Consulting is an important component of statistics as a discipline, and professional organizations within statistics recognize consulting as a substantial professional activity. Consulting activities range from addressing specific questions to engaging in long-term, collaborative research where statistical perspectives become an integral part of a research team. Most statisticians in government and industry have at least some responsibility for consulting, as do some with academic appointments.
Because of the importance of consulting to the profession, the OSU Department of Statistics requires all students receiving a graduate degree in statistics to gain some supervised experience in serving as a statistical consultant. This training occurs primarily through the consulting practicum, which brings statistics students together with clients on a wide range of practical problems. (Many programs offering graduate degrees in statistics lack a consulting requirement, and many do not provide a structured opportunity to gain experience as a statistical consultant.)
Many of our statistics graduate students have emphasized the importance of the Consulting Seminar in their graduate education. In the seminar they gain valuable exposure to the real-world application of statistics to a broad range of non-textbook problems. The twice-weekly, presentation-and-discussion sessions vividly demonstrate the process of placing a real problem into a statistical framework and then searching for solutions. The pass/no pass format provides students with the opportunity to practice their written and oral communications skills in an ungraded environment. Recognizing the educational value, statistics graduate students often elect to take additional terms of the seminar beyond the minimum degree requirement.