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I have a long list of projects I’d love to get to at some point (on top of the ones that I’ve already started…). Some are just neat ideas I’ve had, others are part of a long-term research agenda. And then there are the fleeting thoughts or reactions to other work that make me think: hey, it would be cool if someone did that (the important bit is that the someone doesn’t necessarily have to be me).

For a while, I’ve dispensed these on twitter with a non-sequential list of “free project ideas” so I thought I would collect them all here, and add a few others from my list that I genuinely don’t think I’ll have time for. Feel free to take these and run with them. Some are possibly dead ends. Some could be nice analyses in “Big Journals™”. But I will leave these outcomes as an exercise for the reader.

If you want, I could potentially help out (depending on what other projects I have on), but either way, I’d appreciate letting me know and hopefully being acknowledged. So without further ado…


Alex’s Non-sequential List of Free Project Ideas (last updated 07 March 2020)

free project idea #85: a survey of the 2019 issues of n journals in <field of study>. What proportion of figures were in colour, and what proportion of those are colour-blind and/or B&W printing friendly? How many journals have those suggestions in their authors instructions?

free project idea #18: geographic diversity of authors of the last 11 iterations of the annual conservation horizon scan that appears in TREE, with matching exercise from authors of unrepresented countries/regions

free project idea #43: frequency and causes of runt eggs in bird clutches.

free project idea #31: survival analysis of government ministers (within & among jurisdictions) in relation to progress in environmental & social policies. Does high ministerial turn-over correlate to stagnation of legislation?

free project idea #72: apply this paper to the entire British Isles seabird colony database, and overlay hydrocarbon development, shipping routes, offshore wind farms, and protected areas. See where the gaps & important areas are (or at least where to focus yet more tracking work).

free project idea #58: reanalyse seabird stable isotope data for a year (between 2006-2016) without ignoring model/data assumptions and see how the interpretation changes. We’ve learned a lot, but older papers still cited as gospel.

free project idea #29 – review of how we calculate, and then incorporate detection probability in bird population surveys, from the field collection through to the modelling side. Does this change conclusions (aka does it matter) and if so, can we retrospective account for it?

Free project idea #37: sentiment analysis of visual depictions in the media of global heating, as manifested in stories about heatwaves, or very above seasonal temperatures. They’re not happy events: Image

free project idea #6: look at the accuracy & recentness of data used in Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) and Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). Some are quite old (>30 years!) & in need of updated assessments.

free project idea #61: what drives intraspecific variation in breeding phenology among north Atlantic auks? Why do UK puffins hatch before Canadian puffins have even laid their egg?

free project idea #23: run sustainability models (e.g., potential biological removal) for species that are permitted to be culled/were covered under the former Natural England general license. How does this compare with other sources or mortality?

free project idea #78: how do seabird foraging metrics (max speed, distance, etc) from tracking data relate to incubation shift? A phylogenetically controlled study that makes predictions about untracked species could be useful for designating marine Important Bird Areas.