Statistics and Decision Analysis

Statistics and Decision Analysis academic platform provides expertise in the data, quantitative, and statistical aspects of basic science, clinical, imaging, and health services research carried out at Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health as well as Melbourne Brain Centre.

About Statistics and Decision Analysis

Expertise

How we operate

Training and development opportunities

The primary goal of the academic platform is to support all the staff and postgraduate students with their research, as well as to assist external public bodies and private companies on a commercial basis. To achieve this goal, we focus our activities on the following three major interrelated themes:

  • Through collaboration with Melbourne Brain Centre researchers and our external clients, we provide expert assistance with research study design, analysis, and data management issues through all phases of a research study – from formulating a research plan and a study protocol to writing up the results;
  • We offer a range of training and development opportunities in the areas of study design, statistical analysis, and quantitative modelling
  • We conduct methodological research with the aim to provide tailored and rigorous quantitative methods to support evidence-based decision making in basic, clinical, and health services research.

The platform serves as a hub for collaboration within the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and with other Australian and international research institutions in the areas of statistical, data, and decision modelling. Within Melbourne Brain Centre we collaborate with basic science, clinical, and imaging neuroscience researchers. Academic platform’s external collaborators and clients include researchers and clinicians at Austin, Melbourne, Southern, Eastern, and Barwon Health Services and Royal Children’s Hospital  and  Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Victoria; Hunter Medical Research Institute in New South Wales; Australian National Stroke Foundation;  Australasian Stroke Trials Network; as well as researchers from The University of Melbourne, RMIT University, Monash University, and University of Ballarat in Australia and various universities and research institutes across the globe, including USA, UK, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Norway, and Sweden.

We provide consulting services to health services policy makers at Victorian Department of Health and to a number of clinical research organizations, including Neuroscience Trials Australia - an Australian-based, not-for-profit contract research organisation specialising in clinical research.

Expertise

We have specific expertise in design and analysis of animal experiments, all phases of human clinical trials, disease incidence studies, clinical registries, rehabilitation and allied health studies, inter- and intra-rater reliability studies, meta-analyses, studies with ordinal, survival, or count outcomes, imaging studies, and health services research studies including process of care models, systems modelling, optimization and simulation.

We collaborate on, and provide advice and consulting services regarding:

  • Statistical and design aspects of:
  • Protocol development
  • Ethics application development
  • External bodies funding application development
  • Presentations and writing up the results

Study design:

  • Refinement of research hypotheses and questions
  • Selection of appropriate outcome measures and measurement scales, stratification, and blocking mechanisms
  • Questionnaire design
  • Effect size elicitation from the literature through meta-analysis
  • Power analysis and sample size calculations
  • Creation of randomisation schedules

Statistical analysis:

  • Analysis planning
  • Statistical analysis
  • Programming of tables, listings and figures
  • Analysis services to Data Safety Monitoring Boards, including conducting interim analyses and statistical monitoring

Data management:

  • Specification and validation of data structures and data handling procedures
  • Design and maintenance of databases, electronic case report forms, and data entry screens
  • Validation/Consistency check programming
  • Development and Validation of Data Management Plans
  • Data capture and cleaning
  • Creating data sets from scanned forms

How we operate

When to involve us

We prefer to be involved in projects as early as possible, so that we participate in as many aspects of the research design and conduct as possible. We both preach and practice the idea that the experts in design and analysis should serve as research project’s midwives, not post-mortem analysts. Most importantly, we would like to believe that there is a big difference between the Statistics and Decision Analysis Platform and a Rapid Response Unit or a Fire Brigade. If you have a deadline please discuss this with us well in advance.

Financial considerations

Our activities can take various forms ranging from one-off consultations to on-going support and collaboration for the lifetime of a project.

We operate on a cost-recovery basis, thus:

  • An initial 1 hour consultation is free;
  • Further consultations are charged (a variety of options depending on the nature of our involvement) – for more information please contact stats at florey;
  • If our involvement is envisaged, please remember to allocate some funding for statistical and data management support when preparing a funding application for your study

Initial consultation

In order to organise an initial consultation, please send an e-mail to stats at florey with the subject line “Initial statistical consultation request”. We will get back to you usually within 48-72 hours to organize the consultation.

Please note:

  • Florey Post-doctoral/clinical fellows and PhD students are recommended to ensure the support of their supervisors and/or lab heads before requesting assistance;
  • Melbourne Brain Centre and Austin post-doctoral/clinical fellows and PhD students are requested to obtain the support of their Department Heads/Deputy Heads (Research) before requesting assistance;
  • Austin “Scholarly Selective” junior researchers are required to obtain the support of their supervisors;

All potential clients and collaborators from outside Melbourne Brain Centre and Austin Health are welcome to contact stats at florey directly.

Intellectual contribution and co-authorship

If we make an intellectual and scientific contribution to the project, then co-authorship of resulting papers is appropriate. The co-authorship is about intellectual contribution and therefore is an issue independent from financial considerations. Co-authorship cannot be used as a payment in kind and neither is payment a substitute for co-authorship. The way we operate on this issue is based on two major guidelines:

  • The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (NHMRC, 2007). To warrant a co-authorship, it requires a substantial contribution to the work in a combination of conception and design of the project, analysis and interpretation of research data, and drafting significant parts of the work or critically revising it so as to contribute to the interpretation;
  • World Association of Medical editors (WAME) guidelines on plagiarism (defined as “Failure to recognise intellectual contributions of others”) as scientific misconduct.

Training and development opportunities

More information on this topic for Florey staff and students can be found on the Statistics and Decision Analysis platform pages of the Florey Nucleus

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