The Statistics Consulting Service offered through the Department of Statistics provides free statistical advice on University-related research projects. Any currently enrolled graduate student at the university may request assistance. Students 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, we suggest considering the drop-in hours held by graduate students through the Graduate Student Commons (see 'Drop-In Hours' below for more information). This service is appropriate for quick questions, and is not intended for more in-depth projects requiring background context.
Current faculty and staff may also request consulting assistance. Requests from faculty are handled by Department of Statistics faculty and, depending on the nature of the project, may include advice or longer-term collaboration.
Consulting requests from students, staff, or faculty involving survey research, including questionnaire design and implementation of probability samples, should be directed to the Survey Research Center.
NOTE: Beginning in Spring term 2020 and for the foreseeable future, all consulting sessions (long format and "drop-in") will be held remotely over Zoom following OSU's guidance about the COVID-19 pandemic.
To request assistance, please fill out the Qualtrics form online. Assignment of projects is on a first-come-first-served basis during the academic year. We are unable to provide consulting services during the summer. 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, contact Lisa Ganio: lisa.ganio [at] oregonstate.edu
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.
The end of the quarter presents some additional complications. If your request for consulting is made toward 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). We will do our best to accommodate these additional assistance requests, but can not guarantee a consultant is available. To arrange additional services, send an email to Lisa Ganio: lisa.ganio [at] oregonstate.edu
PREPARING FOR THE FIRST MEETING
Your student consultant will contact you regarding the first meeting and will request some background information on your problem for them to look over before the first meeting. The most helpful information will be a written summary of your problem (including your primary objective). Examples of additional information that could make the initial meeting more productive 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. See the handout entitled Information to Obtain at First Meeting for a list of topics to be covered at this meeting. A statistics faculty member will oversee this first meeting, however it will be led by the student consultant. We kindly ask that your faculty advisor does not attend the meeting, so that the communication is more directly between students.
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 Lisa Ganio via ganiol [at] oregonstate.edu