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Threat to the Statistical Consulting Unit, ANU

  • 19 Feb 2021 9:46 AM
    Reply # 10115020 on 10111122

    Very sorry to hear this Alice. I've always thought the central model of ANU was ideal, compared with lots of other universities where statisticians are spread across departments and don't get to discuss problems or work together. There's also a massive current shortfall nationally in statistical skills. Most other fields of research rely on expert statistical input to ensure all their hard work isn't wasted on a flawed analysis. I know lots of scientists from a wide variety of fields appreciate the value of statisticians, hopefully ANU can be convinced that this is a bad idea.

  • 19 Feb 2021 6:30 AM
    Reply # 10114294 on 10111122

    The submission that I made to a 2014 Review of Statistical Research Methods Training and Research Support (including the SCU), at ANU, is attached.  Professor Ian Gordon attached it to his report.

    Note also the July 2020 book
    "Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth Illustrated by Stuart Ritchie.
    Science Fictions website  
    Michael Shermer interview with Stuart Ritchie

    The best short review that I've seen is from Gina Rippon:
    "An engagingly accessible set of cautionary tales to show how science and scientists can be led astray, in some instances with fatal consequences, as well as a clear-eyed and chillingly accurate view of how current funding and publishing practices are leading to more of the same mistakes. As we rely now more than ever on science to solve the world’s problems, Science Fictions should be compulsory reading for anyone involved in the communication of science to policy makers and to the public."

    The functions that the SCU provides will be central to efforts to address, at an institutional level, the issues that Ritchie raises.

    1 file
  • 18 Feb 2021 10:59 AM
    Message # 10111122

    Dear statisticians in Australia and New Zealand, I’m writing to inform you of a threat to the existence of statistical consulting at the Australian National University in Canberra. On 17 February 2021 a proposal was released by the Portfolio of Research & Innovation to disestablish the Statistical Consulting Unit (SCU).

    The SCU was formed in 1982 as a collaborative unit that specialises in statistical applications to academic research. Its main role is to provide expert statistical advice to PhD and other research students and staff in study design, data collection and data analysis across all disciplines.

    It’s a highly regarded unit and the ANU acknowledges that the SCU provides a valued service for researchers and students across campus. Nonetheless COVID budget pressures have led to this essential part of ANU’s research infrastructure being threatened with closure in the next couple of months.

    There is a period of consultation on the proposal for the next two weeks only (closing Wednesday 3 March). If Australia's national research university can consider travelling down this path, then no such services are secure.

    The full proposal can be found at

    Alice Richardson, Director, SCU.

    Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 10:59 AM | Alice Richardson
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