Statistical Science

Cross-Disciplinary Research in the Statistical Sciences

IMS Panel on Cross-Disciplinary Research in the Statistical Sciences

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The driving force behind the development of modern statistics has been the need to solve practical problems. Historically, statisticians have achieved signal advances in theory and methods as they worked on applications in many fields, and in turn, statistical thinking and methodology have greatly influenced the development of virtually all areas of science. In 1985 the National Science Foundation funded a proposal by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) to assess the current status of cross-disciplinary statistical research and to make recommendations for its future. The IMS formed a panel to carry out the project. The panel endorses the principles that advances in substantive knowledge and in statistical theory and methods are virtually inseparable and that the continued health of statistics depends strongly on continuing cross-disciplinary research in many fields. Its report reviews past successes in collaborative research among statisticians and scientists in other fields and also important current problems that would greatly benefit from close collaboration among statisticians and other scientists to push forward the frontiers of theory, methods and knowledge. Yet the panel finds that constrained resources and the existing infrastructure within government, academia and industry thwart the growth and development of needed cross-disciplinary work. The panel's report presents recommendations for concrete steps to help rectify this situation and to promote and encourage cross-disciplinary research in the statistical sciences. The panel addresses issues concerning support--general support for large scale projects, support for research by statisticians in primarily advisory roles, support for effective transfer of technical results. The place and role of statistics in universities, industry and national laboratories are reviewed. The role of professional societies and suggested changes are discussed. Finally, the panel recommends the establishment of an Institute for Statistical Sciences that will serve to encourage cross-disciplinary research between statistics and other fields.

Article information

Statist. Sci., Volume 5, Number 1 (1990), 121-146.

First available in Project Euclid: 19 April 2007

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Cross-disciplinary statistical research large-scale projects funding agencies statistics in universities statistics in industry federal statistical agencies professional society support for cross-disciplinary research Institute for Statistical Sciences


IMS Panel on Cross-Disciplinary Research in the Statistical Sciences. Cross-Disciplinary Research in the Statistical Sciences. Statist. Sci. 5 (1990), no. 1, 121--146. doi:10.1214/ss/1177012273.

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