Policies

DSC_0116The Department of Biostatistics is committed to practices that promote responsible, ethical and reproducible research in a manner that fosters a multidisciplinary research environment. As such, we have developed the following policies that support good data science practice for the Biostatistical Consulting Laboratory (BCL).

Research Policies

  1. Investigators with impending deadlines (e.g., conference presentation, abstract submission) must give sufficient time to collaborate with BCL personnel. This means that collaborations with the BCL should start several weeks to months prior to the deadline(s). BCL personnel will work with investigators to meet responsibly acknowledged deadlines. However, projects with deadlines that the BCL supervisor feels are unreasonable may be denied.
  2. The BCL will NOT assist in any coursework (e.g. homework, class projects) or contribute towards the completion of any degree. This includes, but is but not limited to, Capstone projects, theses and dissertations.
  3. Where applicable, Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) must be obtained prior to any collaborations with BCL personnel. IRB approval must be obtained for human subject research or research on decedents.
  4. All datasets provided to members of the BCL cannot contain identifiable patient information. These data sets must be stripped of any protected health information (PHI), including MRNs or dates of medical procedures. Data provided to members of the BCL will be stored on systems maintained by the School of Medicine IT team.
  5. Data fidelity is the responsibility of the investigator. The BCL supervisor may request that investigators perform data management tasks if the data is not formatted in a manner that minimizes data management or threatens the reproducibility of planned analyses. In support of this, we recommend that:
    1. Data should be collected and stored in REDCap, offered free of charge to members of VCU or VCUHS.
    2. Data stored in other formats (ex. MS Excel, SPSS) should have an accompanying data dictionary. An example of an acceptable data dictionary can be found here. This data dictionary should include:
      1. Variable Names
      2. Variable description
      3. Units (for continuous variables) or Levels (for categorical variables)
      4. Missing variable codes (if applicable)
      5. Other information to clarify variable measurement
  1. Authorship will be provided to the BCL representative(s) who make a significant contribution to works submitted as a manuscript or conference abstract/presentation as defined by the ICMJE Authorship guidelines.
  2. The PI, or their representative, must be willing to meet for an initial meeting. Follow-up meetings to discuss the results are strongly encouraged.  All meetings must occur during normal business hours unless approved by the BCL Supervisor.
  3. A written report consisting of methods used and a summary of the results will be provided to the investigator.
  4. All research activities will be led by graduate students under the mentorship of senior graduate students and Biostatistics faculty. Any project that has obtained or is seeking internal or external research funds will be redirected to a faculty member in the Department of Biostatistics.
  5. The BCL supervisor retains the right to deny assistance or deprioritize requests based on certain criteria. These criteria include but are not limited to:
    1. Investigators who violate any part(s) of this policy
    2. Institutional units (Divisions, Departments, Schools, etc.) that house investigators who routinely violate any part(s) of this policy
    3. Investigators who over-utilize BCL resources
    4. Institutional units whose investigators over-utilize BCL resources.

Education Policies

The Department of Biostatistics is committed to providing educational services in biostatistics and data science in support of VCU’s research goals. The services that the BCL provides contribute to this effort. The following policies must be followed for all BCL sponsored educational activities.

  1. The BCL will NOT assist in any coursework (e.g. homework, class projects).
  2. The BCL will NOT assist in any requests that can be considered tutoring for individuals or small groups.
  3. All education activities will be led by graduate students under the mentorship of senior graduate students and Department of Biostatistics faculty.
  4. The BCL supervisor retains the right to deny assistance or deprioritize requests based on certain criteria. These criteria include but are not limited to:
    1. Investigators who violate any part(s) of this policy
    2. Institutional units (Divisions, Departments, Schools, etc.) that house investigators who routinely violate any part(s) of this policy
    3. Investigators who over-utilize BCL resources
    4. Institutional units whose investigators over-utilize BCL resources.