Statistical Report Review (Draft)

Beginning May 2009, the Department of Biostatistics instituted a periodic constructive review of statistical reports prepared for collaborators by faculty and staff biostatisticians in the department.

Purposes of Reviews

Non-supervisors will review reports in order to:
  • Provide suggestions from colleagues who may be expert in certain areas (e.g., statistical programming)
  • Continually improve:
    • technical writing
    • statistical analysis skills
    • use of reproducible research
    • appearance of and ability to communicate with graphics
  • Reward outstanding reports through prizes, having the statistician present the report at a seminar or clinic, or (with collaborator permission) having parts of their reports displayed on the hallway monitor
  • Help the Department collect an archive of outstanding reports to be shared with department biostatisticians for their continuing education

Areas Covered in Reviews

  • Technical writing, including:
    • Quality summaries and references that a collaborator can insert into a grant proposal or manuscript
    • Quality of explanations of analysis methods and interpretation of results to collaborators
    • General clarity of writing
  • Appropriateness of statistical analysis
  • Quality of statistical graphics, specifically:
    • accuracy
    • informativeness
    • absence of optical distortions
    • little to no need for remote legends
    • readiness for publication, where applicable
  • Programming efficiency from a person-time perspective
  • Use of good programming practices as described in ProgrammingTipsForStatisticians

Reports should be submitted in a format so that commands that produced each calculation, graphic, or table accompany that output. Users of Sweave will have an advantage in this regard, when they use Sweave defaults that shows all of the code.

Frequency of Reviews and Feedback to Supervisors

Each statistician producing statistical reports should submit a report for review quarterly. There will be a few exceptions when the statistician's supervisor already provides thorough reviews. Reviewers will seldom (is it OK to change this to "will not"?) be direct supervisors. The reviewer will provide comments to the statistician by marking on the report, and will provide a general impression to the supervisor (e.g., "above average", "average", "improvements needed").

Review Committee

The Chair will assemble a committee of approximately 10 individuals who are competent in statistical computing. Reviews will be assigned sequentially, cycling through the list to give a maximum break between reviews. The department will develop a reward for completing reviews, such as some limited travel funds.

The committee members and dates they have completed reviews are found below. Please let Frank know if you are interested in being a reviewer.


I made a few edits to hopefully improve the flow and presentation. I thought the example for good programming practices is probably unnecessary since the link is present. - Jennifer
Topic revision: r2 - 24 Apr 2009, JenniferThompson

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