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Wanted: 365 stories of statistics

Venn Diagram

The American Statistical Association has a blog called the Statistics Forum that I edit but haven’t been doing much with. Originally I thought we’d get a bunch of bloggers and have a topic each week or each month and get discussions from lots of perspectives. But it was hard to get people to keep contributing, and the blog+comments approach didn’t seem to be working as a way to get wide-ranging discussion. I did organize a good roundtable discussion at one point, but it took a lot of work on my part.

Recently I had another idea for the blog, based on something that Kaiser Fung wrote on three hours in the life of a statistician, along with a similar (if a bit more impressionistic) piece I wrote awhile back describing my experiences on a typical workday.

So here’s the plan. 365 of you write vignettes about your statistical lives. Get into the nitty gritty—tell me what you do, and why you’re doing it. I’ll collect these and then post them at the Statistics Forum, one a day for a year. I think that could be great, truly a unique resource into what statistics and quantitative research is really like. Also it will be perfect for the Statistics Forum: people will want to tune in every day to see what comes next.

If you’re interested in doing this, please contact me directly. I think this is an important project, and I’d like to get statisticians representing a diversity of work experiences.

Free Stan T-shirts for the first 10 people who send in their completed vignettes.

P.S. A commenter asks, “Do you have any guidelines for length and tone of the vignette?” My answer is no, not really. I think of Kaiser’s story as a model, but really it depends on what people write. Anything goes. I think it would be ok to write about successes, or about struggles, or just about everyday worklife. And, as Marianne Moore and my high school English teachers would say, specific details are good.


  1. anon says:

    Can it be anonymous? Will you ship the swag to Getmany? :)

  2. another anon says:

    Will you be encouraging folks to talk about problems they’re having? Specifically, I’d love to read about people struggling to find the appropriate statistical test.

    I would also enjoy reading posts by folks who wouldn’t label themselves statisticians but who use statistics as part of their research.

  3. Wesley says:

    Do you have any guidelines for length and tone of the vignette? I’m happy to contribute, but I need some idea of how much to write, and what direction to aim it at.

  4. Louis says:

    I am happy to contribute. How do I sign up?

    PS: Not a ‘statistician’ but doing a lot of data analysis.

  5. […] you’re interested in contributing, please contact Andrew. You can read more about the project here and you can find Andrew’s contact info […]

  6. As I understand it, statistics has nothing to do with variation. I don’t like this Venn diagram.

    • Andrew says:


      Huh? I don’t understand your statement. I’ve worked on hundreds of applied statistics problems, and all of them have involved variation (as well as measurement and comparison).

  7. Rick Wicklin says:

    For some ideas of what to write, you might want to look at the “Master’s Notebook” column that has appeared in AMSTAT News for the last few years: Many of these articles summarize the jobs and activities of masters-level statisticians. In fact, Andrew, you might want to contact some of the previous articles and ask them to resubmit their story in electronic form for this project!

  8. Jeff Falk says:

    I am retired. How about a vignette from a retired MS “statistician” trying to do socially constructive data oriented work? Does this constitute a “direct” contact?

  9. Nikhil says:

    How about compiling stories about statisticians , on how they reached to a concept, or how they modified some pre-existing statistical techniques…etc.

    I have never seen a source that has these stories, I think these will also be an interesting stuff.


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