The Statistics Department offers several types of free statistical consultation, via STAT 551, SOS and STAT 450/550, as follows:
- STAT 551: Term 1 only, open to anyone, via students in STAT 551 mentored by faculty; accepting projects for term 1 2023-24 from now until Oct 31
- 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 450/550/540: Term 2 only, open to anyone, via students mentored by faculty; accepting projects for term 2 2023-24 from Nov 1 – Dec 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 450/550 or STAT 540 (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. The description should aim to include: the scientific objectives, research design, sampling units, list of main measured variables and questionnaires (as instruments), data quality, stage of the research study (before, in the middle of, or after data collection), and if applying for STAT 540, whether any required data processing has been completed. 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 with the client (meetings in person or via video conferencing) 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.
If STAT 551 has a long queue of submissions, we might handle your consultation through an in-class session rather than assigning a STAT 551 student as a consultant. In this case, you would be asked to give a half-hour PowerPoint presentation during the class time of Monday/Wednesday 2:30 to 4:00 (in-person in ESB 4192 or via Zoom), followed by questions from the students and suggestions of statistical methods.
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 450/550/540 details
As part of our ongoing efforts to bring current research into the classroom and promote interdisciplinary collaborations, the students enrolled in STAT 450, STAT 550, and (new this year) STAT 540 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. All students STAT 450 and STAT 540 will carry out the TCPS 2 CORE ethics training and the data will be treated with confidentiality within the courses and only 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 at least 3 times (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.
If your project is selected for STAT 550, you will be required to attend the class on two occasions (zoom possible if necessary) where the first time will be to discuss your research questions and your data and the second time after the students have begun the analysis to answer any questions. The time from the first class meeting to the final analysis report will be about 6 weeks.
This year, we are piloting STAT 540 involvement in these consulting opportunities. For a project to be suitable for STAT 540, it must involve high-dimensional biological data. Specifically, your data should ideally contain many (on the order of hundreds or more) measurements per experimental unit. Since the focus of the course is on downstream statistical analysis, standard quality control and preprocessing steps (e.g. mapping of raw sequencing reads), if applicable, should already be completed and data ready to share by January 8, 2024. STAT 540 students will identify and apply appropriate approaches for statistical analysis to answer the biological question(s) of interest, provide a report interpreting their results, and prepare an oral presentation to summarize their work. Note that although STAT 540 instructors supervise the projects, the students are the ones leading and carrying out the data analysis. We require a representative of your project to meet with the STAT 540 students (virtually or in-person) at least twice over the course of the term 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.
Please note that these projects also have educational goals. Although we will aim to accomplish your objectives, the work accomplished is work that fits into the semester and may not be at the level of peer-reviewed publications or a production ready data pipeline. Students work toward the course's defined deadlines, so asking students to deliver reports/meetings outside these course timelines is not within the scope of STAT 450/550/540.
Once your project is approved for STAT 450/550/540, 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 450/550/540.
Need help deciding?
One difference among these opportunities is the type of data involved; projects selected for STAT 540 must relate to high-dimensional biological data (see above). All other opportunities are open to all areas of application. Another difference among the 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 or 540 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 450/550/540 students carry out data analysis – so, of course, they will need the data. Note that 450/540 students will work on the analyses and report throughout the entire term, while 550 students will during a 6-week period. 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. For more information, please check: https://www.stat.ubc.ca/how-can-you-get-help-your-data; or http://asda.stat.ubc.ca.
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