I am an Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the Statistical Consulting Centre.
My job involves an interesting mix of:
- statistical consulting with clients from inside and outside the University of Melbourne
- assisting post-graduate research students from the University of Melbourne
- teaching post-graduate courses for the University of Melbourne
- developing and teaching tailored courses, both face-to-face and online
- research in statistical education and communication
I have a Bachelor of Science (Honours), Masters of Science, and a PhD, all from the University of Melbourne.
I am an Accredited Statistician (AStat) with the Statistical Society of Australia, and co-chair of the Statistical Consulting Network of the Statistical Society of Australia.
I am an elected member of the International Statistics Institute.
I have worked full-time in the Statistical Consulting Centre since 2004.
In this time I have consulted on over 600 different projects, and provided over 200 reports to clients.
My background is in psychology and statistics, and I bring to consulting over thirty years of experience in working in the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Victorian government agencies, and academic institutions. I enjoy the challenge and stimulation of working with clients from many different fields. Providing plain language explanations and applied interpretations of statistical analysis, often using high quality statistical graphics, is an important part of my consulting practice.
Here are some examples of my consulting work, which often involves collaboration with my colleagues in the Statistical Consulting Centre.
- Meta-analysis to support expert witness evidence in a class action over the use of transvaginal mesh implants.
- Design and analysis of trials of 3D x-ray technology at Australian airports.
- Design and analysis of a range of different surveys of public transport users for government agencies including Public Transport Victoria and Transport for NSW.
- Analysis of police records in a case of racial profiling in Flemington and North Melbourne.
- Analysis of student well-being surveys for the University of Melbourne (in collaboration with Associate Professor Wendy Larcombe and Dr Chi Baik).
Statistical Consulting Centre short courses
Each year I teach intensive short courses open to anyone. Statistics for research workers is offered every year. You can find out more about Statistical Consulting Centre courses here.
The Statistical Consulting Centre also offers tailored short courses; I have collaborated on many of these.
Here are the Excel and RMarkdown files for Statistics for Research Workers, November 2022: SRW November 2022.
Here are the extras added during the course: Extras added during the course (updated).
Here are the demo files for many of the chapters: RMarkdown demo files for chapters.
University of Melbourne workshops
I teach short, free (usually half-day) workshops for eligible University of Melbourne graduate research students and staff.
Producing Quality Graphs 2022
The Producing Quality Graphs workshop was held online on 28th and 29th September 2022.
Here is a handout for the second day: Minitab 20 Showcase
Here are some Excel files that may be used on the second day: 2022 MSCP workshop
University of Melbourne subjects
Ian Gordon and I teach an introductory statistical methods subject for post-graduate students at the University of Melbourne; this is also called Statistics for research workers. The subject code is MAST90007. I also assist with a post-graduate subject on consulting and applied statistics – The practice of statistics and data science (MAST90027).
I collaborated with Ian Gordon to develop two subjects in the Masters of Data Applied Analytics. These are the foundation subject, Critical thinking with analytics (MAST91030) and Foundations of analytics (MAST90135). Ian and I co-ordinate these subjects.
I teach Quantitative Methods (ARTS90046) in the Faculty of Arts.
Statistical literacy subjects
I collaborated on the development of innovative subjects in statistical literacy at the University of Melbourne.
- Critical thinking with data is a University of Melbourne breadth subject available to all first year students. It teaches students to become critical users of data-based evidence. You can find out more here.
- Thinking scientifically is an online breadth subject for second year science students, which includes a substantial component about Thinking with data.
- Data fundamentals is a free online series offered to University of Melbourne students as part of the Employment Fundamentals initiative. It teaches the fundamentals of statistical literacy. It was developed in collaboration with Dr. Kim-Anh Lê Cao.
Statistical consulting provides many and varied opportunities for research collaborations, as you can see from my recent publications.
My research interests are also in statistical education, statistical graphics, and statistical consulting. I am interested in finding better ways of representing, communicating and understanding statistical concepts.
Here’s what I think about pie charts.
Statistical consulting provides many and varied opportunities for research collaborations.
Here are some recent publications, including those arising out of consulting:
Chieng, D., Sugumar, H., Ling, L. H., Segan, L., Azzopardi, S., Prabhu, S., … & Kistler, P. M. (2022). Catheter ablation for persistent atrial fibrillation: A multicenter randomized trial of pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) versus PVI with posterior left atrial wall isolation (PWI)-The CAPLA study. American Heart Journal, 243, 210-220.
