What is Statistical Science ?


The process of posing questions and then seeking to answer them by collecting and analyzing suitable data is an essential component of research in a remarkably diverse array of fields. This includes agriculture, medical research, industrial research, forensic science, market research, environmental science, political science and quality assurance. This mode of inquiry also features prominently in the decision making processes of both commerce and government.

The role of the Statistician is to determine, for a given question, the type of data that is needed, the way it should be collected and how it should be analyzed in order to best answer that question.

The data may result from a planned experiment designed to investigate certain specific things. This sort of data, experimental data, is common in such areas as agricultural research. The concern of the Statistician is not just the analysis of the data from someone else's experiment, but is also about designing the experiment in the first place, to ensure that resources are used efficiently and that the questions being asked can be answered by the experiment.

Other types of data arise from observational studies: investigators go out and see what is actually there. Censuses of the population, hospital data bases, Gallup polls, traffic data and consumer data bases are examples of these. Survey and questionnaire design are important issues in many of these examples.

Statistical Science Graduates should have the following

Technical Skills

General Skills

Employment Opportunities

Statisticians are employed as biometricians (statistical scientists specializing in biology related applications) in government agricultural departments, as biostatisticians (statistical scientists specilizing in medical related applications) in government health related departments (e.g., NIH, CDC,...) and as consultants in a number of government, quasi-government and private research firms. Many manufacturing companies also employ statisticians to perform quality control and process control of their products. The research and development units of some larger corporations, larger hospitals and health departments employ statistical consultants. The National Bureau of Standards employs many statisticians in the area of civil statistics, and various government departments in finance and industrial relations areas have statisticians working with economic data. There are opportunities for statisticians to work in quality improvement initiatives within industrial and commercial organisations.

Wei-Min Huang

Last update 01-Jan-96