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Despite the critical role that quantitative scientists play in biomedical research, graduate programs in quantitative fields often focus on technical and methodological skills, not on collaborative and leadership skills. In this study, we evaluate the importance of team science skills among collaborative biostatisticians for the purpose of identifying training opportunities to build a skilled workforce of quantitative team scientists.
Our workgroup described 16 essential skills for collaborative biostatisticians. Collaborative biostatisticians were surveyed to assess the relative importance of these skills in their current work. The importance of each skill is summarized overall and compared across career stages, highest degrees earned, and job sectors.
Survey respondents were 343 collaborative biostatisticians spanning career stages (early: 24.2%, mid: 33.8%, late: 42.0%) and job sectors (academia: 69.4%, industry: 22.2%, government: 4.4%, self-employed: 4.1%). All 16 skills were rated as at least somewhat important by > 89.0% of respondents. Significant heterogeneity in importance by career stage and by highest degree earned was identified for several skills. Two skills (“regulatory requirements” and “databases, data sources, and data collection tools”) were more likely to be rated as absolutely essential by those working in industry (36.5%, 65.8%, respectively) than by those in academia (19.6%, 51.3%, respectively). Three additional skills were identified as important by survey respondents, for a total of 19 collaborative skills.
We identified 19 team science skills that are important to the work of collaborative biostatisticians, laying the groundwork for enhancing graduate programs and establishing effective on-the-job training initiatives to meet workforce needs.
Rigorous scientific review of research protocols is critical to making funding decisions, and to the protection of both human and non-human research participants. Given the increasing complexity of research designs and data analysis methods, quantitative experts, such as biostatisticians, play an essential role in evaluating the rigor and reproducibility of proposed methods. However, there is a common misconception that a statistician’s input is relevant only to sample size/power and statistical analysis sections of a protocol. The comprehensive nature of a biostatistical review coupled with limited guidance on key components of protocol review motived this work. Members of the Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design Special Interest Group of the Association for Clinical and Translational Science used a consensus approach to identify the elements of research protocols that a biostatistician should consider in a review, and provide specific guidance on how each element should be reviewed. We present the resulting review framework as an educational tool and guideline for biostatisticians navigating review boards and panels. We briefly describe the approach to developing the framework, and we provide a comprehensive checklist and guidance on review of each protocol element. We posit that the biostatistical reviewer, through their breadth of engagement across multiple disciplines and experience with a range of research designs, can and should contribute significantly beyond review of the statistical analysis plan and sample size justification. Through careful scientific review, we hope to prevent excess resource expenditure and risk to humans and animals on poorly planned studies.
The emphasis on team science in clinical and translational research increases the importance of collaborative biostatisticians (CBs) in healthcare. Adequate training and development of CBs ensure appropriate conduct of robust and meaningful research and, therefore, should be considered as a high-priority focus for biostatistics groups. Comprehensive training enhances clinical and translational research by facilitating more productive and efficient collaborations. While many graduate programs in Biostatistics and Epidemiology include training in research collaboration, it is often limited in scope and duration. Therefore, additional training is often required once a CB is hired into a full-time position. This article presents a comprehensive CB training strategy that can be adapted to any collaborative biostatistics group. This strategy follows a roadmap of the biostatistics collaboration process, which is also presented. A TIE approach (Teach the necessary skills, monitor the Implementation of these skills, and Evaluate the proficiency of these skills) was developed to support the adoption of key principles. The training strategy also incorporates a “train the trainer” approach to enable CBs who have successfully completed training to train new staff or faculty.
Statistical literacy is essential in clinical and translational science (CTS). Statistical competencies have been published to guide coursework design and selection for graduate students in CTS. Here, we describe common elements of graduate curricula for CTS and identify gaps in the statistical competencies.
We surveyed statistics educators using e-mail solicitation sent through four professional organizations. Respondents rated the degree to which 24 educational statistical competencies were included in required and elective coursework in doctoral-level and master’s-level programs for CTS learners. We report competency results from institutions with Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs), reflecting institutions that have invested in CTS training.
There were 24 CTSA-funded respondents representing 13 doctoral-level programs and 23 master’s-level programs. For doctoral-level programs, competencies covered extensively in required coursework for all doctoral-level programs were basic principles of probability and hypothesis testing, understanding the implications of selecting appropriate statistical methods, and computing appropriate descriptive statistics. The only competency extensively covered in required coursework for all master’s-level programs was understanding the implications of selecting appropriate statistical methods. The least covered competencies included understanding the purpose of meta-analysis and the uses of early stopping rules in clinical trials. Competencies considered to be less fundamental and more specialized tended to be covered less frequently in graduate courses.
While graduate courses in CTS tend to cover many statistical fundamentals, learning gaps exist, particularly for more specialized competencies. Educational material to fill these gaps is necessary for learners pursuing these activities.
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