Advise on Hiring a Statistical Consultant for your Grad Research
Understand your program policies
Graduate programs typically expect that your research be your own work. Statistical consultation can exceed your program’s boundaries. Be sure to talk with your faculty advisors before working with a consultant. Additionally, be aware that you are expected to give appropriate credit to statistical consultants. For published work, appropriate attribution may even include co-authorship. According to the APA Publication Manual,
Substantial professional contributions may include formulating the problem or hypothesis, structuring the experimental design, organizing and conducting the statistical analysis, interpreting the results, or writing a major portion of the paper
Look for an on-campus statistical consulting lab
Many research universities have a consulting lab. These are typically attached to a statistics or math department, library, medical center (biostats), or occasional some other department (e.g. agriculture, education). These programs often offer free or deeply discounted prices for students.
What to look for in a statistical consultant
According to the American Statistical Association, one should seek a consultant with expertise in the area of statistics that is relevant to the research questions (2013). Statistics is a very broad field. No expert can be simultaneously well-versed in all methods.
The ASA also suggest you look for a consultant who:
- Has a good general knowledge of statistics, and keeps up-to-date with the current literature
- Is comfortable to work with (you’ll have lots of dialog with this person!)
- Is a good listener who asks probing, relevant questions
- Has excellent written and oral communication skills
- Is able to meet deadlines while producing high-quality work
Beware of the consultant who claims to do it all, this may be a sign of overselling.
Individual consultants usually have a preference for per-project or hourly arrangements. Consulting fees vary immensely. While some graduate students may be available for $30 per hour, senior researchers can charge $175 or more. A typical Ph.D. might charge $80-$100/hour.
Where to find statistical consultants
- ASA consulting directory
- Faculty advisor or statistics department recommendations
- Freelance websites (e.g. upwork.com or guru.com
- Online statistical consulting companies
- American Psychological, A. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.. ed.). Washington, DC: Washington, DC : American Psychological Association.
- American Statistical Association. (2013). When you consult a statistician... what to expect.