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Free Statistical Consultation: 2021/22

The Statistics Department offers several types of free statistical consultation, via STAT 551, SOS and STAT 450, as follows:

  • STAT 551: Term 1 only, open to anyone, via students in STAT 551 mentored by faculty; accepting projects for term 1 2021-21 from now until Nov 5
  • SOS (Statistical Opportunity for Students): year-round, UBC-V graduate students only, via a team of a senior Statistical consultant and a Statistics graduate student 
  • STAT 450: Term 2 only, open to anyone, via students in STAT 450 mentored by faculty; accepting projects for term 2 2020-21 from Nov 8 - Jan 14

Submit your request for free consulting

Submit a required project description to ASDa by e-mail to

asda at stat dot ubc dot ca

(as an attached PDF file), with a subject line clearly indicating either STAT 551 or SOS or STAT 450 (see below for further details on each opportunity).

Your project description

See sample project descriptions at https://asda.stat.ubc.ca/sos/.

Your project description should consist of a concise description of your research problem in non-specialist language, with a clear indication of specific statistical issues on which advice is desired. A description of at most one page is preferred. Please only attach supplementary material if it is absolutely essential. For example, sending a grant proposal, together with a cover note saying you want advice on its statistical aspects, without any attempt to describe the research problem in terms that can be understood by a Statistics graduate student or to clarify what specific statistical issues are of concern, is not an appropriate submission.

Please note that a graduate student seeking statistical advice needs the permission of their supervisor. An e-mail from the supervisor at the time of project submission suffices, with the name of the student and the project clearly indicated.

STAT 551 details

Students in the consulting practicum, STAT 551, provide free consultation involving 2-4 hours of face-time via video call with the client and also provide a written report containing detailed advice and recommendations. STAT 551 is offered in Term 1 each academic year. Students in this course have already completed STAT 550 (Techniques of Statistical Consulting), and will be undertaking this academic activity under the overall supervision of a department faculty member.

Projects from all UBC and non-UBC units and all levels of researchers, particularly graduate students, are welcome. Research projects requiring primarily advice on appropriate designs and methods of statistical analysis are ideally suited for STAT 551. To allow each STAT 551 student to be exposed to several projects, the total time spent on each project has to be limited. Thus, smaller projects are particularly suitable.  

As soon as your project is approved, your description will be added to the list from which students will select projects. Thus it is to your advantage to submit a clear description as soon as possible. Students will begin selecting projects at the start of the fall term. The clearer your description, the more likely students are to select your project sooner rather than later and the more productive the initial consultation session is likely to be. Once your project has been selected, the student will contact you to arrange an appointment for an initial consultation session. If, at any time prior to being contacted, you no longer require advice on your project, please let ASDa know so the students do not spend time preparing for "inactive" projects.

SOS details

SOS runs year-round and involves a one-hour meeting (video conference or in person) with a senior consultant and a Statistics student, with the client receiving a one-page report, with relatively short turn-around time. Clients must be UBC-V graduate students.

SOS is funded by the UBC Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Research and Innovation.

STAT 450 details

As part of our ongoing efforts to bring current research into the classroom and promote interdisciplinary collaborations, the students enrolled in STAT 450 will provide free statistical analyses in Term 2 of each academic year. The students will be carrying out this academic activity under the co-supervision of faculty instructors. The data will be treated with confidentiality within the courses and may be re-used in these courses on other years, with your permission.

Research projects from all UBC and non-UBC units and all levels of researchers (but particularly UBC undergraduate and graduate students) are welcome. We prioritize well-focused projects with one or two specific questions to be addressed using already collected data.

Throughout the academic term, STAT 450 students will identify appropriate approaches to the analysis, carry these out, provide a report interpreting their results, and prepare a poster to summarize their work. To give the students the opportunity to practice and enhance their communication skills, we require a representative of your project to meet with the STAT 450 class 3 times (video conference call and if local in person at least once) to describe your research project in more detail, to answer questions the students may have in the course of their work, and/or to provide feedback on preliminary results. We expect that this will, to your advantage, result in a better final product.

Once your project is approved for STAT 450, you will need to provide the data set as an .xls, .txt, or .csv, with all the variables, including units and coding where relevant, clearly identified. The data will be treated with confidentiality within the course. If you are a student, your supervisor needs to provide written approval of your participation and data sharing with STAT 450.

Need help deciding?

One difference among these opportunities is the time commitment from the client and from the Statistics expert. SOS involves the least time—a one-hour meeting with a follow-up one-page report—and has fast turn-around time. STAT 551 students, may spend 2-4 hours with the client, and then aim for a report within two weeks of the last contact. A team of STAT 450 students work together on one project, spending an entire semester and interacting regularly with the client, either in person or via distance methods like zoom. Another difference among the opportunities is that the client receives advice and a report via STAT 551 and SOS, but does not receive statistical analysis. STAT 450 students carry out data analysis – so, of course, they will need the data. If you are still unsure which is most suitable simply mention this when you submit your project description.

Need further help?

Where further work is desired, ASDa, the Statistics Department’s Applied Statistics and Data Science Group, has fee-for-service options. Also available is help through the Short Term Consulting Service, run entirely by the graduate students of the Department of Statistics who have completed the course Stat 550, Techniques of Statistical Consulting. For more information, please check: https://www.stat.ubc.ca/how-can-you-get-help-your-data; or https://www.stat.ubc.ca/~stcs/; or http://asda.stat.ubc.ca.

Spread the word

If you know others who might be interested in these consultation services, please pass on this information.  

August 4, 2021