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The Design and Biostatistics Resource (DBR) provides a wide range of design, statistical, and analytical support services to assist CUMC faculty members in garnering grant support and publishing study results. In conjunction with the Biostatistics Consulting Service (BCS) in the Department of Biostatistics of the Mailman School of Public Health, DBR provides support through consultations - both one-on-one and group – for statistical support and data management services. DBR is led by Dr. Roger Vaughan, who is supported by a very experienced team of experts including: Melissa Begg, Jimmy Duong, Diane Levy, William Friedewald, and Shing Lee.

DBR Services

 
Statistical Support
A request for DBR statistical support begins with the completion of the online form, followed by a one-hour consultation. After the initial consult, DBR offers up to five hours of free follow-up statistical support for:

  • additional data analyses
  • sample size and power calculations
  • hypothesis refinement
  • study design guidance
  • manuscript preparation
  • grant submission assistance

Longer-term collaborative arrangements with appropriate financial support are also possible.

Data Management Services
A request for DBR data management services begins with the completion of the online form, followed by a free one-hour consultation with a staff member to discuss data management requirements. If the consultation has been requested before a grant proposal has been written, our data manager will help the investigator design a data management plan with associated budget requirements. If the investigator has already begun to collect data prior to the consultation, the data manager will provide guidelines for moving data into a properly formatted, secure environment.

Data management consultations provide guidance on the following aspects of a project:
  • options for data collection instruments (i.e. questionnaires; paper vs. electronic; output from monitors, etc.)
  • clarification and guidance in selecting data management tools, such as desktop databases with customized data entry screens for small projects, customized web based applications utilizing industry standard relational database systems for large multi-site projects, or the REDCap data management system for more rapid development on the Internet with less customization
  • evaluation of security and backup options for storage of data
  • requirements for datasets for analysis
  • guidelines for moving existing data into a properly formatted, secure environment

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I access these services?
The first step is to think carefully about what you need - perhaps you are not really ready for data analysis, but actually need help thinking about how to define the variables, construct hypotheses, and plan analyses. Then, fill out and submit a request form.

What will happen to my request form?
Your form will be reviewed by a DBR statistician and/or data manager and you will be contacted for an appointment, or referred to an appropriate alternative resource.

How long will it take?
You will usually be contacted within a day or two to make an appointment, but in periods of high demand, it may take up to two weeks to get an appointment.

How far in advance should I contact the DBR?
At least 6 weeks before a grant or paper is due, or at least 4 weeks before an analysis is needed.

What will happen at the appointment?
For statistical requests:
After completion of an online request, the requestor meets with a faculty member from the Department of Biostatistics, a Masters level statistician, and possibly one or more biostatistics graduate students for an initial visit, which should last no more than an hour. This is typically enough time to understand the scope of the research or request, and define next steps.
DBR staff will then spend up to 4 hours of additional time working to complete your request. After the initial visit, “behind the scenes” work might include a class of deliverables such as: the computation of simple power analyses, effect size calculation, or sample size calculations; written advice on experimental designs; comments on the appropriateness of proposed analytic models; or written advice on proper analytic models.
The statistical consult will conclude with either a second face to face follow-up visit to discuss results, or an email with a detailed explanation of results for simpler tasks.

For data management service requests:
After completion of an online request, the requestor meets with one of our staff members to discuss the data management requirements during a free one-hour consultation. If the consultation has been requested before a grant proposal has been written, our data manager will help the investigator design a data management plan with associated budget requirements. If an investigator has already begun to collect data, prior to the consultation, the data manager will provide guidelines for moving data into a properly formatted, secure environment.

The data management consult will conclude with either a written report outlining a data management plan, or second meeting to discuss suggestions in more detail.

How much does it cost?
We provide these consulting services to the CUMC research community free of charge. More extensive collaborations require formal support and can be referred to Biostatistics faculty for availability.

Who is this service for?
Priority is given to faculty and research scientists at CUMC who do not have their own departmental or institutional resources for study design and biostatistics. DBR services are not available to students. Applicants must have a valid CU ID and an eRA-Commons username.

What if I want to learn more about research design and biostatistics?
Consult the list of Design and Biostatistical References
If you are interested in more formal training you may consider pursuing a research degree, such as the Master of Science in Biostatistics, Clinical Research Methods track, or the Patient Oriented Research track. There is also a five week summer program for fellows and faculty, The Columbia Summer Research Institute

For details on other training opportunities, see TRANSFORM.


Roger Vaughn Roger D. Vaughan, DrPH 
Director, DBR
rdv2@columbia.edu

 

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