Alex Luscombe

Alex Luscombe

PhD Candidate in Criminology

University of Toronto

Hi! Welcome to my personal website.

I am a PhD Candidate in criminology at the University of Toronto, a computer programmer, and a research and policy consultant. From 2017-2021, I was a Junior Fellow at Massey College. I conduct research in the areas of policing studies, criminal justice policy, freedom of information law, and computational social science. As a consultant, I have worked for various Canadian private and public sector agencies, as well as international organizations like the OECD.

My research has been published in a number of peer-reviewed academic journals and has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Sociological Association, and the Government of Ontario. I am the co-editor of two academic books, Freedom of Information and Social Science Research Design (UBC Press, 2022) and Changing of the Guards: Private Influences, Privatization, and Criminal Justice in Canada (Routledge, 2019). My work has been profiled in national and international news outlets, including Nature, The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star, The Washington Post, and BBC News.

Since 2018, I have been a member of the editorial board of the University of Toronto publication, Criminological Highlights. From April 2020-July 2021, I co-led the Policing the Pandemic Mapping Project in partnership with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Beyond my research, I am an avid rock climber, mountain biker, and cross-country skier.

Recent Posts

Annotating Training Data in R

Some collaborators and I recently started a project analyzing a large amount of tweets we obtained via the Twitter API. To analyze these data, we are planning to train a machine learning model, which means we need training data, which means we need annotations (‘ground truth’ as its commonly referred to in computer science).

Publications

Deciphering the Decline: A Computational Analysis of Two Decades of Canadian Newspaper Op-Eds on Freedom of Information

Newspaper op-eds are an underexplored mode of communication that frame social, cultural, and political issues. This article uses an unsupervised machine-learning approach called structural topic modelling to map changes in the content of a corpus of …

Changing of the Guards: Private Influences, Privatization, and Criminal Justice in Canada

Changing of the Guards evaluates issues of privatization and private influence across the twenty-first-century Canadian criminal justice system. In recent decades, service outsourcing has spread throughout Canada’s prisons and jails, into its police, …

Jumpstarting the Justice Disciplines: A Computational-Qualitative Approach to Collecting and Analyzing Text and Image Data in Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies

Computational methods are increasingly popular in criminal justice research. As more criminal justice data becomes available in ‘big’ and other digital formats, new means of embracing the computational turn are needed. In this article, we …