Tropea, J., Brand, C. A., Lim, W. K., Hepworth, G., & Finch, S. (2022). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis of the questionnaire on Palliative Care for Advanced Dementia (qPAD) using a large sample of staff from Australian residential aged care homes. International Journal of Older People Nursing, e12505.
Finch, S & Gordon I. (2022) Bare bones, or a rich feast? Taking care with context in a data rich world. Teaching Statistics. https://doi.org/10.1111/test.12322
Hamilton, D. G., Page, M. J., Finch, S., Everitt, S., & Fidler, F. (2022). How often do cancer researchers make their data and code available and what factors are associated with sharing? BMC Medicine, 20, 438. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-022-02644-2
Huang, V. T., Finch, S., & Patrick, C. (2022). Patents and Gender: A Big Data Analysis of 15 Years of Australian Patent Applications. University of New South Wales Law Journal, 45(3).
Chieng D, Finch S, Sugumar H, Taylor AJ, Reid C, Kalman JM, Kistler PM. (2021) Interpretation of clinical studies in electrophysiology: statistical considerations for the clinician. EP Europace, Jun;23(6):821-7.
Finch S, Gordon I, Patrick C. (2021) Taking the aRghhhh out of teaching statistics with R: Using R Markdown. Teaching Statistics. Jul;43:S143-7.
Larcombe W, Baik C, Finch S. (2021). Exploring course experiences that predict psychological distress and mental wellbeing in Australian undergraduate and graduate coursework students. Higher Education Research & Development, Jan 5:1-16.
Pastor A, Conn J, Loh M, O’Brien CL, Teng J, Finch S, Collins L, MacIsaac RJ, Bonomo Y. (2021). Glucose patterns following alcohol and illicit drug use in young adults with type 1 diabetes: A flash glucose monitoring study. Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, e00257.
Whish‐Wilson T, Costello D, Finch S, Sutherland T, Wong LM. (2021) Funding of prostate MRI leads to fewer biopsies and potential savings to health systems in the management of prostate cancer, British Journal of Urology International, Oct 6.
D’Aprano A, Johnston H, Jarman R, Jeyaseelan D, Chan YP, Johansen K & Finch S. (2020). Practitioners’ perceptions of the ASQ-TRAK developmental screening tool for use in Aboriginal children: A preliminary survey. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, Jan;56(1):94-101.
Hau JA, Holt CM, Finch S & Dowell RC. (2020). The Adaptation to Mandarin-Accented English by Older, Hearing-Impaired Listeners Following Brief Exposure to the Accent. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 63(3), 858-871.
Proudlove R, Finch S & Thomas S. (2020). Factors influencing intention to invest in a community owned renewable energy initiative in Queensland, Australia. Energy Policy, 140, 111441.
Yu L, Lacorcia L, Finch S, & Johnstone T. (2020) Assessment of serum symmetric dimethylarginine and creatinine concentration in hyperthyroid cats before and after a fixed dose of orally administered radioiodine. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Jul;34(4):1423-31.
Yu L, Lacorcia L, Finch S, & Johnstone T. (2020). Assessment of treatment outcomes in hyperthyroid cats treated with an orally administered fixed dose of radioiodine. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, Aug;22(8):744-52.
You can find more of my publications here.
A publication about the quality of graphics in academic research:
Gordon I & Finch S. (2015) Statistician heal thyself: have we lost the plot? Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics. 24(4): 1210-1229.
Here is just a sample of some of the resources I have developed. The complete set developed by Statistical Consulting Centre staff can be found here.
Reporting and presenting statistical results
Rescaling explanatory variables in linear regression
Understanding two-way interaction
Five principles for creating good graphs
Why you shouldn’t use pie charts
There’s more to life than statistical significance
Free statistical literacy subject
Data Fundamentals is available to all University of Melbourne students.
This is a series of online statistical literacy modules. You can register your interest here.
By registering, you will receive emails about when this series is available for enrolment. Once you enrol, you will have access to all the learning materials there.
The four modules are designed to be taken sequentially. Keeping this in mind, you may wish to choose aspects of the content that are most relevant to your needs.
Associate Professor Sue Finch
Statistical Consulting Centre
The University of Melbourne
139 Barry Street
+61 3 8344 6994
sfinch AT unimelb.edu.au