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Consultant’s Corner: A New Column for Consultants

1 March 2017 89 views No Comment
This column is written for anyone engaged in or interested in statistical consulting. It includes articles ranging from what starting a consulting business would entail to what could be taught in a consulting course. If you have ideas for articles, contact the ASA’s Section on Statistical Consulting publication’s officer, Mary Kwasny.

Contributing editor Mary Kwasny is an associate professor in the department of preventive medicine and an active member of the Biostatistics Collaboration Center at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine. She has been enjoying the art of statistical consulting and collaboration for more than 20 years in academic medical centers and external non-profits.

What does a publications officer of a section do? Admittedly, there are differences in sections, and while most sections have a newsletter, many sections also have a newsletter editor in addition to a publication’s officer. This is true for the Section on Statistical Consulting.

So, when I was fortunate to be elected the publications officer of the Statistical Consulting Section, I was not really sure what the job entailed. The Section’s charter states the following:

The publication’s officer shall coordinate paper and electronic publications associated with the section including, but not limited to, section columns in Amstat News, proceedings of meetings, and other presentations, but excluding the section newsletter…. When requested by the editors, the publications officer shall assist in soliciting, reading, and editing articles on statistical consulting for publication in the association’s journals.

Sure enough, the institutional memory of the position seemed to allow a lot of leeway in my interpretation of the job—and anyone who knows me, knows I have a lot more faith in the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. So I thought if the function of the newsletter was to communicate the “goings on” of the section to the section, then the publications officer should be responsible for communicating those “goings on” to the greater ASA. So, what “goings on” would we communicate with the greater ASA and how?

Since ASA Connect launched, it has been clear to me that some sections are very active and some not so much. The Section on Statistical Consulting has an incredibly active discussion board; it was primarily that section that led me to ask how to change my settings to a daily digest, rather than real time. The discussions range from starting a consulting business to whether insurance for that business is a good idea, from how best to predict which clients might have projects that take much longer than the client or even the consultant might expect to advantages and disadvantages of billing at intervals or at project’s end. There was a very active debate when the definitions of consultants and collaborators were contrasted. Needless to say, I believe there are many “goings on” of the section that might appeal to the greater ASA audience.

I do not have a master’s degree, but I truly enjoy reading the Master’s Notebook. I was curious to see if there could be a corner of Amstat News concerned with “all things consulting,” akin to the Master’s Notebook. Chuck Kincaid, the current chair of the section, and I pitched the idea, and we got a go ahead to try it! So, be on the lookout for the Consultant’s Corner!

We are excited to launch this idea next month, with articles ranging from what starting a consulting business would entail to issues that could be taught in a consulting course to other issues that statistical consultants might face. My guess is there are many great ideas for best practices of consulting, as well as many great stories about consults that have made an impact on the world.

If you have ideas for articles (questions you would like answered about consulting practice or your own stories), please forward them to me at m-kwasny@northwestern.edu. I will happily liaison between the readers and the section so this corner may be a great way to encourage, enlighten, and entertain.

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