The Statistical Consulting Center
(SCC) at Florida State University is a research assistance facility for
the students, faculty, and staff at FSU. While clients outside of FSU are
sometimes charged a fee, the consulting center is completely free of charge
for FSU students, faculty, and staff. We are staffed by one or more experienced
graduate students with faculty oversight. Services include, but are not
Translating hypotheses into statistical
Designing sampling procedures
Choosing appropriate statistical
Interpreting computer output
Phrasing statistical results
Referrals to other statistical help.
The Consulting Center generally
does not perform actual analyses. However, clients are free to reschedule
further consultation appointments if an initial visit is insufficient.
My appointment hours for the fall
of 1999 are Tuesday from 9 A.M. to 11 A.M., Wednesday from 3 P.M. to 5
P.M., and Thursday from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. However, if those hours are inconvenient,
arrangements can sometimes be made for different hours or another consultant.
Appointments are generally made for two hour blocks, but the entire time
does not have to be used.
If you are a potential client
and believe you may need statistical assistance, we recommend getting assistance
at the earliest possible stage of your research. For more on how to make
an appointment, Consulting Center policy, and FAQ, call the main office
of the FSU Statistics Department at 644-3218 or visit our website at http://stat.fsu.edu/consult/index.php.
I can be reached at 644-8437 or email@example.com .
SUMMARY OF BUSINESS ACTIVITIES
In the past year, I have seen
approximately 60 separate clients in person. Approximately 10 additional
clients were handled by phone, email or FAX. Most of our clients, perhaps
85%, were graduate students at FSU working on their thesis or dissertation.
About 10% were faculty at FSU. Most of the rest were from outside of FSU,
although at least one undergraduate was also assisted. There was also overlap
in the above categories, such as FSU faculty members working on a degree
from another university. Clients from FSU have come from a wide variety
of schools/departments including (with approximate number of clients for
the past year):
Anthropology (1 client)
Biology (3 clients)
Business (1 client)
Classics (1 client)
Communication (1 client)
Criminology (1 client)
Economics (1 client)
Education (8 clients)
Finance (1 client)
Human Services and Studies (6 client)
Information Studies (5 clients)
Information Management Science (3
Geography (1 client)
Leisure Studies (1 client)
Nursing (3 clients)
Nutrician, Food and Movement Sciences
Oceanography (3 clients)
Psychology (2 clients)
Social Work (2 clients)
In addition, clients from other
FSU organizations, or from outside FSU were assisted, such as:
Center for Biomedical and Toxicological
Research (1 client)
Center for Economic Forcasting (1
Center for Intensive English (1
Florida A&M University (1 client)
Florida Department of Environmental
Protection (1 client)
FSU Personnel Office (1 client)
Havana Herald Publishing Co. (1
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory
Typically, clients were seen about
twice, although this varied by the client's need. Some clients were seen
four or five times. One visit clients were not uncommon either. A number
of cases involved doing some additional research from texts or journals
in-between client visits.
A number of different services
were requested by clients. Many needed help designing a survey or sampling
scheme, including issues of reliability, validity, sample size, and power.
About half had already collected their data and were more concerned with
choice of statistical procedure or interpreting and phrasing statistical
results. For some clients, I read their results to see if they were accurate
and clear. Sometimes clients have specific questions about statistical
software. Although I have used a number of different software programs
and can sometimes be helpful concerning software questions, Betty Brown
at ACNS (644- 2591, firstname.lastname@example.org) is more of a software specialist.
Clients also had a wide variety
of statistical backgrounds. Some clients were unfamiliar with even basic
terminology used in statistics. Others had knowledge of specific statistical
models that required me to learn additional background information to fully
understand the client's research. Most clients had a statistical background
somewhere in between those two extremes.
TWO TYPICAL CASES
The following cases may be illustrative
of the kind of work done in the SCC. They can be considered somewhat typical,
though still noteworthy enough to be mentioned separately.
A client from the Oceanography
Department came to me with a problem concerning phosphorus concentrations
in estuaries of the Apalachicola Bay. He wished to determine an estimate
for total phosphorus input based on sample measurements taken throughout
the year. Over face-to-face conversations with the client, it was determined
that we could use a certain linear combination of his measurements to estimate
total annual phosphorus input. A standard error for the measurement was
also obtained. The results have been submitted to an oceanographic journal.
This case involved significant
work in translating what the client wanted into statistical quantities
that, once properly understood, were relatively straightforward to estimate.
Since measurements over different months appeared to have different variances,
some investigation of the Approximate Degrees of Freedom method of variance
estimation was necessary.
A professor from the Classics
Department collected some data on types of clay instruments found at different
locations within a certain archaeological site in Greece. He wanted to
know whether certain types of instruments tended to be excavated at certain
locations. Knowledge of this type would speak as to the integrity of the
excavation. For example, if there were not significantly more food-related
artifacts found where the mess hall used to be located than
the rest of the site, then it
is possible that the artifacts have been moved around considerably since
their original burial. In addition, many of the locations had low cell
Using a version of Fisher's Exact
Test for contingency tables of size greater than 2x2, we determined that
a few locations, such as the mess hall, did indeed have more occurances
of certain artifacts. However, many other locations appeared to have artifacts
distributed randomly, with little regard as to which types of artifacts
were found where. Perhaps artifacts are more reliably retained (at the
original location) for certain types of locations than others.
This case also involved a software
search, as the client was unaware of any software that would perform the
needed analysis. I was able to locate software on our system that would
perform the statistical tests and (in a rare exception to our no-analysis
policy) used the software to obtain the results before interpreting them
to the client.
I would like to say that I have
enjoyed working in the SCC very much this year, and I look forward very
much to working with future clients. I need the statistical learning experience
of working with "real" data not from a textbook, and I enjoy the interaction
with clients on both a professional and personal level. I think I've learned
a little about everything from diabetes to stock prices.
I would also like to thank a
number of professors in the FSU statistics department, especially Dr. Duane
Meeter, Dr. Pi-Erh Lin, Dr. Ian McKeague, and Dr. Xufeng Niu, for assistance
with some unusual or difficult cases. Furthermore, I appreciate Dr. Zahn's
generosity in loaning me a copy of the Sage Monograph series.