Consulting Center Work Report
Florida State University Statistical Consulting Center provides free service
to FSU faculty and graduate students who come to seek statistical assistance
on their questions, which may arise from their thesis, dissertation, research
projects and work. Even though we do not provide actual analysis, we do
provide all-around statistical guidance from formulating a research problem
to identifying statistical hypotheses to interpreting statistical results.
In additional to suggesting statistical methods to clients, we also explain
statistical ideas, confirming or suggesting modifications to their own
analyses and reassuring them about the whole statistical procedure.
the past two years, I have scheduled three two-hour intervals each week
to meet clients. However, my actual schedule is quite adaptive to the clients'
needs. Some of them may have emergencies requiring an over-the-weekend
meeting. Some of them may need to come more than once so that I make later
appointments with them at other times. Many consulting cases require additional
time devoted to reading and some research.
were a total of about 150 clients in the 2000-01 and 2001-02 academic years.The
clients came from various backgrounds, including both the physical and
social sciences. A partial list is as follows:
Biomedical Research Facility
College of Communication
College of Business, Management Department
Curriculum and Instruction
Dedman School of Hospitality
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Textiles and Consumer Sciences
FSU-FAMU College of Engineering
School of Information Studies
are also clients from other organizations, such as,
ACS State Healthcare
FSU Center for Intensive English Studies
FSU Dean of Students Department
FSU Student Counseling Center
Florida A&M University
Florida Department of Environment Education
Florida Natural Areas Inventory
Supreme Court of Florida
of the clients are graduate students who use statistics in their thesis,
dissertation, or other research project.Some
need help designing a survey or sampling scheme, including issues of reliability
and sample size. Some have already collected their data and are more concerned
with the choice of statistical procedure or interpreting and expressing
statistical results. Others need help on statistical software, e.g., SAS,
SPSS and MINITAB.
statistical tools and concepts on which we give advice include experimental
design (ANOVA, factorial), descriptive statistics (summary, graphical),
modeling [linear, GLM (logit, multi-logit, log-linear), repeated measures],
multivariate analysis (factor analysis, principal component, MANOVA, cluster
analysis, discriminant analysis), nonparametric tests (binomial, Wilcoxon-Rank
Sum, Friedman). There are other cases in which a very specific statistical
tool needs to be used. For example, a social science student may need meta-analysis,
content analysis or SEM (structure equation modeling).
clients' questions entail the use of some specific computer programs that
are not found on common statistical software like SAS and SPSS. To address
these questions, I have collected from the Internet a number of programs
that can perform various tasks like meta-analysis, content analysis, power
analysis, etc. The clients are very happy to have a reference to these
addition, I put a “resource” web page on the SCC website. That page includes
links to a statistics dictionary, an electronic statistics textbook, an
online statistics calculator, the FSU survey research laboratory that also
provides some statistics assistance, a tutor list from our department and
the statistics science web that contains everything about statistics. I
have also located many tutorials and guidance on specific statistical tools.
These resources complement what is provided at the SCC and are useful to
Contribution of the Statistical Consulting Center
role the Statistical Consulting Center (SCC) plays in supporting the research
of graduate students and faculty is significant and indispensable.A
distinct characteristic of current scientific research is that statistical
methods are used in almost every field where quantitative analysis is possible.
Especially in the social science area, it has become a norm to support
research hypotheses or social observations with some sort of data analysis.
Unfortunately, a majority of the social science students are not sufficiently
specialized in statistics and need help or guidance in their research.
The SCC is often their first choice in seeking statistical advice since
it is well-known (via their major professors or word of mouth), easily
found (through Internet search) and conveniently accessible (make appointments
through phone or email or Internet are easy and the center is flexible
to adapt all kinds of needs).
clients use this resource by coming to the center in person through appointment.
A few clients may use the center by phone or email to save time. Many clients
who have been met before may also use phone or email to ask more questions
or ask for confirmation of their statistical results. We accommodate all
these cases in the hope that this consulting resource is most helpful.
past clients of the center have found the consulting services worthwhile
and very helpful. Generally, most of them come to the SCC under a deadline
that requires a solution to a research problem quickly or a quick review
of their statistical work. In response, we provide timely statistical assistance,
whether it be in the form of statistical advice or guidance on software
use or assurance of the validity of their statistical methods. Our help
not only satisfies the clients' statistical needs, but also reduces their
stress coming from dissertation defense or journal publication deadlines.
typical example where a client solicited help from the SCC is as follows.
