by Altea Lorenzo, Hèctor Perpiñán, Pilar Cacheiro, Silvia Lladosa, Urko Agirre
Unbelievable as it might sound, there is a particular role even more often misunderstood than Statistics, Biostatistics!
In our experience, this is what we frequently have to face when asked what we do for a living:
In order to get a better picture, we carried out a pilot study based on a very short survey (find it here) distributed during a week amongst our circle of relatives, friends, and acquaintances who are not necessarily aware of the nature of our work. We basically asked them: (1) to provide their impressions on biostatisticians; and (2) to guess which fields a biostatistician could work in.
As a brief summary, the results regarding the topic “field of work” are shown below:
When enquired about our main roles and fields of application, not so much difference was found between the responses from those who work on scientific areas and those who do not. It has been certainly rewarding knowing people are able to quite accurately identify our work and are becoming increasingly aware of our role. As a limitation, results could be slightly biased since some of the study participants are part of our group of friends or relatives.
Despite all of this, we found some curious answers, mainly related to our workplace and degree of importance of our work, which make us think that although people have a general idea, there is still some missunderstanding: they guess that Biostatistics is part of Statistics and associate it with the life-sciences, but they do not know yet exactly how essential our role is.
In order to change the sometimes distorted image of biostatisticians, we would like to bring a detailed user-friendly approach to Biostatistics by means of periodic posts in this fascinating Statistics2013 blog.
To keep it simple, we can say that Biostatistics is the application of statistical methods in the life sciences (Medicine, Biology, Pharmacology, Environmental studies, etc…) that ensures researchers are able to explore, analyse their data and obtain results and interpretations for their experiments.Thereby biological inferences can be made from data and new knowledge can be generated.
There are some surprising applications of our work too. Although very few people considered these as potential fields where biostatisticians could work, there is certainly some scope for Biostatistics in very different areas from the mainstream bio-sciences.
If you are now intrigued and want to learn more about Biostatistics, keep tuned to this blog and read our next post to be published here soon!