Our goal is for consultation sessions to be as valuable and effective as we can
make them. Based on our experience, we have several suggestions to help you get
the most out of the experience.
Be ready to teach us. We've got a lot of experience and expertise. But,
you've been thinking about your problem longer than we have. We don't know the
idiosyncrasies of your situation, data, and approach. We'll have questions
that you'll have to answer. They might seem obvious to you, but it is part of
Be ready to learn. We want to solve your problem. But we also want you to
be able to solve it in a month or two when it happens again.
Open your code and data. We'll be able to spend more time talking about your
problem if you are ready to jump in.
Get your environment ready. If you are using a laptop, we want to help you
solve the problem on that same laptop. To help us do that, you should make
sure you have any required software installed and that you can reproduce the
problem you are having.
Ask yourself questions. Just like doctors, nurses, and other health care
providers we ask questions to get a quick understanding of the symptoms you
are experiencing, we use diagnostics to pinpoint a cause, and we make
recommendations or prescriptions for you to take. You can get into that
mindset if you start by asking yourself some questions before you come.
Questions to ask yourself
What type of question do you think you have?
Is it conceptual and software agnostic?
Is it specific to a particular tool or program?
Is it about finding resources (e.g., tutorial, datasets)?
What is your specific goal for this session (don't worry, it's okay to use
multiple sessions)? How would you briefly explain your goal while waiting for
a coffee at a coffee shop?
Are there examples of research (published or unpublished) that use the kinds
of tools and techniques you are using?
Are there examples of people with the same problem? What worked in those
cases (you might look at StackOverflow or
CrossValidated)? Why doesn't it work for