Preparing for Your Consultation

When preparing for a CCaTS Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design (BERD) Resource consultation, consider these tips.

Be patient

The most effective consultations begin with a clear explanation of the research project's aims, hypotheses and methods. In many cases, a brief description of what the methods entail, in lay terms, is essential. The consultants, while familiar with general medical terminology and procedures, may not have an in-depth understanding of your specific topic of research. The more the consultants understand your area of research, the more constructive the consultation will be.

Have realistic expectations

A consultation is just that — a consultation. Due to demands for these services, we are not able to meet investigators' long-term needs for biostatistical support. If the investigator would benefit from regular biostatistical involvement, we can help coordinate a working relationship with the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences (must be logged in to the Mayo Clinic network).

Come prepared

The protocol should be brought to the consultation even if it's only in rough draft form. Implementation of the planned analysis is part of reproducible research, and the protocol should contain relevant information regarding the aims and hypotheses. The consultation process can help formalize the analysis plan. In addition, relevant literature regarding the research is important, especially if the consultation involves sample size estimation or discussion of analysis results. Some investigators elect to bring a copy of their database to discuss implementation of their analysis, but this is optional.

Consider appropriate citations

BERD resources are funded in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. The proper citation information for publications is found on the Citing CTSA in Publications page. In addition, authorship may be warranted for the statistical consultants. We determine authorship consideration based on the guidelines published by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. In cases where authorship criteria are not met, discuss with the consultant whether an acknowledgement is appropriate. Often, an acknowledgement conveys the responsibility of authorship without the scientific recognition that authorship carries.

Check out a biostatistics online module

The CCaTS biostatistics online module "Working with the Statistician" is available for Mayo Clinic investigators. This brief training module will help you prepare for a productive consultation session. Since access to the consultation resource can be limited, we encourage all new investigators to take this online module before scheduling a consultation.

Additional BERD Resources


Resources for Mayo Clinic staff and students (log in to the Mayo Clinic network)