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Dr. Swetlana Herbrandt is head of the Department of Statistical Consulting – SBAZ, which was previously called the Center for Statistical Consulting and Analysis and located at the Faculty of Statistics and has moved to the Center for Higher Education (zhb) in December. This reorganization will increase the visibility of the SBAZ’s cross-faculty portfolio. At the same time, it will continue to have close scientific ties with the Faculty of Statistics. In an interview, Dr. Herbrandt tells us what support and services the SBAZ offers.
Dr. Herbrandt, which questions can students and staff of TU Dortmund University put to the SBAZ?
Basically, any questions to do with statistics or statistics software, whereby we’re naturally also happy to share our knowledge and experience in other areas, such as designing questionnaires. Perhaps the most frequently asked question is: “Which is the right statistical method for evaluating my question and analyzing my data?” In view of the large number of methods, this question is all too justified and mostly only difficult for people with little knowledge of statistics to answer. Once the method is sorted, questions about computation and statistics software often follow: “How can I apply this method to my data? Should I use this software or that one?” Not every statistical process is already included in the software selected, so it might be necessary to download an additional software package or revert to other software. And at the end there’s then the question of interpretation: “How do I interpret the figures that the program has calculated for me? What does the result mean for my research questions?” In general, students and staff can seek our advice at any time during the analysis phase, whereby some questions are very specific and can be easily answered in an email. Others are more complex, and the details need to be clarified in person.
Which statistics courses does the SBAZ offer?
We offer a beginner’s course for the statistics software SPSS. It’s open to everyone wanting not only to know how to use SPSS but also how the statistics behind it work. For complex processes, an understanding of vectors and matrices is often necessary, but not everyone has this. The course therefore focuses primarily on the general idea and requirements of these processes as well as how to interpret them, which even participants with less background knowledge of mathematics can understand. When developing the course, I built on my experience at the SBAZ and designed it in such a way that it answers the most frequently asked questions and presents statistical solutions for very typical questions.
Especially students often worry about the statistical analysis of their work. What advice would you give them?
Don’t do everything at once. It’s much better to work out a plan beforehand of how to tackle the statistical analysis. Otherwise you’ll quickly get bogged down with the details, and the analysis will seem like an insurmountable obstacle. I always recommend starting the analysis with an overview of the data. Since typical data analysis includes describing the sample, descriptive statistical methods, such as indicators or tables, lend themselves to this. In the course of the descriptive analysis, the data should also undergo a plausibility check. An additional piece of advice for all those worried about not getting significant results as answers to their research questions: These are not the only results your work must generate. Especially where case numbers are small, an effect must be very powerful in order to produce any significant result at all. Supervisors know that and don’t expect that the results, especially in the case of Bachelor’s theses, are going to revolutionize the world. The aim is rather to demonstrate an ability for scientific work. In any case, I wish everyone every success, and we at the SBAZ are happy to help with any questions.
Further information about the SBAZ:
The Center for Statistical Consulting and Analysis (SBAZ) was founded in 1992. It was to date located at the Faculty of Statistics and prior to that at the ITMC. It offers help with planning studies, choice of statistical methods, data analysis and interpretation of results. It also assists in the use of statistics software such as R or SPSS. The SBAZ is located in the CDI Building, next to the train station “Dortmund-Universität”. Since no personal consultation is currently possible due to the coronavirus pandemic, the SBAZ is operating via telephone or video conference. Its services are free of charge for members of TU Dortmund University. Anyone seeking advice can contact the SBAZ via email.
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Location & approach
The campus of TU Dortmund University is located close to interstate junction Dortmund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dortmund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dortmund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dortmund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the university are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dortmund.
To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.
TU Dortmund University has its own train station ("Dortmund Universität"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dortmund main station ("Dortmund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The university is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.
You can also take the bus or subway train from Dortmund city to the university: From Dortmund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dortmund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dortmund main station to the stop "Dortmund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dortmund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dortmund Universität S".
The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dortmund Airport (DTM) to Dortmund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dortmund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of international flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.
The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dortmund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dortmund Universität S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the university directly with the city of Dortmund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.