Support for Project Design and Data Analysis

Your project design and plans for data collection and analysis have important implications for what types of conclusions you will be able to draw from your project. For most projects, there will be several possible ways of approaching the design and analysis. There are pros and cons to each method, so discussing your plans with a researcher prior to beginning the project can be helpful. This guide will describe the resources available to nurses in the Mount Sinai Health System (MSHS) for designing projects and analyzing data.

I am planning a project at MSHS. Where should I begin to get guidance on choosing the best design and data collection strategy?

Begin by contacting the Center for Nursing Research and Innovation (CNRI) at The CNRI is home to nurse researchers with expertise in qualitative and quantitative methods. CNRI researchers can meet with you one on one to learn more about the goals of your project and advise you regarding which project designs might be best for your needs. The CNRI can also help you:

  • Consider which validated data collection tools might be most appropriate for your project
  • Think about which variables might be important to collect and the best methods for collecting them
  • Suggest ways to set up your data collection form or database to help make data analysis faster and easier
  • Plan ahead for how your data will be analyzed to meet the objectives of your project

I have completed my data collection and need assistance with the analysis. Where can I get help?

There are several ways to get support with data analysis. The best fit for your needs will depend on the type of data you have collected and the complexity of the analysis. For some analyses, CNRI can help walk you through the steps for analyzing and displaying your data. For more complex analyses, CNRI will connect you with The Center for Biostatistics at the Icahn School of Medicine’s Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design (BERD) program, which is home to statisticians who can analyze your data.

Please note that data analysis can be time-consuming, and BERD services are costly. Referral to BERD will depend on the availability of funds and the complexity of the analysis, and the availability of CNRI staff will depend on the current project workload. For these reasons, we encourage you to meet with the CNRI before beginning your project to ensure that your data analysis plan is clear and feasible and that your data are in a format that is easy to analyze.

I would like to understand more about project design and data analysis. What are some resources that can help me get started?

If you’ve taken statistics courses and the material did not quite gel, do not worry! Learning about project design and data analysis is a lifelong project—even for researchers. The best thing you can do is revisit the material and try to learn from different authors and presenters to solidify your understanding over time.  There are some terrific resources available for free on the Internet.

  • Khan Academy is a nonprofit, free resource offering educational material on a variety of subjects taught by experts in pre-recorded video modules. To learn about basic statistical concepts (for example, what is a p-value?) Khan Academy is a fabulous place to begin or refresh your knowledge.
  • The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has several helpful guides designed to help clinicians interpret and design clinical projects. These are free to access if you are on campus or logged in through VPN.
  • The Mount Sinai Levy Library has a collection of resources for anyone seeking to improve their skills with statistical analysis software, such as SPSS, SAS, and R. In addition to providing links to high-quality tutorials and coding examples, the Levy Library also provides hard copy and electronic access to many popular textbooks and reference books for learning statistics and statistical analysis software.