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Goal setting paper

Achieving Common Goals

minute read

Growing a collaboration is more than two people sitting at a table and discussing a project. It is a team of individuals who not only believe in the science they are researching, but they believe in the contributions that each expert at the table brings to the research. These collaborations focus on uniting subject area experts and producing quality research that not only impacts science, but drives change in our communities.

CIDA is fortunate to have nearly 20 collaborations across the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. One of which is with the Division of Endocrinology. The Endocrinology partnership began as a way to help new researchers write grant proposals to secure funding for future research and has expanded to supporting analyses, consultations, and manuscript writing. During all phases of research, our team is by the side of the Principal Investigator talking through the science, shining light on limitations and guiding the team to a testable hypothesis, and highlighting the best practices in data collecting for success.

The Future in Research

Part of a collaboration is supporting grant writing that develops additional funding for future research.Statisticians play in important role in this process explained Dr. Jaron Arbet, a Research Associate with CIDA, “As statisticians we are trained to think very critically about the research, and we help solidify the aims and how the data should be collected. We use statistics to not only answer your questions, but we also determine if the desired outcome is supported by data.”

Navigating Research Studies

Biostatisticians and data scientists also help design studies for their partnerships. “It is important to work with a statistician on a study to ensure it is designed in away where you can collect data that can be used and the correct number of subjects that they need to enroll so they can answer their research questions,” explained Dr. Jaron Arbet. “Having a statistician involved also helps the team to formulate questions that can be statistically tested.”From long-term to short-term projects beginning with data management to manuscript submission, biostatisticians and data scientists working on collaborations support a wide-variety of requests. Long-term projects usually start as “what if”, or from the ten-thousand-foot view before they work to refine the question. One example is when Laura Grau, MPH and a Senior PRA with CIDA was approached by Dr. Seth Creasy with what he thought was an unusable sleep dataset. “We started the process of developing an algorithm to identify sleep with a specific wearable device,” explained Ms. Grau. Over time and with patience and determination the team was able to create a useable dataset.Short-term projects are also a large part of collaborations.These projects usually have a well-defined research question and a clean data set and a 1-3 month timeline.With foundational knowledge of Endocrinology research, the statistics team is able to navigate easily through the analyses.

The Importance of Long-term Partnerships

When beginning a new analysis you already know the questions to ask reducing the time it takes to do the project with both individuals anticipating the needs of each other and accelerating the entire process.

“Once you have worked with an investigator long enough, you establish a shorthand,” explainedLaura Grau. “Not just because you know material, the literature and data, but also because you know what the investigator wants. You are able to foresee their needs before they even need to ask for things.”

Over time, these partnerships drive the speed of science. “If you start the partnership early it will save you time in the long run,” explained Ms. Grau.“Statisticians can help you develop your study, ensure you are collecting the right data and variables so you are not stumped when it come times to analyze.” This involvement throughout the project makes it easier to do the analyses because everyone has an understanding of the hypothesis, literature, and subject area which makes it easier to interrupt results.

These partnerships help “Being an integral part of the team makes the science more efficient,” said Grau.

Shared Goals

The importance of collaborations go beyond just supporting the PI’s research goals. These relationships also support the statisticians research goals by allowing them to research and implement new methods fostering the growth in a biostatisticians or data scientist. This builds investment from both parties and drives the desire to develop good science together.

This success of this collaboration led Ms. Grau to have the opportunity to present it at a national conference along with the dataset. This opportunity not only expanded the reach of Ms. Grau’s and Dr. Creasy’s research, but it will lead to future analyses and research.“

Building long-term collaborations is important because the more you work with a team the more efficient you become,” described Dr. Arbet. “We build an understanding of the scientific application of the subject area as well as develop foundational skills so we aren’t starting over every time we begin a new project.”

Being a part of a collaboration is like inviting an expert to the table that will not only support your goals, but also look for ways to advance the research and science. These collaborations come in a variety of support levels from a few hours a month to full-time support. Connect with us to learn how we can advance science together.

Topics: Data and Health