What does SCRS do?

SCRS provides high-quality statistical and research consulting and collaboration on the campus of Montana State University in Bozeman.  Statistical consultants at SCRS assist researchers in the entire research process: study design and methodology, alignment of research questions with statistical analysis, data visualization, analysis and modeling, interpretation and dissemination of results. 

To whom does SCRS provide services?

SCRS provides services to researchers associated with Montana INBRE and Mountain West CTR-IN, as well as general assistance to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff.  The majority of our clients are affiliated with MSU, but we have worked with external clients as well.

Where is SCRS located?

103 AJM Johnson Hall on Montana State University campus in Bozeman.

Expectations of the relationship between the consultants and the client?

SCRS views the relationship with our clients as collaborative. Our goal is to assist the researcher in planning, defining, and developing their research as well as answering their questions of interest using sound statistical inference. Because of the collaborative nature of our work, communicating with and learning from our clients to better understand their goals is paramount to a successful project. We recognize that our clients are the content experts in their field and we begin by listening and learning in order to best employ our expertise in statistical methodology (both in study design as well as data analysis). It is expected that both the client and the consultants will respond to emails in a timely manner, keep each other informed of changes and updates, and attend all scheduled meetings.

What is the process of receiving statistical consultation through SCRS?

After submitting an online request form, SCRS will contact the client to provide information about when SCRS will be in contact to schedule an initial meeting. If there is a waitlist, the client will receive emails approximately weekly from SCRS administration with updates regarding expected wait time.

A primary and secondary consultant will be assigned to the request and will start communicating with the client prior to the initial meeting. This initial meeting will allow the client an opportunity to describe their research and expectations for SCRS assistance, as well as give the SCRS consultants an opportunity to ask questions and set realistic goals with the client. Together the client and consultants will devise a plan and timeline for the collaboration. Clients will work primarily with a Lead Statistical Consultant, who will be assisted by a Secondary Statistical Consultant. If you are a student at MSU requesting consultation for a project (e.g., thesis, dissertation, capstone), we request that your advisor attend the initial meeting with you. The SCRS Director may also attend the initial meeting.

What should I bring to the initial meeting?

In initial communications with SCRS consultants, information relevant to your research (e.g., research questions, survey instruments, etc.) may be requested by SCRS to help us better prepare for the initial meeting. For the meeting, it is helpful if clients are prepared to explain all aspects of their research that will be relevant to the desired collaboration with SCRS. Therefore anything that may help in this process (laptop, visual displays, etc.) may be useful. For example, it can be helpful to us when clients draw pictures of study designs. The consultants will take notes during the meeting, and you are welcome to as well. Following the initial meeting, SCRS will send meeting notes to all parties summarizing the meeting and next steps to ensure all are in agreement moving forward.

How long should I expect to collaborate with SCRS after the initial meeting has taken place?

Most collaborations take at least 2 weeks following the initial meeting. It takes time to understand a research project well enough to assist in developing a study design, creating graphical displays of data, and analyzing data.  It may take a few meetings to decide on the goals and extent of collaboration. Consultants also take time to engage in internal collaboration and review to ensure quality work incorporating multiple perspectives. Please discuss your timeline at the initial meeting and anytime after if there is any concern.

How can I use the reports provided by SCRS?

We encourage you to use the information we provide in discussions with colleagues. Please do not publish or present any portion of this material without permission from SCRS. We retain copyright for material furnished to you through formal reports.  Please formally acknowledge the grants funding SCRS in the dissemination of your work, even if not using material directly from a formal report.  This is important for continued funding. (See the next FAQ question).

How do I acknowledge SCRS in my presentations and papers?

When you make use of our work for publications or presentations, please be sure to acknowledge the funding we receive from NIGMS using the following: "Research reported in this publication was supported by Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) from the NationalInstitute of General Medical Sciences of theNational Institutes of Health under AwardsP20GM103474 and U54GM104944.  The content is solely the responsibility of theauthors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health." SCRS is funded by NIH grants, so all publications resulting from our work must be deposited to PubMed Central, receive a PMCID number, and be reported to the NIH. Instructions on how to obtain a PMCID number can be found on the National Institutes of Health website

Are there fees associated with SCRS? 

Currently, SCRS is housed in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at MSU and funded by the Department, Montana INBRE, and Mountain West CTR-IN.  For researchers falling outside the umbrella of the NIH IDeA programs, we have some resources to support other researchers but this is a limited capcity and immediate assistance may not be available.

What if I am an MSU undergraduate student? 

We typically consult with graduate student and faculty researchers, although undergraduate research projects that are leading to peer-reviewed journal submissions with faculty members or are tied into larger projects are elligible for possible support through our group. These services are not intended for class projects or homework. Please apply through our regular process by clicking on this request link.  We will contact you to set up a time to chat about your project.

When should I contact SCRS?

The beginning of the study is the best time to seek statistical guidance and begin collaborations with SCRS. If you have yet to collect data, we can provide advice on study design to increase the chances that the data you collect, and associated analyses, align with your study questions and objectives. We also provide guidance on alternative courses of action in case the study does not go as smoothly as planned.

What if I am submitting a grant proposal and want to include SCRS services as part of my grant?

Please fill out the online request form, making it clear you would like assistance with a grant proposal, and the Director will be in contact with you to assist in the correct language and budget requests to include in the grant proposal.  Please make these reqests weel in advance of the grant due date (at least, two weeks and preferably more than a month).

What if I have already collected data?

We recommend contacting SCRS as soon as possible, preferably when you are beginning to think about the study design. If you have already collected data, we will still gladly help you! Please fill out the request form and see the data organization FAQ for standard guidelines.

How should I organize my data so that SCRS can analyze it?

In order for SCRS to produce efficient and reproducible statistical analyzes and to help you in this process as well, it is important for data to be organized in a manner that makes it easy to use.  If you can provide “tidy” data to SCRS, this will allow us to spend more time on your analysis and less time cleaning the data to get them ready for analysis. It is best to save your data in a spreadsheet, as an Excel or csv file.  In particular, be sure that each column represents a different variable with a succinct header, and each row corresponds to a different observation (i.e., long format rather than wide format). Also, please be sure that there is only one header row in the data file. Include metadata in second sheets in the Excel file and/or a seperate file.  SCRS can also provide guidance for helping you do this.