Dr. Sil Aarts



Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Sil, an assistant professor at Caphri, part of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. In my job, I spend half my time on conducting science (including supervising master and PhD students) and half my time on education (lectures, coordination tasks etc) related to technology, data and health care (and sometimes even statistics). My research line, at The Living Lab in Ageing and Long-term Care, is focused on the use of data accumulated in long-term care for older adults. With the use of data-driven explorations (e.g. text-mining) I aim to increase our knowledge on quality of care, quality of life and quality of work in this care setting. One day per week I work as a so-called linking-pin at a long-term care organisation for older adults. Here my aim is to intertwine research with daily care practice.

How do you use R? What are your favorite packages?

I use R for lots of things. Of course, there is our work at the Living Lab. Currently, we use text-mining to gain insights into quality of care based on 124 interviews with residents of nursing homes, their family members and care staff. Of course, we are also comparing these methods to standard manual approaches (i.e. manual open and axial coding of text). We use several packages to do this including, but not limited to: tidytext, topicmodels, and tm. We also developed a package ourselves, aimed at Dutch language specific to this care setting, which we aim to publish later this year.

I also like to use R to participate in #TidyTuesday. If I have time, that is. tidyverse is all we need, right?! (well, maybe also add a drop of cowplot) In addition, I am in love with the harrypotter (option= “always”) and wesanderson palettes for those nice splashes of colour!

What hardware do you run R on? Do you use any other software tools?

I have a MacBook Pro. At our university we have a Data Research Infrastructure (DSRI) in order to run our data science experiments. The more advanced analyses, using more computational power, are currently conducted by a PhD student I supervise. We store our code (not our privacy-sensitive raw data) at a private Github repository, which will be made public as soon as the corresponding manuscripts are submitted/published.

Do you have any projects that you’re working on right now?

Any? More then one of course! Currently we are conducting multiple scientific studies focused on gaining knowledge from text collected in long-term care organisations. This text originates from either interviews or Electronic Health Records. Publications of the manuscripts and the package will follow somewhere this year. Stay tuned and see you later!