Terms of service
rules of engagement
The ICDS acts for its statistical service in accordance with the ethical code established by the American Statistical Society.
Consultants adhere to the principles of professional and scientific integrity, researchers (clients) are expected to do so as well.
Consultants aim to offer the most appropriate scientific solution to successfully perform the study, obtain statistics, understand and communicate results.
Consultants refrain from performing any analysis when encountering problems with the study design, hypothesis, research question or data collection that could compromise scientific integrity.
A researcher is expected try to specify the project, experiment, hypothesis, research questions, as clearly as possible, including all marginal conditions that may be relevant. This typically includes a layman introduction of the nature of the data and the data collection, with a focus on what is statistically relevant. The researcher is expected to signal possible problems with the data collection and measurement process. Any anomaly or deviation from protocol should be pointed out by the researcher, with reference to possible causes and remediating actions.
The researcher is expected to put in the necessary effort to understand the information offered by the consultant, and to follow up on suggested study material.
The researcher is expected to translate the statistical results to the researcher's own field of expertise, possibly with the help of the consultant to reach a correct interpretation of results.
Statistical and methodological support is offered to all researchers of Humanities and Life Sciences & Medicine within the VUB / UZ Brussel community.
Consultancy can be provided to all members of our community in response to a researcher's (client's) request.
Support is offered on the design of studies - sample size justification - choice of statistical techniques - communication of design, analyses and results.
Master students within Humanities are offered support primarily to succesfully apply for a scholarship and/or write their first article.
Master students within Life Sciences & Medicine are offered support primarily to succesfully write their master thesis.
Independent researchers and their doctoral students can fully outsource data analysis and get advice on how to deal with reviewers and how to write the statistical analysis plan in research proposals.
Research groups could request for automating data collection and processing as well as tutoring (workshops, group discussions, ...).
Consultations are free of charge but the number of consultations can be restricted by the consultant when the researcher is unwilling or unable to put in the necessary efforts.
The consultants will offer advice to the best of their abilities. If the requests are beyond the expertise of the consultant, options are discussed and researcher may be referred to elsewhere. No responsibility can be assumed for any inadequate advice given if based on false or incomplete information from the researcher.
Suggestions from the researcher as well as attempts to perform the analysis are discussed in terms of advantages and disadvantages in a way that would meet the background knowledge of the researcher.
A single consultation to offer advice or discuss an analysis takes up a maximum of one hour. Consultations take place at the consultant's office and can exceptionally be done with a video call if otherwise impossible and when motivated sufficiently. A consent of the promoter is in principle required for (Phd.) students.
Data Analysis can be free of charge, but a consultant can accept or refuse the analysis of data dependent on the available time in relation to the perceived importance and potential of the study. Researchers are advised to request for assistance well in time, no guarantees are given on immediate support. For a more involved commitment, for example large scale projects, researchers are advised to discuss the expected contribution and suitable compensation well in advance. Such involved commitment would ideally be part of a project proposal to attract the required funding.
Note 1: free data analysis serves a first author from our own research community (or serve as internal report). In all other cases, discuss appropriate compensation with the coordinator.
Note 2: data analyses performed by ICDS can not be part of a student's master thesis.
Co-authorship includes a commitment to help with the communication of methods, statistics and results, as well as to the review process.
Interfaculty Center Data processing & Statistics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
The quality of the data in relation to the research questions of interest defines the statistical potential and are the responsibility of the researcher. A consultant only analyses data to address clear hypotheses offered by the requesting researcher. A consultant does not read through substantive literature, this remains the responsibility of the requesting researcher. No responsibility can be assumed for any inadequate analysis if caused by false or incomplete information from the researcher. Consultants can decline or stop any assignment based on poor quality of data, research questions that are considered inadequate, or the refusal of researcher to take methodological concerns raised by the consultant into account. Data offered to ICDS should be in an appropriate format, and pseudonomized. ICDS should be contacted in advance for assistance if in doubt. Data remains property of the researchers or any other person who delivers the data. Data will be saved in an internal ICDS database. Public use will require consent of an owner of the data.
While an attempt is made in advance to agree on an appropriate timing for performing the data analysis, the time required typically remains uncertain because of various potential complicating factors, for example a change in statistical technique following observed data properties. A consultant can not be pressured into a quick delivery of the results (time) nor into the use of specific techniques (action).
The consultant allows for sufficient time to interact with the researcher to cover the assignment in full detail, including all issues related to the design of a study, the data and any foreseeable methodological challenges. The consultant informs the researcher about possible conflicts of interest, ethical limitations and all other aspects that could impact the design, method and analysis. In case of missing data, extreme outliers, or other unexpected observations, they should also be discussed so that the consultant can deal with those in an optimal way.
The researcher will in the end obtain all relevant details on the pre-processing, coding of variables and used software. In preparation of scientific communication the consultant will point out conclusions but also limitations and conditions for those conclusions to be valid. The consultant will at the request of the consultant read through the statistically/methodologically relevant sections and where necessary suggest improvements.
Tutoring and Automation should be discussed well in time and is accepted at the discretion of the tutor/analyst/programmer. Because of the commitment involved, an appropriate compensation should be discussed well in advance. The objectives should be specified in detail by the researcher and a course of action agreed upon.
Co-authorship and Acknowledgments
A data analysis typically is considered a substantial contribution and unless agreed upon otherwise should result in co-authorship. For all other services the researcher is free to evaluate the contribution and appreciate accordingly, a bit of gratitude suffices, an acknowledgement maybe, co-authorship as you wish.
Services to (semi-) external clients
Under specific conditions, analyses are performed for external clients or clients who are partly external to our research community. This typically requires a compensation that is agreed upon with the acting consultant and/or the coordinator.
For services to (semi-) external clients, it is implied that clients accept the following general conditions: