Statistical Consulting

The Psychology department is pleased to offer support for Psychology graduate students and faculty undertaking empirical research at Simon Fraser University in the form of highly individualized statistical consulting. This service is provided by a group of faculty and, in the near future, graduate student interns from the Psychology Department.

Consulting topics for which assistance is available include:

  • Research and sample design
  • Quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Questionnaire design
  • Data screening 
  • Statistical graphics
  • Regression, ANOVA, and other linear models
  • Multivariate analysis (e.g., factor analysis, PCA, cluster analysis)
  • Categorical data analysis
  • Longitudinal and multi-level data
  • Structural equation models
  • Statistical computing using R, SAS, and SPSS
  • Meta-Analysis

For more information about the consulting service, please see the Frequently Asked Questions below.

How to Book an Appointment

To make an appointment to see a consultant, please e-mail Dr. Matthew Sigal (personal website) or Dr. Michael Maraun (personal website).

Frequently Asked Questions

We would like to acknowledge that many of the following were adapted from the FAQ prepared by the Statistical Consulting Service at the Institute for Social Research, York University.

What consulting services are offered?

We are available to help at every stage of the research process, from planning a study, through collecting data and statistical analysis, to interpretation of results. Whether a particular service is appropriate depends upon the context of the consultation.

Do I have to pay for help?

In general, consulting services through PMC are provided free of charge to graduate students and faculty from the Psychology department at SFU; however, there are several qualifications:

  • Services that go beyond normal consulting can often be arranged on a fee-for-service basis with our consultants outside their normal duties.
  • Faculty members with research grants are encouraged to include funds for statistical consultation, particularly if they believe they will require continuing assistance.

Do you provide computer assistance for statistical analyses?

While the general answer is yes, the expectation for statistical consulting is not to take over the data analysis process but help guide students and faculty through the logic and implementation. It is often up to the client to conduct the actual analyses on their own. 

Can I get help with my course work?

The impetus for this service is to assist with empirical research. Undergraduate students looking for help with assignments are encouraged to contact the individuals available for tutoring on this page. Graduate students are welcome to e-mail us to see if there is any availability. If there is, we require that the instructor be aware of and approve the assistance that we provide before the consultation.

Can I get help with thesis and dissertation research?

Many of our clients are students undertaking thesis and dissertation research. It is appropriate for a consultant to discuss with a student alternative forms of analysis that may be suitable for their research; to render advice about which of several forms of analysis might be best; to help a student correct a computer-program setup; or to help a student to interpret the output from a statistical computer program.

Because coordination of advice is often important, we expect that a student's supervisory committee be made aware of the help provided to the student by the service.

What sorts of assistance are inappropriate?

Although there is a large grey area demarcating activities that are clearly appropriate from those that are clearly inappropriate, it is generally not proper for a consultant to: 

  • make decisions about how a student should analyze their data;
  • analyze a student's data directly; or
  • write computer-program scripts for a student.

How can I schedule an appointment?

At present, please e-mail Dr. Matthew Sigal or Dr. Michael Maraun to schedule an appointment or inquire about drop-in hours and locations.

How much statistics do I need to know?

We expect clients to have a working knowledge of some basic statistical concepts and methods. What you need to know depends partly on the nature of the research that you are undertaking. We try to provide assistance tailored to the level of knowledge of our clients, and our advice might include suggestions for reading about statistical methods. This service is not a replacement for appropriate coursework.

What will my first session be like?

After you and the consultant introduce yourselves, the consultant will ask for information about your research and ask you what you would like to accomplish during your first session. It is helpful for you to prepare a summary of your research, and you might consider providing this information to the consultant in written form before the first meeting.

We often find that it helps to summarize the design of a study in a diagram or a table. It is generally useful for the consultant to understand the purpose and context of your research, rather than viewing your work as an abstract statistical problem. An initial consultation usually takes a half-hour to an hour.

What if I need more help?

Follow-up appointments may be booked after a need for one is clearly demonstrated and within reason. Many clients tend to have their questions answered completely in a single consultation, but often more contact is required. Frequently, a consultant must do work outside of the consulting sessions to answer a client's questions.

How should I acknowledge help received?

You may acknowledge our assistance in the usual manner if and when your research is published. We would appreciate receiving copies of research that have benefitted from our assistance because documentation of the fruits of our labour is useful to us when applying for funding and assessing the quality of the service. In instances in which a consultant's contribution has been central to a project, you may consider offering co-authorship.