Stats consultancy to lend a hand

15 November 2004

Postgraduate students and researchers can now get assistance with the design and analysis of their research thanks to a new statistical consulting service.

Charging a minimal internal fee of R200 per hour, the Statistical Consulting Service (SCS), based in the statistical sciences department, will lend a hand to students and researchers. Initial advice is provided on designs of data collection, from experiments to surveys and observational studies.

According to chief scientific officer Greg Distiller, the service will also provide a degree of interactive training, enabling postgraduate students to understand, defend and conduct their own data analyses.

"While consultations to fourth-year students may be conducted on an individual project basis, group discussions of several projects simultaneously will enable students from a single department to contrast the assumptions and methods involved in various data analyses. They also learn to identify elements that can be handled by them without further direct statistical assistance."

Operating on a cost-recovery basis, the consulting service has two levels of fees - an external rate for clients beyond UCT and a discounted internal rate, which applies to both staff and postgraduate students, with or without research grants.

"UCT postgraduate work attracts significant subsidy and research grants, and the consultation will be a legitimate expense against the corresponding sources of income," Distiller explained.

Besides paying the prescribed fee, those making use of the service are required to acknowledge the SCS and the specific consultants involved in their theses, publications or journal articles arising from the consultations and data analyses.

However, the use of the service by postgrads for an individual project must have the prior knowledge and written or e-mail approval of both the student's principal supervisor and head of department.

For more information please contact Greg Distiller on tel 650 4785 or e-mail

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