Expert Insights

Expert Insights

The Crux of the Matter in Statistical Modeling

The Crux of the Matter in Statistical Modeling
31 May 2019

In statistical modeling there are a handful of rules we follow that extend beyond the purely mathematical.  One that is very common is regarding interpretability of model parameters and when you can include “complex” terms. I’ll spare you the detail on this, but the general concept is interesting.  The requirement for the terms to make some kind of logical sense overrides the quest for superior mathematical fit. Even within this mathematically-rooted process the need for understanding guides our process and action.

This concept is tremendously important as understanding is the key to operationalization; without understanding you limit the ability to act.  Either directly through an inability to incorporate findings into process, or, more abstractly due to lack of trust.  Given this, we can extrapolate the prior rule a bit and say that it isn’t sufficient that a statistician can interpret and understand the model.  Rather, any individual required to make a decision about using the model and its results should be able to interpret it as well.

This doesn’t mean that a statistician should handicap the methods they can use. Instead, it means that a good statistician partner should be familiar with the consumer and the business problem as well as the mathematics.  While in some cases it may require making a process simpler, more often we are better served by finding a way to communicate so the audience can understand and ultimately trust.  In the long term this may require a gradual increase in model sophistication going hand-in-hand with laying a broader foundation of understanding.

There are myriad ways to continue this discussion: handling situations when the approver of a model and the consumer of its output aren’t the same; how to balance the time to improve a method versus the benefit it can bring; how to test the value and quality of a model; and how (and if) your current workforce can integrate into an analytically driven paradigm, just to name a few.  These are all important topics and ones that should be discussed in detail, but I’d rather use my last few words to turn the topic a bit. 

This post has focused on analytics, but this concept extends beyond that limited scope – no matter what topic or service we are considering, the need to understand and ability to trust is as important as are the results. If you are a specialty service provider (analyst or otherwise) remember that your knowledge, and even the language you use to communicate about it, is often foreign to your customer.  Your responsibility extends beyond providing a simple answer and includes the context, the methods, and necessary education to understand the qualities of that answer.  And, if you are the customer working with that specialist, if you don’t feel like you can ask a question or can’t understand the answer when you do, you might not be working with the kind of partner you need. 

Contact us today to find out how we can help with your biostatistics challenges.

Written by Walter Boyle, Executive Director, Biostatistics and Programming at Synteract

x

Submit RFI / RFP

..
By submitting your information to us through this webform, your business details will be added to our database. In accordance with our Privacy Notice, we may then contact you with marketing information about Synteract that might be of interest to you. We will never sell your details to third parties. You can unsubscribe from marketing communications at any time.

Required

x

Contact Synteract

Tell us how to stay in touch with you:

By submitting your information to us through this webform, your business details will be added to our database. In accordance with our Privacy Notice, we may then contact you with marketing information about Synteract that might be of interest to you. We will never sell your details to third parties. You can unsubscribe from marketing communications at any time.

Required

x

 

x

Download Resource

By submitting your information to us through this webform, your business details will be added to our database. In accordance with our Privacy Notice, we may then contact you with marketing information about Synteract that might be of interest to you. We will never sell your details to third parties. You can unsubscribe from marketing communications at any time.

*Required

x

To complete your download, please choose an option in the Internet Explorer pop-up window at the bottom of this browser.