Biostatistical and epidemiological support


This page can provide students and staff with information about:

Learn Online course in Research Methodology and Biostatistics

The Division of Health Sciences is pleased to offer a Learn Online site in Research Methods and Data Analysis for both staff and students wishing to develop, or update their statistical skills and knowledge.

You can view the full site here.

 Sections include, research methods, biostatistics, statistical software and a qualitative module will be launched shortly.

The Learn Online site can be used by al HDR students, Honours students and staff. However should you also need statisical consulting, that assistance can be found by contacting one of the people below.

Who can provide you with statistical support and advice?

The Division of Health Sciences offers support to HDR students undertaking their Masters by Research or PhD, as well as to staff undertaking research studies. Advice and assistance may be provided with respect to:

  • Sources of statistical information including textbooks and websites
  • Statistical software
  • Research design
  • Sample surveys and questionnaire design
  • Power and sample size calculations
  • Statistical analysis
  • Interpretation of statistical results

For HDR students, the first people to speak to are your supervisors. They might have a sufficient understanding of epidemiology and biostatistics to provide all the support you need. However, this is not always the case. If further assistance is required, the staff below have the expertise to be able to support you. Generally speaking, they will guide you as to what analyses need to be undertaken, but you will be expected to do the analyses yourself.

If you require additional support beyond the inital consultation, a fee for service or, negotiations around authorship, should be discussed. Please contact the people below in your local area for support.

Professor Adrian Esterman: Professor of Biostatistics

Professor Esterman has many years of experience working with clinicians from many different disciplines. He is comfortable working with the most senior researchers down to absolute beginners. He can provide support in all of the areas described above. However, epidemiology and biostatistics covers a massive area, and there are some specialist areas such as bioinformatics where further expertise might need to be brought in.

Professor Esterman primarily uses SPSS and Stata as general statistical packages, PASS for sample size calculation, and software such as Medcalc and XLSTAT for more specialised analyses.

P: (08) 8302 2163
M: 0401 124 613
Skype: profesterman

Please note that Professor Esterman is based in James Cook University, Cairns from June to August. He is happy to provide support by email, phone or Skype over that period. 

Associate Professor Sheridan Gentili

Dr Gentili can assist students with basic statistical tests such as the students T-test, repeated measures analysis and ANOVA's (one-, two-, three-way and nested).

Dr Gentili has experience in using Stata12 and SPSS.

P: (08) 8302 2452

Associate Professor David Foster 

Associate Professor Foster has many years experience working in biomedical research. As a result, his statistical knowledge is more of a generalist nature.

His main expertise is in mathematical modelling, particularly Non-Linear Mixed Effects modelling in the context of population pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic analyses.

P (08) 8302 2055 

Statistical courses available to staff and students

Internal UniSA Courses

Course title
Dates and locations

CARMA Research Methods Short Course

April 20-22, 2020 (Session 1)
April 22-24, 2020
(Session 2)
at UniSA

NVivo Online Tutorials 

Online delivery

Please contact the Division Research Office here if you would like to advertise a biostatistical or epidemiological course for staff or students on this page.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Don't know what a MOOC is? Further information about MOOCs can be found here or browse from a wide list of MOOCs available here. The list below contains links to MOOC providers that offer courses in statistics.

Courses Facilitated by External Providers

Statistical software packages available to HDR students and staff

  • SPSS: 
    • The University has a licence agreement with SPSS that allows HDR students to use products covered by this agreement at no charge
    • SPSS products can only be used by current HDR students on University owned (must have a Blue Plate) computer systems located on campus
    • Software licensing information is available here
    • There is no need to contact the IT Help Desk to install this software package.
  • SAS:
    • The Division of Health Sciences has a license to allow HDR students to access SAS
    • Students can download and install the University Edition directly from SAS here. 
    • There is no need to contact the IT Help Desk to install this software package.
  • Stata: 
    • The Division of Health Sciences has a license to allow HDR students to access Stata
    • Please lodge your request through the UniSA IT Help Desk

Qualitative analysis software packages available to HDR students and staff

  • nVivo:  
    • The University has funded an Enterprise Licence Agreement with QSR International for NVivo Plus. 
    • The license agreement covers University owned (must have a Blue Plate) computer systems on campus
      and includes installation on personal devices (conditions apply). 
    • Software licensing information is available here.
    • There is no need to contact the IT Help Desk to install this software package.

Useful research articles on statistical knowledge, methods and tips

A number of papers have been selected that staff and students may find useful when undertaking statistical analysis.

Foundation statistical knowledge

Stages of development of a research project: putting the idea together

This paper describes the process of developing a research idea into a research proposal and focuses on key steps in the process that all students should consider. 

Statistical tips and tricks

Increasing response rates to postal questionnaires: systematic review

This paper will provide researchers with some tips and tricks that will enable them to optimise the response rate for postal questionnaires.

Practical and statistical issues in missing data for longitudinal patient reported outcomes

This paper provides strategies for handling missing data at each stage of research and compares and contrasts various methods to assist researchers. Focus is placed on missing ‘patient reported outcomes’ and this paper would very useful for any researcher using questionnaires as part of a clinical trial.

Twenty statistical errors even YOU can find in biomedical research articles

The author presents 20 common statistical reporting errors which is a useful resource for students with limited statistical analysis knowledge. References are provided for those who would like to find out more.

Statistical methods

Extending the simple linear regression model to account for correlated responses: an introduction to generalized estimating equations and multi-level mixed modelling

This paper goes beyond simple linear regression and focuses on the power of Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) and Mixed Models which incorporate random effects of repeated measures. This is particularly useful for using in longitudinal studies with a series of individuals. However, an advanced understanding of statistics is required for the reader to work through this paper.

Ignoring the matching variables in cohort studies – when is it valid and why?

This paper focuses on matched case-control and matched cohort studies and discusses the trade-off between bias and variance in deciding whether adjustment for matching factors is advisable.

Reducing bias through directed acyclic graphs


This paper demonstrates a 6-step process for determining whether a proposed set of covariates would reduce possible sources of bias when assessing the total causal effects of treatment on an outcome. This process can be used to help choose which covariates should be included in traditional statistical approaches in order to minimise the magnitude of bias in the estimate produced.

The use of percentage change from baseline as an outcome in a controlled trial is statistically inefficient: a simulation study

This paper looks at the best methods for measuring continuous outcomes e.g. pain, body weight, blood pressure, before and after treatment (or change from baseline) and would be useful to all researchers undertaking these types of studies.

Statistical analyses in the physiology of exercise and kinanthropometry

This paper reviews 4 statistical techniques that are relevant to researchers and students conducting physiological studies as well as providing a good overview of some of more common statistical methods. This paper is particularly useful as a starting guide for those that are less familiar with appropriate statistical models to use when designing and analysing data.

What is an intracluster correlation coefficient? Crucial concepts for primary care researchers

This paper discusses the concepts of intracluster correlation coefficient – or the impact of having subjects randomised at a group level but analysed on an individual level. This has important implications to sample size calculations. The paper also contains a useful case study that illustrates the concepts of clusters in a primary care setting.