-organisation and organisation studies, to offer an account of how the organisational changes resulted in the emergence of a polycentric model of governance, in which different forms of organisation varying in their degree of organicity co-exist and influence each other.
One of the biggest challenges in building intricate realistic real world models is to incorporate data and their subsequent analysis. When analysing such a system, researchers typically only use one of two modelling methodologies. The first modelling methodology is “keep it simple stupid” (KISS), which aims to capture the simplified, sometimes extremely abstract behaviours of the real world. By not including all of the intricate features of a system, leads to the problem of having to justify an abstract model to represent the real world and for the results to be verified through theoretical reasoning. However, this method is often easier to construct and yields a clear overview of the system’s behaviour. The second modelling approach is the “keep it descriptive stupid” (KIDS) approach that aims to include more vital features or behaviours of a system. The justification of using these highly descriptive models is easier, as it captures more intricate behaviours, but are often significantly more difficult to build and to analyse. This thesis shows that by using the KISS methodology to analyse the system as a whole, vital information about the build of the KIDS model, i.e. which behaviours need to be simulated, can be obtained. This simplifies the process for building the KIDS model and ensures that the general behaviour of the system is included. The KIDS model is then used to analyse how the intricate behaviours influence the system. I demonstrate this approach on two case studies, where the first investigates how impacts such as a leader’s reputation and family’s party preference influencing an individual voter alters the re-election rate of a leader or party. The second case study analyses how policies impact the UK phosphorus and nitrogen flows.
This thesis offers a sociological analysis of food waste as a social issue of importance. Alongside government intervention, numerous community groups and social enterprises have emerged across the UK which attempt to mitigate the costs of food waste in different ways. Drawing on ethnographic examples, this thesis draws attention to one grassroots social response to the food waste issue, freegan dumpster diving. Freeganism is a counter cultural movement which rejects capitalism and promotes more socially and environmentally equitable relations. Freegans reject the normative categorization of discarded food as valueless, unhygienic and inedible, and instead reclaim food disposed of by retailers for human consumption. Literature to date constructs freegan dumpster diving as a niche practice performed by individuals for political resistance or food poverty. Little attention has addressed the transformation of food waste into a valuable resource or what happens to food waste once it has been reclaimed. Drawing on participant observations and interviews conducted with six freegan community groups in the UK over 18-months, this thesis draws attention to the processes freegans engage in when dumpster diving to explore how food waste is re-valued and re-used. This emerges as a complex process. Dumpster diving is not an independent moment of recovery; attention to the different food waste pathways, as practitioners access, assess, reclaim, consume and distribute food waste varyingly, is required. Freegans regularly enact dumpster diving but for multiple reasons and in shifting configurations. A shared practice is visible across all freegan communities, albeit with some variations. These deviations allow freegans to navigate the social barriers to performance in different ways, enabling the practice to become entrenched in everyday life. When barriers prove insurmountable, practitioners move in and out of affiliation with the practice over their life-course. A similar but distinct practice has emerged in recent years with the growth of food redistribution organizations (FROs). FROs promote the re-valuing and re-using of food waste as a joint business and charity venture, supporting retailers in managing food waste by redistributing it to vulnerable people in food poverty. Utilising insights gathered through participant observations and interviews with two different FROs, these practices promote a more socially acceptable and scalable approach to reclaiming food waste than dumpster diving through their partnerships with food retailers. This, however, is at the expense of the wider socio-political objectives at the core of freeganism. The radical philosophy of freeganism thus both define its existence yet also constrains the ability for wider participation and social impact. This analysis provides useful insights into the freegan subculture and the food waste debate more widely, by exploring 1) the journeys of food waste 2) processes of reclaiming food waste 3) practitioner relationships to food waste over time and space. Freegan dumpster diving is revealed as an everyday practice that is constrained by, and constrains everyday life. At any one time, multiple food waste practices circulate, connect and transform. If points of intervention or transition to more sustainable food waste configurations are sought, further attention to this linked nexus of practices is required.
As the use of agent-based models (ABMs) in policy making continues to expand, it is increasingly clear what a variety of uses ABMs can be put to. Using the development of the SWAP model of soil and water conservation (SWC) adoption in developing countries, this thesis explores how a non-predictive policy-focused ABM can be useful in policy and theoretical contexts. Policies designed to increase adoption of SWC have generally been unsuccessful due to poor calibration to farmers’ needs. This is understood to be a result of poor interaction between the various stakeholders working on SWC. The SWAP model is developed: (i) as an ‘interested amateur’ to be used as a discussion tool to improve the quality of interaction between policy stakeholders; and (ii) as an exploration of the theory on farmer behaviour in the SWC literature. This approach was underpinned by a set of semi-structured interviews with policy practitioners on their understanding, use, and evaluation of models used in policy. The model’s use as an ‘interested amateur’ was explored during a workshop with stakeholders in Ethiopia. Participants recognised the value of the model and it was successful in aiding discussion. However, participants described an inability to innovate in their work, and viewed stakeholders ‘lower-down’ the policy spectrum as being in more need of discussion tools. A pattern-oriented modelling approach showed that the theory used in the model is successful in recreating broad patterns of adoption, but is too generic to represent a variety of different contexts. This thesis develops and presents the first use of the ‘interested amateur’ approach for ABMs. The findings suggest it has value and could be applied in other policy domains. The performance of the SWC theory is also encouraging, suggesting it can be used as a basis for other ABMs exploring farmers’ SWC behaviour.