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Guide to Applied Statistics and Data Science Projects for UBIG Collaborators

This page contains information for external collaborators about Applied Statistics and Data Science for masters level students. If you are interested in other types of collaboration, please contact AS&RU.

The masters-level project structure and delivery designed to provide a flexible method for external collaborators from university, business, industry or government (UBIG) to get involved with student research projects in the Department of Statistics. The only fixed requirement is that the collaborator provides the data for the project or a reliable method for the data to be obtained.

Download a project proposal template

Submit a project proposal or data

Types of Students

MSc students carry out their project over the summer following the taught component of their course between mid June and early September. The project is worth a third of their qualification and is 100% assessed by dissertation.

Integrated Masters students carry out their project alongside their fourth year taught modules between October and May. The project is worth a quarter of their final year and assessed by a workflow report in the early stages, oral presentation and dissertation.

In the past, the opportunity to work with a data set to answer questions posed by experts from other domains have been very popular. Our students have a good background in statistical methods and software used to apply the methods. The majority of our students are very good, and quite a few are exceptional. They enjoy a real challenge. Projects have provided important commercial or practical information. When data are not confidential, results can be published in journals.

Allocation and Timelines

Details about proposed projects are released to students in week 9 of term 2 (08/03/2021).

Students make their choices in week 1 of term 3 (28/04/2021).

Between the release of the project details and the deadline for making choices, students are encouraged to make contact to explore whether the project is suitable for them. Consequently, all project proposals must have a designated contact for students who are exploring projects prior to making a choice. You may choose for this to be you, another nominated individual (with their permission) or the project co-ordinator.

Students are allocated to projects by the project co-ordinator (Statistics staff) on a "best-fit" approach taking into account student choices. A project proposer may be asked to express preferences to break a tie, normally where they have been the primary contact for student queries.

External collaborators may, if they wish, conduct a recruitment process including an application or interview with students interested in taking the project. Most project proposers from UBIG are content with the department allocation process which matches students with appropriate projects. A few proposers like to interview students who might be allocated to their project and we facilitate this. A member of Statistics staff will join the interview panel
and the preferences of the panel will be taken forward as a key input to the allocation process. Recruitment must be fully completed with an allocation made at least 1 week before the students' deadline for making project choices. Support from the Statistics department will be available for communicating with students but the responsibility for managing the process lies with the project proposer.

MSc students officially start work mid June. The deadline for the dissertation is mid-September, so many students are keen to begin preliminary work from early June. They are expected work with little supervision, which makes it possible to fit meetings around annual leave or conferences. My practice is to provide a list of my available dates by late June, and agree an approach to meetings and email discussions. An external adviser can limit their input to providing an initial discussion of the questions of interest. Further discussion of interim results, and some comments on a draft of the dissertation, are greatly appreciated by students and supervisors. If a student works within an organisation, agreement on visits by the Warwick Statistics Department supervisor will be made.

Fourth year integrated masters (IM) students officially start work in October. However, many students will be keen to read background material over the summer, without any input from academic supervisor or external adviser. Again, an external adviser can limit their input to providing an initial discussion of the questions of interest. If an external adviser can discuss interim results, and provide some comments on a draft of the dissertation, this is greatly appreciated by students. Interaction once a month from October to April is typically sufficient. For larger collaborations, fortnightly meetings are useful. Important dates for students are those of a workflow report, due early December, a presentation in March, and the final deadline for the 40-80 page dissertation in early May.

Topics and Outputs

Dissertation topics offered by external advisers from business, government, industry and other University of Warwick Departments minimally describe a data set or data sets, and suggest questions of interest. A project dissertation will include (not necessarily in this order):

  • a review of the relevant background to the data;
  • initial data exploration, visualisation and summary statistics;
  • a discussion of the statistical techniques which address the questions of interest;
  • application of statistical techniques, model checking and critical appraisal;
  • interpretation of the main results aimed at a general reader; and
  • a conclusion which reflects on the strengths and limitations of the data, the statistical methods, and the results.

A copy of the project dissertation and feedback from the dissertation markers will be provided to the UBIG proposer.

Supervision and Contact

Students allocated to a Applied Statistics and Data Science project will receive from the Department of Statistics;

  • Four weeks of group supervision on relevant topics such as cleaning data, EDA, measurement error, study design and missing data
  • A review of the project specification, submitted by the student after initial exploration
  • A supervisor allocated from the faculty in the Department of Statistics
  • Opportunities for consultation with specialists in relevant areas.

It is possible for a student to be supervised by a Warwick Statistics Department supervisor without contact with the UBIG proposer. However, we appreciate advisors who are able to talk to students and supervisors, and provide feedback to them. You may choose the level of input that you wish to have in the project, from being an occasional consultant or recipient of progress reports to being the primary contact for the student and carrying out weekly supervision meetings.

Project Information and Data

The project proposal template contains the information that we need to review whether the project is feasible for a masters level student to undertake. If you have any questions about how to complete the proposal or would like to know more information about any of the implications, you may contact stats.ug.support@warwick.ac.uk 

You will be asked to provide the data at the time of proposing the project, and definitely before the project information is released to students. The data will be transferred to the allocated student so you will not need to provide it again later. If you have queries about the data, again please contact stats.ug.support@warwick.ac.uk to be referred to the relevant member of academic staff.

The minimum complete Meta-data for a data set would be:
A. The data in an accessible format, e.g. *csv, *spss, *sas, *xls, *xlsx, (or Stata files). There might be a single file, or several files which students will have to merge.
B. A data dictionary
C. A statement of how and why the data were collected. This might only be a paragraph, but if possible, a study protocol, or a reference to publications using the data should be given.

Please see https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/statistics/intranet/projects/collaboratorguide/data for further information on good practice in data.

Formal agreements, confidential or commercially sensitive data

The Applied Statistics & Risk Unit coordinates formal agreements and payments, if payments are required. (https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/statistics/asru/)

Before any information about a topic is released, we will confirm with you whether you require a non-disclosure agreement.

For example, during a recent summer, three of our masters students worked on projects with the Institute of Apprentices (IoA) in Coventry. We were able to deal with confidentiality issues by having the students work within the IoA offices, so no data left the IoA premises. The versions of the dissertations were cleared by IoA before supervisors or examiners saw them. One of these projects made an important contribution to a report to parliament.

Key Staff

We will be offering over 120 projects this academic year and this is the first year that we will be offering such a large number of projects and collaborating with UBIG in this way. Queries should be directed to Statistics Student Support Office in the first instance and they will involve academic staff as necessary. The key staff who are likely to be corresponding with you are;

Student Support Officer with Responsibility for Projects: Sarah Mousley

Applied Statistics and Data Science Project Co-ordinator: Professor Jane Hutton

Student Engagement & Teaching Quality: Dr Lynne Bayley

AS&RU Director: Dr Martine Barons

The Applied Statistics & Risk Unit (AS&RU) has a remit to encourage and co-ordinate external partnerships which enable the early applications of theoretical, methodological and algorithmic developments. Dr Martine Barons, Director of AS&RU, is the primary contact for collaboration opportunities outside the masters projects, including development of long term relationships between the Statistics Department and partners from Business, Industry and Government.