Competens Support for JASP: An Interview with Don van den Bergh

Recently JASP has received generous financial support from the Competens Foundation (https://competens.nl/). This foundation manages an IT skills fund with the express purpose to stimulate growth and innovation by supporting IT projects throughout The Netherlands. With the support from the Competens Foundation the JASP team was fortunate to be able to re-hire a highly competent R programmer and JASP veteran: Don van den Bergh (https://www.uva.nl/profiel/b/e/d.vandenbergh/j.d.van-den-bergh.html).  

In this interview we talk to Don and have him outline his Competens plans. For those of you who are eager to know what innovations you can expect, these are (1) a “survey” module for the analysis of survey data; (2) a “Stan” module for probabilistic Bayesian programming; (3) a first exploration of a Bayesian quality control module, which has the potential to make industries function more effectively.

An Interview with Don van den Bergh

Q1: Don, can you tell us something about yourself, and your previous involvement with JASP?

A1: I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam. During my PhD, I worked on various Bayesian models, ranging from ANOVA and linear regression models to more exotic models such as cultural consensus theory. It came quite naturally to also contribute to JASP, in particular for the Bayesian ANOVAs and linear regression as these analyses are often used in practice. Over time, I became more involved in JASP and also programmed things outside of my direct statistical expertise, such as network analysis and a rudimentary plot editor. 

Q2: So now you have officially joined the JASP team again, what concrete “Competens projects” will you initiate? Why did you decide to work on these and not others?

A2: I went down the list of open issues and one of the oldest open issues is a feature request for survey data (https://github.com/jasp-stats/jasp-issues/issues/73). Multiple related requests have been made over the years, so I figured this might be a good moment to sit down and take the time to implement survey analyses properly. While there are definitely other things I would (and probably will) spend time on, I figured that as an open-source project, JASP strongly benefits from community input, which only really works if we also listen to that input.

Q3: Can you say anything about the timeline of these projects?

A3: My goal is to finish the survey module near the end of 2024. That timeline should suffice for a first version. If any key features are missing after that these can hopefully be brought to our attention by our users.

Q4: Do you have any other activities planned?

A4: Aside from the usual bug fixes that end up on my plate, I plan to support students who contribute to Bayesian quality controls and provide support for other developers in general. Depending on my schedule, I would like to add some additional functionality to the plot editor.

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