|MSU STRATEGIC INVESTMENT PROPOSAL FOR INSTITUTIONAL PRIORITIES|
|Title||Statistical Consulting Center||Request Date||2012-11-29|
|Cross Depts||The proposal supports any faculty member, student, or staff member with a potential need for statistical consulting services. It would provide MSU-wide service.|
|Proposed Dates||Start: January, 2014||End:|
|Statistical consulting is an essential service for researchers at a top tier research university. MSU currently lags far behind its peers and other research universities in providing the necessary infrastructure to support the statistical needs of researchers. The demand for statistical consulting far exceeds the limited services the small statistics faculty can provide. Therefore, we propose the creation and continued funding of a formal Statistical Consulting Center (SCC) to support researchers (faculty, students, and staff) across the university. This service is integral to MSU's research, teaching, and service missions.|
|The creation of a Statistical Consulting Center addresses the strategic objectives of Learning, Integration, and Discovery.
The Statistical Consulting Center directly addresses the learning objective for all students involved in quantitative research by facilitating timely and successful completion of degrees (Objective L.2 Increase graduation rates). The center would help students from departments across campus with study design and statistical analysis, increasing the efficiency of their research and providing them with a one-on-one learning experience related to their research project. Importantly, we expect this to help increase the number of graduating doctoral students, by helping to finish degrees in a timely manner.
It will also provide a laboratory for learning for statistics graduate and undergraduate students by giving them hands-on experience with real problems and real collaboration, leading to enhanced student learning of critical knowledge and skills, increased job placement, and increased rates of further education (Objective L.1 Assess and improve where needed, student learning of critical knowledge and skills and Objective L.3 Increase job placement and further education rates). Additionally, the center would help build partnerships across disciplinary boundaries and naturally combines research and teaching, furthering the Integration objective.
A Statistical Consulting Center primarily addresses the strategic objective Discovery, with a clear role in raising MSUís national and international prominence in research, creativity, innovation, and scholarly achievement, and fortifying the university's standing as one of the nation's leading public research universities. In fact, the current lack of such a service is counter to this strategic objective, because such a service is already present at peer institutions. The Strategic Plan specifically states "Sustaining this prominence requires ... developing and maintaining the appropriate infrastructure." A Statistical Consulting Center is clearly such "appropriate infrastructure." Specifically, the creation of this center most closely aligns with Objective D.2 (Enhance infrastructure in support of research, discovery, and creative activities), but also is expected to serve Objective D.1 (Elevate the research excellence and recognition of MSU faculty) and Objective D.3 (Expand the scale, breadth, and quality of doctoral education) as the center will provide free services to all MSU doctoral students regarding study design, statistical analysis, and interpretation of results, facilitating rigorous and timely research projects.
|COST AND REQUIREMENTS|
|Funding Type:||One-Time Only Funding||Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding|
|FY13||FY14||FY15||Base ($)||OTO Startup ($)||FTE;|
|Materials & Supplies||10000.00|
|Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.||
Salaries and Benefits:
NOTE: See details below for when costs start. The starting date for the assistant could be contingent on workload for the director. The human resources requested are consistent with those used at Oregon State University and Colorado State University to provide similar services.
Travel: $4,000/yr for professional development and travel for the director, employee, and/or graduate students to workshops and/or conferences related to applied statistics and statistical consulting.
One-Time Only Funding:
Materials & Supplies:
|Describe the Proposal|
Statistical consulting services for researchers are inadequate compared to other peer and top tier research universities. The MSU Strategic Plan specifically promises to commit resources to “developing and maintaining the appropriate infrastructure” required to sustain our Carnegie Foundation’s classification of “Very High Research Activity.” Formal statistical consulting infrastructure is currently missing from MSU. We propose the creation of a Statistical Consulting Center with dedicated staff to address the statistical needs of the MSU research community in a timely and professional manner.
Access to statistical consulting is increasingly important for publication and securing grants as the sophistication of statistical methods required and expected often exceeds the background of many researchers. The magnitude of requests for statistical consulting far exceeds what the current Statistics faculty can handle amidst their other teaching, research, and service expectations. MSU researchers are often denied the statistical help they are seeking. This leaves researchers looking outside of MSU for help or worse, not involving a statistician. Young researchers and graduate students without external funding are the most seriously affected by this because they lack the resources to pay for statistical consulting. This has clear potential impacts on graduate student success and retention and promotion of faculty.
Statistical consulting provides assistance with study design, selection of appropriate methods for statistical inference, and interpretation of results from data analysis. Consulting with a statistician “early and often” can prevent researchers from wasting time and money on a study that ultimately does not satisfy the original objectives. Research at all levels suffers from the deficiency of resources to enhance and expedite the statistical components of the research, and methods are becoming increasingly sophisticated beyond most researchers’ formal training. Statistical consulting services must be readily accessible and available in timely manner.
We propose the creation of a Statistical Consulting Center run by a full-time non-tenure track faculty member under a 12 month contract. The director will have a Ph.D. in Statistics or an M.S. in Statistics with years of consulting experience worthy of the director position. After initial establishment, the director would hire and manage one full time 12-month employee with at least an M.S. in Statistics who would help with more routine consultations, note-taking, scheduling, analyzing data, and writing of reports. The center would also support two Statistics graduate students to assist with data analysis, less complex consulting problems, note-taking, and surveying of clients. This will provide valuable experience for the graduate students as they start their careers, as well as enable the consulting center to serve more clients. One undergraduate Statistics student will also be employed to handle easier tasks and to gain experience in statistical consulting, thereby increasing her/his marketability with future job opportunities or possibly increase interest in the pursuit of graduate study of statistics.
