Consulting Services

Consulting services generally are available only to members of the Boston University Community. These services will be offered free of charge.

There are three levels of consulting available through our service:

  • ‘One-and-Done’ (short question/answer sessions of roughly 30 minutes)
  • Limited-Duration (more extended consultation work, limited to no more than 10 hours/ student consultant)
  • Collaborative (more substantial, potentially open-ended work of a collaborative nature)

‘One-and-Done’ consulting is arranged in advance. The most efficient way to set up a consulting session is to make a request through our online webform. These services are staffed by groups of 3-4 our MSSP students, supported by a PhD student.  Appropriate consultations might involve high-level feedback on study design, walking a client through a t-test or similar, and advice on presentation of results. Consultations that are found to require more than roughly 30 minutes will be recommended for limited-duration.

Limited-Duration consultations are for projects requiring more than a single meeting but which are nevertheless fairly limited in scope. Initial meetings should be arranged through the web portal. Additional meetings, as needed, will be arranged at the mutual convenience of the client and the student consultants. Consultations will involve groups of MSSP students and a faculty mentor.  Initial requests for limited-duration consulting will be fielded by MSSP program faculty and staff to insure that size and scope of projects are appropriate (i.e., neither too trivial nor too involved). Examples of limited-duration consultations might include power calculations for study design, generating simple summary analyses and visualizations of prepared data, or initial cleaning, manipulation, and exploratory analysis of raw data.

Collaborative consulting is appropriate for projects requiring substantial involvement of the statistician. In fact, for any projects other than those where the statistical needs are both particularly well-defined and narrow in scope, collaborative consulting is strongly recommended to our clients as best-practice. The initialization of, conduct, and reporting for collaborative consulting exactly mirrors that of limited-duration consulting, as described above. Note, however, that for projects leading to publication, it is expected that appropriate authorship will be discussed for those statisticians substantively involved.

Policies on Acknowledgement of Statistical Consulting and Collaboration

Collaborative Projects: For collaborative projects which lead to presentations, projects, or publications it is expected that appropriate authorship will be discussed for those statisticians substantively involved.

Limited Duration: When the scope of the work is limited but nevertheless is used in a presentation, project, or publication, we would appreciate an appropriate citation or acknowledgment. For example, clients may include “We acknowledge the help of [NAME] of the MSSP consulting service under the guidance of Professor [NAME]” as a footnote accompanying grant support and related projects.”1

If you have any questions regarding our acknowledgement policy, please contact the faculty mentor assigned to your project for clarification.

1. We explicitly do not insist upon co-authorship for projects of `limited duration’ type — although, of course, if the conventions of your field permit, co-authorship for at least a subset of the consulting team is always greatly appreciated. This MSSP policy is intended to allow clients maximum flexibility in seeking out and benefiting from our statistical consulting work while, at the same time, promoting best practice regarding academic intellectual property. Our perspective is informed by the American Statistical Association’s guide When You Consult a Statistician … What to Expect, which states that any such product “should acknowledge the participation of the statistician, consistent with the value of that participation.”