What’s next? The most interesting statistical problem?

I will be finishing reading thousands of pages of grants and spend a few days on grant reviews. A grant I have been working on is almost done. The semester is almost over. I have two articles I submitted to journals under review. So… the question is, what’s next?

I thought about trying to make the deadline for the Western Users of SAS Software conference, but there was just no time. Besides, I have done so many dozens of conference papers, like most people my age, I don’t even list them all on my resume, I just pick a dozen or so sample topics each of which I have probably done five or ten times.

Here is what I am thinking about:
1. Writing a final article on on-line education for people with disabilities on American Indian reservations. This was one of the craziest ideas ever, including individuals with mental retardation and reading disabilities. How do you have a web-based course with people who can’t read, for crying out loud? And no, we did not use videos. When the results came in, we were jumping up and down excited. The data collection was completed over a year ago and I still haven’t written this up. Hey, I did two other articles taught classes, reviewed grants. etc.

2. Writing an article or two on the ten years of data on training teachers of English language learners. This includes some really interesting qualitative data on what makes the best teachers. There is also the standard stuff on GPA, test scores. The main question is – what characteristics are shared by those teachers who are the best of the best, the type we remember 20 years later?

3. Writing up data on an after-school tutoring program for hundreds of kids, which at first glance seemed to have failed but I think it actually sort of succeeded. The data were a total mess when I received them, but what I THINK happened was that many of the kids went to tutoring only rarely and those who did go to at least X hours showed improvement. The most interesting question here is to find X.

4. Analyzing qualitative data from interviews of 30 Native American parents of children with disabilities about how they first found out about their child’s diagnosis, the experiences they had with the school personnel and other professionals.

5. Doing something completely different and working on a design I am interested in right now using a combination of social network analysis and proportional hazards models to predict the movement from casual use through abuse to compulsion for youth using alcohol and other drugs.

6. Writing a book on SAS Enterprise Guide as a tool for researchers.

Because I am clearly all over the map here and I have a lot of data that is not being used, I think what I might do is write the book and use each of 1-5 as an example problem. That way, I will have the first draft of part of each article written along with the book. It will also show how you can apply EG to lots of different research problems.

This undoubtedly makes me sound as if my research interests are all over the map, and they are. This doesn’t even include the evaluation reports I am being paid to do. Still, reading these grants, I recognize the names of some of the same people who have been doing the same type of research for the past 15 or 20 years. Some people might call it having a passion for the topic. I call it boring. I don’t care if I was on the French Riviera studying the impact of cocaine on beach-side sexual behavior of porn stars and my covariate was the quality of champagne sipped by the researcher while watching. I’d still be bored with it way before 15 years.

Disclaimer: I don’t know if porn stars actually vacation in the French Riviera, so if you go there and are disappointed, don’t blame me.

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One Comment

  1. 1. The beauty of being a statistician is that you get to play in other peoples backyards.

    2. When is your EG book coming out?

    3. This one is related to one of your other post in getting EG installed and working properly. We are switching from “raw” SAS to the EG version and, well things are not working quite as well as promised. If you find the secret to getting it to work let me know.

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