Chances are that, despite being an expert in education, psychology, management, etc., you aren’t a statistician. And you don’t need to be—generally speaking, becoming a PhD means becoming an expert in your specific field of study, not becoming an expert in designing a statistically sound study or in analyzing data. Therefore, one of the most beneficial steps you can take toward completing a statistically sound dissertation study is hiring a qualified statistician.
Below, we will answer some of the most common questions we get with regard to hiring a statistician. While we highly encourage this practice, we want to ensure that you understand each of the steps involved.
When Should I Start Working with a Statistician?
Ideally, you should hire a statistician to work with you to address the specifics of your research early on in your dissertation process. The earlier the statistician has the opportunity to help you develop your study, the better. A good time to begin the process is once you have completed your literature review, when you really know your topic well but haven’t entirely pinned down the details of your study yet.
A statistician can help you immensely, especially if you’re interested in learning about the data analyses required for your study. Even though you don’t need to become an expert in statistics to earn your degree, it’s still important to develop a basic understanding of the type of statistical tests that are needed for your research. You will learn quite a bit about statistics and statistical analysis by working with a statistician—far more than you would learn by trying to run such analyses yourself.
A word of caution: If you approach a statistician once your data has already been analyzed, they will likely not be willing to just “check” your results. Most statisticians will tell you that they will need to analyze all of your data again, which can delay the completion of your study. That’s why it’s better to be proactive and seek help early in the dissertation process so that you don’t end up needing urgent assistance with your data analysis at the final hour. The reason why statisticians almost always prefer to analyze the data again is that, unless you work with a statistician at every stage in the data analysis process, it is simply too difficult for a statistician to understand your process (much less correct it) based upon the end results alone.
What are the Benefits of Working With a Statistician?
A statistician can be a great help through all stages of the dissertation process. They can assist you with developing your research design and methodology, data analysis, and results. Furthermore, they will collaborate closely with you to teach you about each of these components in order to ensure that you complete them accurately.
Oftentimes, students without a strong background in statistics who do not have a statistician on their committee will make it through the initial proposal stage with incorrect, poorly explained, or overly complicated statistical models. A statistician can not only help you with the final steps in your dissertation but also with these surprisingly challenging early steps in formulating your study. In particular, they will assist with the development of a research design that is both realistic and achievable.
Most importantly, a statistician will collaborate closely with you to help you understand how every step of the process works. In this manner, you will be fully able to interpret your own data and become proficient in the statistical processes involved, which will prepare you for your dissertation defense.
What Won’t a Statistician Do?
It is your responsibility to be the ultimate expert on your own data and dissertation. A statistician will work with you to ensure that you become an authority at explaining your own data, but the data remains your work, so it’s essential that you fully understand it. Most reputable statisticians will engage in nearly unlimited conversations with you to ensure that you comprehend your data to the point of being able to explain it to others.
Furthermore, statisticians will not comment on or review analyses that are performed by persons other than themselves. Such a request is similar to arriving at work and asking a random coworker how your driving performance was that morning. Unless the coworker was with you in the car, they only know that you made it to work; they have no idea whether or not you hit any pedestrians along the way.
Is it Ethical to Work With a Statistician?
It is perfectly ethical to work with a statistician. In fact, most professional researchers utilize statisticians. First, it’s important to recognize that working with a statistician in no way hinders your future professional goals. Performing complex statistical analyses is generally not a skill that is required of researchers, as it is such a specialized expertise.
Second, if you are considering working with a statistician, make sure to get approval from your committee or program. Find out if your program has particular policies about the use of a statistician. While most programs encourage such collaboration since it reflects postdoctoral and industry experiences, there are exceptions, so make sure that your program isn’t one of them.
Lastly, some researchers working with statisticians in this practical manner consider the experience as equivalent to taking a statistics class—they learn quite a bit about analyzing data, becoming proficient statisticians themselves over time. High quality statisticians will help you understand what they’re doing every step of the way so that you become adept at both explaining your data and at comprehending statistical analysis as a whole.
Feel free to contact our recommended statistician, Omega Statistics, today to see how they can help you!
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