How do I request statistical assistance for my research?

Submit the on-line request form. Please describe your overall research goals and specific questions on the form so that we may serve you better. You should receive an immediate e-mail receipt of your request and a notification in 2-3 days of the statistical collaborators assigned to your project.

At what stage in my research should I seek statistical advice?

The earlier you do so the better. Few things are more frustrating than learning after the fact that your data are inadequate for valid statistical inference and cannot answer your main research questions. We recommend that you meet with us during the pre-proposal phase of your research.

I want to ask if my experimental design is sound before collecting data. Should I request a meeting?

Yes! Fill out the Request for Collaboration and schedule an appointment. This will allow you time to fully explain the background of your project, your experimental design, and your intended method for analyzing your data (or develop an analysis plan).

What should I bring to the first collaboration meeting?

If you seek our advice on experimental design or planning a survey before gathering your data--and we recommend that you do--bring a clear idea of the purpose of your research: your overall goals, the research questions you would like to answer, and the hypotheses (if any) you want to test.  Copies or links to articles and earlier work on similar topics in your discipline would also be helpful. If you are seeking our advice on data analysis or report writing after collecting data, in addition to the above bring a copy of the data gathering protocol, a file containing the cleaned data, and the results of any analyses already performed--including any plots or graphs. We strongly encourage everyone to plot their data!

Where do I meet my statistical collaborators when I come for assistance?

Meetings are typically held in 203 Fleming Building, 331 ECOT, or at the client's office. Directions can be found online on the campus map.

Who are the statistical collaborators?

The collaborators are faculty and students in the Department of Applied Mathematics, though we hope to include collaborators from other departments in the future. Current collaborators have profiles on our website so you can put a face to the name before your first meeting. In addition, the entire applied math faculty may be available for collaboration on a case-by-case basis if your problem aligns with their research interests.

What are your policies?

We expect clients to come to the meetings prepared, and we expect the statistical collaborators to give good advice and explain it in a way the client understands.  Please take the time to review our policies.

What about coauthorships and recognition?

If a statistical collaborator has made a substantial and specific intellectual contribution to your research, co-authorship on papers is appropriate. This may include designing an experiment or analyzing data for the paper. Here is a list of LISA co-authored publications at CU Boulder.

How is LISA funded?

The start-up funds for LISA Director Eric Vance will fund LISA for the first three years (2016-19). To make LISA sustainable after that we will need continued university support as well as corporate or foundation support. Therefore we request researchers we have helped to become allies of LISA and to do what they can for funding for LISA to continue.

How is LISA evaluated?

At the conclusion of each project, the client will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire evaluating the quality of service he or she experienced. In addition, we request you to send us on letterhead a short description of what we helped you accomplish, what that will enable you to do in the future, and a brief description of how valuable you think LISA is for CU Boulder. Please contact to discuss any issues that arise. Quality feedback including constructive criticism is very important for us! Here are some example letters of support from past LISA clients at Virginia Tech.


Who can use LISA's services?

Our services can be used by all CU Boulder faculty, staff, and students participating in academic research projects. We can arrange to work with outside companies, government agencies, and NGOs.

Can I use the collaboration service if I'm not affiliated with CU Boulder?

Yes. We provide statistical consulting and collaboration services for non-CU Boulder clients. Our rates depend upon the type of work requested and who the statistical collaborator is. We prefer to work on lump-sum contracts, but hourly work is possible. Interested parties should email or call the director to discuss arrangements.

Do you offer walk-in service?

No. To request a meeting you must fill out the meeting request form.

What should I expect to happen at the first meeting?

Before the initial meeting, the statistical collaborators review the client's collaboration request form and any additional information they have sent them. We have found that the most successful collaborations occur if the client sees a statistical collaborator before they start collecting data. If the client already has collected data, the collaborators often find it useful to quickly review the data to get an idea of what will be discussed during the first meeting. So we encourage clients to send a copy of their data to the collaborators before the initial meeting.

Collaboration meetings typically begin with the collaborators asking the client what they would like to accomplish during the time available for the meeting. This sets the agenda for the meeting. The collaborators will also ask about your overall research goals to get a better sense of how to help you answer your specific research questions. They want to know what the big picture is: why are you completing this research and what will the results be used for. After looking at the big picture, the collaborators will ask about your specific project. They will want to know exactly how your experiment was designed and executed, what your variables and data are, and what you are most interested in finding out from that data. Having a detailed understanding of the why and how of your project allows the collaborators to decide what is the most appropriate statistical method to use to answer your research questions.

At the end of the meeting, the collaborators will summarize what happened during the meeting including any decisions that were made.

The next steps for the project will be discussed. Sometimes, follow-up meetings are scheduled.

How do I make the most of my time?

Below are a few tips for making the most of your time with our statistical collaborators:

1. Know your project and have thought about ways to explain it to individuals outside of your major field of study.

2. Send informative project information to your collaborators before the first meeting.

a. When sending technical papers, please consider whether or not people outside of your field will be able to understand them.

3. If you already have data, try to have this data cleaned before coming to the first meeting.

a. Verify that all data is inputted correctly.

b. Visually scan the data for things that appear out of place – are certain values really outliers or was the value entered incorrectly?

c. Consider what missing values mean and be prepared to explain this to your collaborators.

i. Does a 0 mean that there was no measured value? Or does it really mean no data were collected?

ii. If no data were collected, is there a specific reason for this? Is the lack of data somehow informative?

4. Be prepared and on time for your meeting.

a. If your scheduled meeting is from 1:00-2:00pm and you arrive at 1:15, you should still expect your meeting to end at 2:00pm.

b. Be sure you bring relevant information and data to your meetings.

c. If you have preformed any preliminary data analysis, bring it to the first meeting.

d. It can often be extremely beneficial to simply plot your data before performing any statistical analysis. This allows you to visually see any trends and catch any outliers.

e. Be prepared to explain your project, especially your overall research goals, specific scientific questions, experimental design, and what your data are.

5. If at any point during a meeting you do not understand something the collaborator has explained or asked, ask them to clarify.

6. At the end of a meeting, there will be a discussion about what the next steps in the project are.

a. If it is agreed that you will send additional information or update your data, please do so as soon as you can. This will ensure that both you and the collaborators are prepared for your next meeting.

I would like to include statistical collaborators in a grant. What should I know?

Clients who engage in sponsored research are encouraged to include statistical consulting and collaboration in research proposals or pay for services from existing grants. This can take the form of a direct-cost line item, a full or partial graduate research assistantship, or partial funding of a faculty member's salary.

We prefer being paid a flat fee for our work rather than charge on an hourly basis. Our hourly rates depend upon the type of work requested and who the statistical collaborator is. We typically propose between $40 and $125 per hour for graduate student statisticians and between $250 and $350 per hour for faculty members. Interested parties should email or call the director to discuss arrangements.

Can I use LISA for assistance on a class project?

No. Assistance from LISA is for academic research or data-based decision making. We do not assist with class projects or homework.

Do you offer telephone service?

Telephones? No. Skype or Google Hangout (VOIP), Yes! If you are outside the Boulder area, we can arrange a videoconference meeting with you over Skype. Submit a request for a meeting via Skype or Google Hangout.

Is LISA open during the Summer?

No. We are not funded during the summer. Therefore LISA ceases normal operations between May 1 and August 28, 2017. To ensure that you will be able meet with a LISA statistician during Fall 2017, submit a collaboration request now to be placed on the Fall 2017 Waitlist: meeting request form.

When was this FAQ last updated?

Probably way back in Fall 2016, except for this question which was updated on August 26, 2022.