Tips and Tricks when Doing a Statistics Family Medicine Resident Project
If you want to do a resident project that involves collecting data and requires statistical analysis, here are some tips of how you can go about that. Keep in mind that you are responsible for doing the work, and should be prepared to know how to collect data, enter data, run your own analysis and interpret your findings, though some resources are available to assist you.
Before you start collecting data, find somebody you can discuss your plan and statistical needs with. It could be your project supervisor, your resident project site coordinator and/or somebody else who can help you who is experienced with statistics. Resident project site coordinators can help you find someone to assist you. Also the Dalhousie University Research Methods Unit (see below) can be consulted. There will likely be a cost associated with receiving assistance, and these should be appropriately budgeted. Each resident has access to $50 towards their resident project. Additional funds would require an application with proposal and budget to your resident project site coordinator. Funding is at the discretion of the Department.
Dalhousie Research Methods Unit
If you need more sophisticated help you can consult with the Dalhousie Research Methods Unit. The initial consultation with them is free.
Several software packages are available to assist with statistical analysis and they often have helpful tutorials. Here are some examples:
Minitab is likely the easiest solution to your statistical software needs. You can directly enter your data in Minitab or import from Excel. The Windows-only program is free of charge from the Dalhousie website. Minitab is useful for basic statistics, regression, ANOVA, reliability and survival analysis.
Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) is a popular statistical analysis program that is fairly easy to learn with several resources available. Only Dalhousie University faculty can download SPSS programs. Resident project site coordinators can sometimes assist in finding access to a computer with SPSS.
Microsoft Excel is included in most Microsoft Office suites and can be used to conduct some basic statistics and creates attractive charts and graphs. However, a quick Google search will provide concerns as the reliability of its statistical analysis accuracy, so use with caution. You can use Microsoft Excel sheets to enter data. These Excel sheets can be easily imported to the statistical package Minitab. In theory you can also import the Excel data sheet in SPSS but it has caused some problems in the past.
Here are some pages and videos that may help with Excel sheets:
- Statistics with Excel [PDF - 59 KB]
- Using Excel for Statistical Data Analysis - Caveats
- Excel statistical functions - Training
- Excel Statistics 01: Intro To Excel 2007 for Statistics
Statistical Analysis Software (SAS)
If you require more advanced statistical techniques than the above options provide, you may want to use SAS or STATA, and unless you have advanced training and experience, you will likely need to hire assistance. It is recommended you consult with your supervisor, resident project site coordinator and/or the Research Methods Unit.
R is free software for statistical computing and graphics. It compiles and runs on a wide variety of platforms such as Windows and MacOS. You can download it here.