The Center for Statistics and Advance Analytics provides support to Boston College researchers related to the collection and the analysis of data.  This includes Data Science, Geographic Information Systems, Machine Learning, Qualitative and Mixed Methods, Statistics, and Visualization. Hardware is available to run large analyses, as are file systems to store data. Staff members are available for consulting, and for grant support. 

Steering Commitee

The Center is guided by faculty members.  We will be adding more faculty members to the steering committee soon.  The steering committee will consist of faculty members from a wide range of disciplines.  Steering committee members may be available for collaboration on research and grants.  Please contact them if you have ideas.

What We Do

Statistics and Research Methods

We offer statistical consulting to researchers, faculty and student involved in research at Boston College.  We provide consultation on all aspects of data collection, analysis and interpretation.  We seek to promote high-quality use of statistical methods and presentation of data in grant proposals, manuscripts, and dissertations.  We recommend that you contact us at the very earliest stage of your research.   We aim to play an effective role as a member of your research team.  We can assist in the following areas:

Grant Preparation

This is an important and valued part of our mission to aid in high-quality research at Boston College.  Our staff includes statisticians that have been funded currently and in the past by the NIH.  Grant Preparation is in iterative process between the statistician and principal investigator and therefore we recommend contacting us in the early stages of your grant preparation.

For grant submissions we provide power analyses, experimental design, and data analysis plans written by our statisticians.  We also provide grant review for proposals. 

We can also provide statistical services once your grant in funded and our statisticians can be listed as co-investigators or key personal.

Data Management

We provide guidance on all aspects of data management.  This includes the development of Case Report Forms, data structures, and coding of data appropriate for your analysis.  Our goal is to ensure that you collect data in a meaningful way so that your research questions can be properly analyzed.  In modern studies data cleaning should be minimized by effective data gathering.  We also provide assistance with popular data capturing software.   Currently we specialize in Qualtrics and REDCap.

Experimental Design

We assist in the effective collection of your data, designing the experiment to minimize bias.  We aid with randomization procedures and guide you regarding the most appropriate statistical methodology.

Data Analysis and Statistical Modeling

Through our professional statisticians and statistically strong graduate students we are qualified to provide you with consultation and guidance.  Our aim is to be current with all modern statistical methods while providing aid with standard procedures.  


We will discuss your data, experimental design, and research questions so we can provide you a data analysis plan.  After your data is analyzed we will help with the interpretation of results so that you can report your findings responsibly and accurately. 

For larger datasets we will work with members of the Research Services on the use of the Linux cluster for analyses that are computationally intense. 

After your data has been analyzed we will assist you in presentation of the data for the manuscripts, posters, and dissertations.  Our statisticians can write or aid in the writing of methods and results sections.   We will help and offer advice on graphical presentations of your data and findings.  We hope to work with you to produce publication level graphics.

We can work with graduate students to review their dissertations so that they report statistical analysis reports accurately.

Software Support

Our staff has expertise in several statistical software packages.  This include R, SAS. SPSS, Matlab, Stata, and Excel.  We have some knowledge of other software as well.  We can answer your questions and provide support on the use of these programs.

Geographic Information Systems

A geographic information system (GIS) lets us capture, store, visualize, analyze, and interpret geo-located data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends. GIS applications such as ArcGIS, QGIS, Google Earth, Google Maps, Bing Maps, and MapQuest are widely used, as are searches for U.S. Census Bureau and global census, and information about social, economic, public health, weather, climate, and environment data. GIS may be employed in a variety of disciplines including: agriculture, archaeology, business, cartography, defense and intelligence, education, geography, government, health and human services, remote sensing, land surveying, natural resources, navigation, public safety, public utility management, transportation, and urban planning. Boston College supports the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in teaching, research and administrative projects. Research Services provides support for software, training options, and consultation.

Data Sources

Some GIS data is available to the Boston College community through the Library.  For more information, see: libguides.bc.edu/c.php?g=44055&p=279801. 

Another important data resource is maintained by the State of Massachusetts:

www.mass.gov/anf/research-and-tech/it-serv-and-support/application-serv/office-of-geographic-information-massgis

Other resources are available from Environment Systems Research Institute (ESRI), US federal and state agencies, as well as from international organizations.. We work with Boston College faculty and students to facilitate access to data and find other venues to obtain data for specific teaching and research projects.

Examples of GIS Projects at Boston College

At Boston College, faculty and students use GIS in a wide spectrum of projects to analyze geospatial data related to: Census and population change, Health care practices, Geo-economics, Environmental studies, Mapping of natural hazards, hydrological studies, Global Health, iistorical studies, and administrative applications.

For example, the Department of Facilities Management staff use GIS to manage campus facilities, create campus base maps, and integrate information in a unified system that can be utilized by many university services. Faculty and students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences use GIS to address environmental monitoring, climate change, natural hazards, and pollution studies. Faculty and students in the Lynch School of education use GIS to study urban ecology, examine food deserts, and learn to document environmental noise and air pollution. Applications in the School of Social Work include studies of social and spatial drivers of inequality in health and well-being. Studies by faculty and students in the History department utilize GIS to analyze archeological sites and address the evolution of historical events.

We have an annual student contest where research using GIS is presented with a collection of GIS poster contributions.

Software

Boston College has a site license for ArcGIS software, produced by the Environmental Systems Research Institute  (www.esri.com).   ArcGIS is a versatile, globally known, and well-supported tool. ArcGIS for Desktop enables you to manage data, perform advanced analysis, and display the results on high-quality maps. ArcGIS Online is a collaborative, cloud-based platform that allows members of an organization to use, create, and share maps, apps, and data. ArcGIS Online gives access to a growing collection of maps and datasets published by ESRI and other GIS users. The software can be obtained by contacting your Technology Consultant (TC) or Research Services researchservices@bc.edu .

Online Surveys

Research Services can assist researchers in constructing online surveys.  Online surveys offer a quick and cost-effective method of data collection for research.  An online survey is similar to a paper-based or telephone survey, but allows the survey taker to input data directly into a database.  As with telephone and paper surveys there are methodological considerations specific to online surveys including ensuring representation of the population surveyed and ensuring a random selection of respondents.  There are also privacy and security considerations specific to online surveys. Online surveys may be taken by anyone with access to a Web browser and the Internet. Qualtrics and REDCap, two widely used online survey tools are available to faculty, students and staff at Boston College.

Research Services offers free Getting Started with Qualtrics, and Getting Started With REDCap tutorials every semester, including the summer, as well as other tutorials and workshops. Research Services is also available to develop customized tutorials or in class lectures on survey design using Qualtrics or REDCap as well as other research related topics by contacting: researchservices@bc.edu.

If you are conducting survey research at Boston College, it is important to make sure that your specific online research complies with the policies of the Office of Research Integrity and Compliance (www.bc.edu/research/office-for-research-protections) and your funding agency. Research Services can assist with ensuring that your Qualtrics or other surveys comply with the necessary requirements, including security.

If currently available online survey design tools do not meet your needs, Research Services staff will consult with you about other options such as designing a custom survey or hosting your survey on a secure server at Boston College.

For more information about surveys, contact Rani Dalgin (rani.dalgin@bc.edu or researchservices@bc.edu).