DESCRIPTION FOR THOSE REQUESTING ASSISTANCE

PURPOSE

The Statistics Student Consulting Service offered through the Department of Statistics, provides free statistical advice on University-related research projects. Any currently enrolled graduate student or faculty member at the university may request assistance. People asking for advice will be working with graduate students currently enrolled in the Department of Statistics. Department of Statistics faculty are actively involved in an advisory role to the student consultants. When requesting assistance, please recognize that this service is not structured to provide overnight help. Most projects take 2-3 weeks to complete (see 'Timing' below for more information).  If you are in a hurry, other arrangements can be make through the Department of Statistics (but there may need to be a charge).

REQUESTING ASSISTANCE

To request assistance you may either fill out a yellow request form available from the secretary of the Statistics Department and return it to the secretary, or fill out the form online. Assignment of projects is on a first-come-first-served basis. Projects are generally assigned within one week following their turn-in date. In the event that several requests for assistance are made at once, projects may wait up to two to three weeks before they are assigned (you will be notified if there will be a delay). If you are not contacted within three weeks by a consultant, call the Statistics Department office at (541) 737-3366.

TIMING

Very few consulting problems are taken care of during the initial meeting. Typically, the consultant familiarizes himself/herself with your project and the questions of interest during the initial meeting. Your project is then presented to the consulting group at the twice-weekly meetings and/or discussed with the consulting supervisor or other faculty  members. After discussing the problem, the consultant will meet with you to explain the advice given by the consulting group and faculty members. Occasionally three or more meetings are required.

The statistics graduate students who are providing assistance for a given term meet twice a week to discuss current projects. New projects are also assigned at these meetings. Once a student consultant is assigned to your project, he/she will contact you within a few days to schedule an initial meeting. If you are in a hurry, other arrangements can be made through the Department of Statistics (but there may need to be a charge). 

The end of the quarter presents some additional complications.  If your request for consulting is made at the end of a term (see 'Important Times to Remember'  below for more information), it is unlikely that we can provide a completed solution during that term. However, you should be assigned a consultant early the following term.

Please recognize that once your project is completed or the quarter ends, whichever comes first, the statistics graduate student consultant is no longer responsible for providing advice through this service.  If you need additional assistance in subsequent terms, please submit a new request to the consulting service.

TYPE OF ASSISTANCE PROVIDED

The assistance given is primarily advice.  After gathering information and meeting with others, the consultant will advise you regarding your question.  Consultants will not do data entry or statistical analyses for you.  Other arrangements may be made through the Department of Statistics for assistance of this type (but there may need to be a  charge). The consultants can advise on many aspects of statistical design and analysis, including but not limited to, designing a study, database management, data exploration, formulating a statistical model, determining the type of analysis that should be done, advising on appropriate statistical software, and interpretation of analyses. This service is not to be used for homework problems or class projects.  If additional assistance is needed, other arrangements can be made through the Department of Statistics (but there may be a charge). Send email to Alix Gitelman to arrange additional services.

PREPARING FOR THE FIRST MEETING

The most helpful information will be a written summary of your problem (including your primary objective). Additional information that you feel would make the initial meeting more productive can be attached to the yellow request form. Examples of such information  include:

  • a copy of a research proposal (particularly sections that define the objectives of your research and the study design).
  • a diagram of the experimental layout and/or a map of areas to be sampled.
  • possible limitations in materials or time
  • scatter plots of the data.
  • tables of summary statistics.
  • computer output from statistical software.

The more the consultant knows about your project before the first meeting, the better he/she will understand your problem. At the initial meeting, the consultant will try to get a good understanding of your project (this is necessary before any advice can be offered). In order to avoid giving you incorrect advice, the consultant will need to ask about many details of your study – more details than you may think are needed. If feasible, consider meeting with the consultant at your lab or research area. See the handout entitled Information to Obtain at First Meeting for a list of topics to be covered at this meeting. 

IMPORTANT TIMES TO REMEMBER

  • The first group of projects is assigned at the class meeting during the first week of classes and presented to the twice-weekly meetings during the second week of classes.
  • Lately, there have been many requests. In recent quarters, the last projects have been assigned by the middle of the term, so get your requests in early in the term.

COMMENTS FROM YOU

We appreciate feedback from those people using this consulting service. We are committed to continued improvement of the Statistics Consulting Service. If you have comments, please send them to Alix Gitelman, Department of Statistics.