General

Who can use core services?

Core biostatisticians work with internal (Illinois) and external (non-Illinois) researchers, faculty, and staff. This can include postdocs and fellows as long as they are affiliated with an Illinois faculty member or lab.

Graduate student projects are considered on a case-by-case basis, and the proposed work must serve to advance the research and/or funding portfolio of Illinois investigators.

Statistical consulting services geared toward students are also available across campus. For example, the Scholarly Commons at the Main Library offers statistical support for both undergraduate and graduate students. Certain colleges also offer no-cost statistical consulting to their students.

How are projects prioritized?

Projects are assigned a priority level based on the following criteria. Level 2 and 3 priorities are addressed after Level 1 priorities are fulfilled.

  • Level 1 priorities: Grant applications to federal funding agencies (e.g., NIH, NSF); externally funded, peer-reviewed studies focusing on health sciences; internally funded studies
  • Level 2 priorities: Funded projects (e.g., analysis of existing data)
  • Level 3 priorities: Non-funded projects (e.g., data analysis for manuscripts, abstracts, or internal purposes)

How much do core services cost?

See Rates, Invoicing, and Agreements. If you have additional questions about billing and/or charges, please contact Kristi Webster, (kwebster@illinois.edu).

Which statistical software packages do the core biostatisticians use?

Core biostatisticians have access to and experience with the following statistical software packages: 

  • MPlus
  • NQuery Advisor
  • PASS
  • SAS
  • SPSS

For more information about the biostatisticians’ areas of expertise, please see Core Team.

Project Initiation Process

How do I access these services?

To request services, please complete and submit a Project Initiation Form

How far in advance should I contact IHSI for biostatistical services?

We recommend that investigators contact the core to request a consultation as far in advance of deadlines as possible. Please see our recommended timelines here:

 Type of Project

 When to contact core prior to deadline*

 New grant application

 At least 8 weeks

 Internally-funded study

 At least 6 weeks

 Data analysis for publication(s)

 At least 4 weeks

*longer if the study design has yet to be fully developed

Fulfillment of all requests are dependent on the following factors:

  • Availability of biostatisticians and related support
  • Scope of work
  • Urgency of the project

How long will it take to complete my project?

All efforts will be made to schedule an initial consultation meeting to take place within 1-2 weeks from submission of the Project Initiation Form.

Depending on the complexity of the project, the time to provide the requested deliverable(s) ranges from three weeks up to four months. While all efforts will be made to accommodate deadlines, we strongly urge investigators to allow sufficient time to enable core members to work effectively with your team. 

For example, additional time may be needed to add new content and incorporate feedback into the statsitical analysis plan (SAP), or to revise a deliverable based on changes in the data set and discussions with the project team. For those projects which require a SAP, the project PI’s approval of the SAP is required to initiate the analyses.  Moreover, if the direction of the project changes and additional analyses are required, the project timeline will be reassessed.

Please note that biostatistical work cannot begin before a signed agreement is received.

Additionally, if biostatisticians will be working with identifiable data, they are required to be added as research team members. In this case, the following documentation is also required before biostatistical work can begin:

  • Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval letter
  • Amendment to the IRB protocol naming the biostatistician as a research team member

A data use agreement may also be required if identifiable data sets must be used. Data security best practices should be discussed with the biostatistician during the initial consultation meeting. See Protection of Health Information and Human Subjects for more information.

Initial Consultation Meeting

How can I best prepare for the initial consultation meeting?

First, review Illinois Biostatistics Core information, including FAQs, on the IHSI website. Next, please ensure you have submitted a copy of your research proposal or manuscript and 1-2 relevant manuscripts/key papers that will help the biostatistician better understand your project and biostatistical needs. If they were not submitted with the project initiation form, please email them to lsummers@illinois.edu

What can I expect at the initial consultation meeting?

  • A 30-60 minute meeting with an Illinois Biostatistics Core biostatistician/epidemiologist
  • A review of your project, including scope
  • A needs assessment (short-term and long-term)

What can I expect after the initial consultation meeting?

Within one week of the initial consultation, you will receive a summary with the following:

  • Description of deliverable(s)
  • Anticipated completion date(s)
  • Estimated total cost of the project (if applicable)

Core staff will use this summary to generate the appropriate agreement(s), as applicable, and circulate for signature prior to the commencement of biostatstical work.

I need to cancel or reschedule my initial consultation meeting. Who should I contact?

Please contact Leta Summers, (lsummers@illinois.edu).

Working with the Illinois Biostatistics Core at IHSI

What are the expectations for sharing data with the biostatistician?

See Protection of Health Information and Human Subjects for requirements and best practices. If you have questions about these expectations, please contact IHSI Deputy Director John Erdman, (217) 333-2527.

I would like to write biostatistical support into my grant proposal. How do I do this?

If you wish to write biostatistical support into your grant proposal, it is our policy that the Illinois Biostatistics Core at IHSI be included as a consulting service. See Writing Core Services into Grants for more information.

How do I acknowledge work supported by the core?

Please acknowledge Illinois Biostatisics Core support by including the following in your submission(s): "We thank the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute (IHSI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Illinois Biostatistics Core for supporting the work on this project.”

Please also share your success(es) by sending us the title(s), author(s), and/or journal name(s) for the submission(s) or publication(s) in which the core is acknowledged. 

It is our policy to include the biostatistician as co-author for abstracts, manuscripts, posters, presentations, or other materials reporting statistical methods and analyses carried out by, or with significant contributions from, Illinois Biostatistics Core biostatisticians.

What are expectations regarding review of submissions?

As standard practice dictates, core biostatisticians are expected to have the opportunity to review and approve, prior to submission, all final versions of proposals and other products to which they contributed.

I require assistance with a resubmission or renewal of a project previously worked on by a core biostatistician. Do I have to fill out a form again?

We ask that you complete the first and last name fields in a new Project Initiation Form and check “Yes” when asked whether the request is regarding a resubmission or renewal. We will then work to set you up with the biostatistician with whom you previously worked, if available.

I have a question, concern, complain, or suggestion. Who can I contact?

Please contact IHSI Deputy Director John Erdman, (217) 333-2527.

What if the biostatistician assigned to my project is unable to properly complete it?

It may be necessary to replace the biostatistician working on your project due to workload concerns, conflict resolution purposes, or changes in the project requiring a different level or area of expertise. Replacement decisions are made only with consent of all relevant parties.

More Information and Resources

Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice

American Statistical Association Statement on Statistical Significance and P-Values

One in five genetics papers contains errors thanks to Microsoft Excel