PMean: Independent consulting and the cold call

There’s been some more discussion about getting started as an independent statistical consultant. One person is ready to hang their shingle and proposes to “find a niche I can serve, contact companies in that niche, etc.” but didn’t know what that niche might be. I had one cautionary comment and then discussed finding your niche. Continue reading

PMean: What do you hate most about independent consulting

Someone on the Statistical Consulting forum mentioned that she is going to become an independent consultant when she graduates and wanted to find out from people who are currently in that position what the one thing is that they hate most. This email drew a lot of responses including several people who cautioned this women about the difficulties for a young person to become an independent consultant. Here are the thoughts I shared on the thing I hate most and what the issues are with embarking out on your own as an independent consulting early in your career. Continue reading

Recommended: Where Do You Run Your R Scripts?

I’m an experienced R programmer trying to learn a little about SQL. One of my good friends who lives totally in the database world (I call her the Teradata Queen), shared a link to a blog post at SQLServerCentral about using R. Microsoft is including R in its SQL Server distribution, so this is an opportunity for a lot of interesting work combining the data manipulation power of SQL Server with the data analysis power of R. Anyway, the blog post explains some of the cost and performance issues associated with R scripts running on a SQL Server CPU. Continue reading

Recommended: Oracle Dates and Times

I’m working with R and SQL, and some of the work uses SQLite, and some of the work uses Oracle. There are subtle differences between the two, and for that matter between any two database programs. While there are SQL standards, most packages have minor deviations, or enhancements. Dates in Oracle represent one deviation. In particular, Oracle does not use the ISO 8601 standard date format (yyyy-mm-dd) by default. Here’s a nice overview of how to work with Oracle dates. Continue reading

PMean: Drawing a perfect circle in R

One of the trickier parts of R is knowing how big your graph is in the horizontal and vertical directions. You need to know this, for example, to draw a perfect circle, not one that turns elliptical because of differing units on the x and y axes, or because of different margins around the sides of the graph, or because the graphics device is rectangular. Here’s some R code to show you how this works. Continue reading

Recommended: Published methodological quality of randomized controlled trials does not reflect the actual quality assessed in protocols

When evaluating a series of research articles, you often have to assess the quality of the individual papers based on the type of blinding, for example. What do you do if the paper does not discuss these items? I have usually advocated a “no news is bad news policy.” If a paper does not mention blinding, assume that no blinding was done. It seems reasonable, but the paper by Mhaskar et al provides empirical evidence that sometimes authors leave out information that would strengthen the credibility of their study. A similar paper is at Continue reading