FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

Who can use CSTAT’s services?
Graduate students, faculty, and the MSU staff, individual post docs, adjuncts, and clinicians. Off-campus clients are welcomed and services will be rendered for a fee.

Does CSTAT help with all kinds of statistical research?
We try to help directly or to refer client to others who can help them. Several other MSU service centers provide statistical consulting and/or training, if CSTAT is unable to assist.

How much do CSTAT workshops cost?
Workshops are free of charge to faculty, graduate students and staff. Pre-registration is required for all workshops, as space is limited.

How much do CSTAT consulting services cost?
Consulting for MSU graduate students, staff, and faculty is normally provided without a fee. For extended research assistance or collaboration, a fee or other agreement (such as co-authorship, co-investigator status on a grant) may be negotiated. Fees will be negotiated with non-MSU clients.

How do I request consulting help?
Submit a request form online

Are you the only group that offers this kind of help on campus?
While we are the only group that offers free year round statistical consulting geared towards researchers on the entire campus, there are other groups that offer related services that compliment our services. The SCC and BRIC offer specialized statistical consulting services. Please review our Beyond CSTAT listings of service centers for more information.

Does CSTAT help with coursework?
No. The best person to help you with your coursework is your Teaching Assistant and/or your Professor. Since we are not aware of the teaching goals of your TA or Professor, our assistance may be misleading or counterproductive. Also, your TA, Professor, and/or classmates may feel that obtaining our assistance may be unfair to those who are not helped.

Does CSTAT help with dissertation or other graduate level research?
While grants and publications are very high priority for us, we gladly advise students working on their dissertation. We encounter many students who are not well versed in using statistical packages when they start their analyses, so we strongly encourage all graduate students to start learning SAS, Stata and SPSS early in their graduate career because it takes weeks and months of hands on usage to get a working knowledge of SAS, Stata or SPSS.

What if I have specific questions about my dissertation?
We can help you implement strategies which your advisor/committee has approved. The emphasis is on implementation. For example, if your committee suggests that you perform a certain analysis, we can advise you on how to perform that analysis in SAS, Stata, or SPSS (or whatever package) or we can help you understand the output of the analysis. However, it is not appropriate for ATS consultants to provide the kind of advice which should come from your chairperson or committee members. What kinds of assistance are inappropriate? Our goal is to help as many researchers as possible. Although there is a large gray area demarcating activities that are clearly appropriate from those that are clearly inappropriate, it is generally not proper (or possible) for a consultant to:

• Write programs to perform your data management for you. We can suggest strategies, show you example programs, or outline programs for you, but we cannot write the programs for you.
• Make decisions about how you should analyze your data. We can suggest the various analyses which can be performed on your data, the pros and cons of the analyses, but it is up to you (or you and your advisor/dissertation committee) to decide what analyses you should use.
• Perform data analysis for you.
• Solve very difficult problems to meet imminent deadlines. We strongly recommend allocating enough time for your data analysis. Despite our years of experience, we simply cannot solve two months worth of work in 30 minutes. We can sympathize with you, but cannot solve such problems.

Does CSTAT help Undergraduate students?
Generally, no. However, it may assist undergraduates who are working on non-course work research led by a faculty member.

How long does it take to get help after I submit a consulting request?
We should acknowledge receiving your request within a couple business days, when we add it to our tracking database. We review new consulting requests regularly and try to assign at least some new requests to consultants each week. We will assign your request as soon as we can, but it could take anywhere from a few days to 3 weeks (or longer) depending on the volume of clients we already have, the nature of your project, and the consultant staffing we have available.

Do you teach statistics?
Yes, we offer workshops to faculty, graduate students, and staff that teach a wide range of statistical methodologies. These workshops are free to the attendees. Pre-registration is required.

What if I need to hire a statistician?
We help researchers to locate statisticians, graduate assistants, or collaboraters to work on projects. Our match making services are free of charge to the MSU community.