As an expert methodologist, CCTS Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design (BERD) Co-Director and UAB Biostatistics Vice Chair David Redden, PhD, spends the majority of his time helping people redesign their studies. Often the requests for help are just weeks before a grant deadline, when “decisions have been made that can be hard to unmake.”

Redden also cites a heavy reliance on statistics as part of the problem, saying “We learn how to do every form of ANOVA under the sun, but nobody ever really sat down with me to explain how to design a study.” And there is only so much statistics can do, he notes, when outcomes do not match hypotheses due to poor study design.

The frequency of such requests and the damage poor science can cause to careers as well as research institutions inspired Redden to develop a special training, which he presented at the CCTS Training Interdisciplinary & Emerging Scholars (TIERS) on September 14, 2018. “’The Magnificent Seven’: Questions of Study Design” is based on the key issues that grant reviewers find most problematic. “If your answers to these seven frequently asked questions are inconsistent or hard to find,” he warned attendees, “you are in for a challenging review.”

The Magnificent Seven

  1. What are the Specific Aims and do they translate into statistical hypotheses?
  2. Are outcomes clearly defined and how are they measured?
  3. Is the design retrospective or prospective?
  4. Is the design cross-sectional or longitudinal?
  5. How many groups?
  6. What is a clinically relevant effect and how does this impact sample size?
  7. What should the analytic approach be?

Watch Redden’s full talk on our CCTS YouTube channel to learn more about why these questions matter and how to answer them. Visit our TIERS page to learn more about our monthly seminar series for K scholars and junior faculty.