P.Mean: Can I ask you a question? (created 2008-09-25).

For several years now, I have enjoyed reading your webpage and have recently purchased your text- thank for your efforts in helping those of us attempting to learn biostatistics. Iíve been struggling with a design/analysis question related to repeated measures design and power analysis. Iím not sure if you are currently accepting questions of this nature, and thought I would check to see if this would be OK. I certainly understand if this is something that you would rather not involve yourself with.

I do appreciate the compliments. I'm starting a new career as an independent statistical consultant, so I am certainly glad to answer questions for anyone who has funds available.

Most of the people who write to me, though, do not have a lot of cash at hand that they can give to a consultant. I've always had the policy of providing quick answers if at all possible. For many questions, I can do this in 15 minutes or less. It's not going to be the optimal response because of time constraints and because email is not a good way to answer complex questions. Any advice I give should not be taken as a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a professional statistician. Still, a quick answer can sometimes be of great help to someone.

I get some benefits from this also, as I will usually create webpage with your question and my response. This helps advertise my services and show the types of questions I can answer.

I'm very careful to try to preserve individual privacy, but if I fail to do this properly, just let me know and I will modify or remove the offending webpage.

I only have a limited amount of time and sometimes I have a huge backlog of unanswered questions. If you need a fast response, you can try writing to me again, but since I am doing this for free, please don't expect me to drop everything for your particular question.

Sometimes a question gets lost in the shuffle and I do apologize if you ask a question and never get a response. My goal is to provide at least a short response to anyone who writes in, though it may be a response like "Sorry but I can't help with this type of question". If you think your question has gotten lost, don't be afraid to ask again.

In all my years of answering questions, I have only had one person respond rudely to my answer and when I explained how busy I was, they apologized. Given how nasty many email exchanges on the Internet can be, I consider myself very fortunate.

By the way, for this particular question, I sent back a brief email asking for more details. I also offered some very general comments, which you can read at

Update: 2008-10-26: Someone else asked a question for something that was obviously a homework question for a basic statistics class. I generally encourage people who have homework questions to discuss it with their teacher rather than with me. There are several practical reasons for this.

  1. Every teacher has a slightly different approach and I am not capable of discerning what these individual differences would be.
  2. I don't want to antagonize your teacher by providing more help that your teacher might want you to have.
  3. I only have a limited amount of time in the day. I'd rather help those people who don't have a teacher that they can go to for help.

In spite of this, I will usually offer some general advice, but not specific answers, to homework questions.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. This page was written by Steve Simon and was last modified on 2010-04-01. Need more information? I have a page with general help resources. You can also browse for pages similar to this one at Category: Professional details.