It is expected that after an initial period of establishment, the center will be able to partially fund itself in the form of hiring additional staff and/or supporting additional graduate students. The degree of self-sustainability of the center will depend on the success of researchers in securing grants and their willingness to include money in their budgets to support growth of the center. While a degree of self-funding is attractive, we highlight the importance of base funding, particularly to support newer researchers and graduate students who do not yet have access to research money to pay for consulting. We firmly believe this service should not be limited only to those who are already established and/or successful in procuring grants. The services provided by the center should also assist researchers launching and improving their research programs at any point in their careers.
Basic consulting services would be free to all researchers (faculty, students, or staff) affiliated with MSU. More detailed and time consuming consultation and data analysis could be charged a fee at the discretion of the director, taking into account the client’s ability to pay for such services. While MSU researchers will be given priority, it is possible clients from the community who are not affiliated with MSU could use the services for a negotiated fee. Researchers will be encouraged to compensate the center in some fashion, whether in the form of public acknowledgement, publication credit, financial remuneration, or inclusion in future grant proposals.
The Statistical Consulting Center will also serve to direct researchers requesting consulting related to applied mathematics to faculty members in the Department of Mathematical Sciences with the appropriate expertise. It is possible applied mathematics consulting could be incorporated into the center in the future if there is a demonstrated need and interest.
The Department of Mathematical Sciences will initially provide office space for the director, assistant, and graduate students, a room for meetings with clients, and access to the computer server. However, the newly renovated Romney gymnasium could provide a centrally located center with increased visibility to the campus community. It would require space for five people to work at computers and a small meeting room for consultations with clients. The Statistics faculty will also serve as colleagues to the director to provide further expertise for more challenging problems.
|Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal|
A Statistical Consulting Center (SCC) would provide crucial and long-needed services to university researchers. It is crucial to the Discovery objective of the Strategic Plan, representing “appropriate infrastructure” to sustain and solidify MSU’s reputation as a research force, and also strengthens the Learning and Integration objectives.
Expected impacts and benefits of the center
Demonstration of widespread support
A Statistical Consulting Center would provide a service for the entire university, simply spearheaded by the Statistics faculty. Therefore, it is important to demonstrate widespread support among researchers for formal statistical consulting infrastructure. Two weeks ago, we sent an email to researchers we had interacted with previously regarding statistical consulting, asking for those who would be willing to endorse the idea and identify themselves as future users of such a service. The email briefly described the idea for the center, the number of employees, and our intent to submit a Strategic Investment Proposal, but did not provide all details of this proposal. The following individuals and groups (in no particular order) responded with their support for the center and are identified as future users. This quickly compiled list illustrates the broad appeal and need for such a center. Following the names are some of the comments we received in the emails (with author identification removed), further demonstrating enthusiasm for this idea.
Spring 2013 : Search for director who will start in August 2013.
Fall 2013: The director will use this semester to organize the center and hire assistants for Spring 2014. The director will advertise and inform the campus community about the upcoming services while building relationships with researchers around campus. Even if the director does provide some consulting this semester, the assessment and evaluation of the center will not begin until Spring 2014.
Spring 2014: The Statistical Consulting Center will be officially up and running with two graduate student assistants, and possibly a full time assistant, working under the director’s leadership. Depending on need, it is possible the full-time assistant could start in Fall 2014 instead of Spring 2014, deferring an additional 6 months of cost of that person’s salary.
Summer 2014: An undergraduate student will be employed by the center.
June 2014: The first review of the Statistical Consulting Center and director will be performed, and subsequent reviews will be performed annually.
The objective of the Statistical Consulting Center is to provide satisfactory statistical consulting to researchers across campus. Use of the consulting services by diverse researchers, combined with measurable outcomes of productive research (related publications and grants) will be the main measures of success of the center. We will gauge initial success by an increase in usage over the first three years to the extent the director and staff are working to their full capacity.
The Statistical Consulting Center (SCC) success will be measured by several methods.
I. An online survey will be administered to all clients following use of services. This will serve as a tool for gauging client satisfaction and areas for improvement. It will also help in the evaluation and training of all consultants (i.e., for both dedicated employees and students). Responses from clients will be saved for evaluation purposes.
II. Usage statistics:
(1) Number of clients per semester;
(2) Number of hours per client per semester;
(3) Number of grants submitted after using SCC services for proposals;
(4) Number of grants funded after using SCC services for proposals;
(5) Number of publications submitted for work that used SCC services;
(6) Number of publications accepted for work that used SCC services;
(7) Number of departments or research groups using the center per semester.
III. In addition, the Statistical Consulting Center Director will go through an annual review process in the Department of Mathematical Sciences.
|If assessed objectives are not met in the timeframe outlined what is the plan to sunset this proposal?|
If, after three years, there is not an adequate use of the service by researchers (as measured by full time work for the director and staff and the usage statistics described above), funding will be discontinued after the fourth year. However, we do not anticipate any problems meeting the objectives given the identified interest on campus (see list of people and groups supporting this proposal) and the resources we are requesting.
|Department Head:||Ken Bowers (firstname.lastname@example.org)|
|Dean/Director:||Paula Lutz (email@example.com)|
|Executive/VP:||Tom Mccoy (firstname.lastname@example.org)|