On Sept. 24, 2002, we received an email:
am a doctoral student at the University of South Carolina and I have recently
completed an internship at Florida State Hospital.I
am in the process of analyzing my dissertation data, but am in DESPERATE
NEED of professional assistance.Can
you please help me??I would love
an appointment.I will fax the Request
for Assistance and Consent forms to you tomorrow at 850-644-5271.”
she wished, we set up an appointment with her to meet on Sept. 26, even
though I originally had no schedule to meet client on that day and even
though she was a doctoral student at the University of South Carolina.
After the meeting, she left happily, with all her statistical questions
the following I list a sample of cases to give the reader a flavor of the
consulting requests we receive at SCC.
clients from the Florida Natural Areas Inventory wanted to design a statistically
valid method for evaluating the relative value of sites proposed for conservation
acquisition based on the natural resources the sites contain.
faculty member from the School of Information Study wanted to look at organizational
development interventions. He had three randomly assigned groups: High
Involvement, Teams, High Involvement+Teams. He had two moderators(skill
level and task-relationship orientation) and measurements on pre-intervention
and post-intervention.He asked for
help on using ANCOVA and its SPSS implementation.
professor from the Department of Civil Engineering wanted to determine
the possibility of substituting some common ingredients in concrete mixes,
without changing major properties. His data includes air content, slump
and compressive, strength of concrete. He asked for help on the experiment
design and on interpreting/reporting results.
graduate student from the Biology Department wanted to determine if mutation
has effect on viability and/or fertility in his research on gene cloning
in Drosophila. He had the data of (20 individual) pair matings in
each of 6 genetic backgrounds. He needed to choose an appropriate statistical
graduate student from the College of Business wanted to determine the effects
of social skill and influence tactics on certain HR outcomes. He “need
just a bit of help with analyzing extreme values and running moderated
regression via SPSS”.
have been working in the SCC for two years. It has been a great time for
me and I enjoyed being a statistical consultant. Why is this such a rewarding
experience for me?
I like to meet people and help them with their statistical questions. Helping,
in whatever form, is always rewarding, especially when you help a client
who is pressured by a deadline and see her leaving with a smile on her
by talking to clients face-in-face, I get an immediate experience of how
statistics is helping other scientific research. You can't get that sense
of achievement in classroom. I feel I am a small part of a big human inquiring
enterprise doing my bit of contributing to the advancement of science.
This is thrilling.
I learned the significance of statistical methods in all walks of science.
You never know the true power of statistics until you are applying it to
analyze real-world data, which can arise from such diverse areas as from
astronomy to zoology.
consulting practice reinforced what I learned in books. In addition, I
learned other precious skills like communication skills, human skills,
being trained as a statistician, it's interesting to observe how people
from different backgrounds perceive statistics; ultimately, my challenge
is to convey the kernel idea and technical terms in simple and transparent
form to the clients. I enjoy the consultant's work not only for the constant
push it gives to improve my communication skills, but also for the great
opportunity it provides to learn more special and diverse knowledge to
meet the clients' needs and increase the efficiency of collaboration.
years of consulting seems to be a very short time in the sense that consulting
is never tiring: I am always meeting new people and solving new problems.
But it is indeed a time long enough for me to grow from an inexperienced
consultant to an experienced one. Looking back on when I was a fresh consultant,
with knowledge learned only from textbooks and classroom, I realize what
a challenge it was to consult someone who was from a different discipline
and who might have a different understanding of statistics!Miscommunication
happened from time to time. I learned from each lesson, trying to do better
next time. Thanks for the Statistical Consulting course opened by Dr. Doug
Zahn, I learned precious consulting skills and got great advice from him.
Gradually, I became more effective and efficient in consulting.
would like to thank Dr. Zahn for his encouragement and advice on how to
be a better consultant. His class on consulting is also very helpful. I
would also like to thank a number of other professors in our department,
especially Dr. Duane Meeter and Dr. Xufeng Niu, for assistance with some