Statistics and Data

A key aspect of successfully implementing nutrition support research is data analysis. Ideally, researchers partner with statisticians, biostatisticians, or epidemiologists to analyze and report data from their study. It should be emphasized that, like nutrition support, biostatistics is a specialized field. However, it is useful for researchers to understand basic principles of biostatistics and know where they can obtain training and resources for data analysis.

A.S.P.E.N. has published a pair of reports summarizing basic principles of biostatistics.

Statistical Software 

Many commercially available statistical software packages are available. Ideally, emerging investigators will collaborate with an experienced biostatistician in the design of their work, obviating the need for investment in statistical software. However, it is useful to be familiar with some of the products that are currently on the market.  The Biomedical Research Directory offers nearly 20 statistical packages. Some of these can be downloaded free of charge, some interface with common software such as EXCEL, while others are available for purchase. 

Online Training in Statistics 

Comprehensive online training in statistics is available, which is free of charge and covers many topics of interest to researchers in nutrition and other disciplines.

The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health offers a wealth of online courses, lectures and slide decks on numerous topics in public health. A lecture series in biostatistics and statistical modeling is available, along with dozens of online training resources that may be useful to emerging researchers in nutrition support. A lecture series, course materials, and assignments on the fundamentals of biostatistics also are available.  Interested researchers may also view an overview of statistical reasoning.                   

Data Quality and Management 

A number of courses/tutorials are available, including materials that cover the importance of data quality (not nutrition-specific, but applicable to clinical research settings) and various aspects of data management.