Research Data Services Consultation Guidelines

Consultants can provide help with

Data Preparation

  • work with the documentation and codebooks to explain how the data is organized;
  • copy files from one computer system or storage medium to another;
  • extract subsets from large files;
  • merge data;
  • convert data among the standard formats used when working with data.

Working with data

  • give pointers to appropriate techniques using examples, and a library of sample programs;
  • explain program language syntax;
  • advise on data manipulation techniques related to supported software & tools (Stata, R, SPSS, ArcGIS, QGIS, et al.);
  • provide assistance in understanding and solving coding errors.


  • support learning statistical software (Stata, R, SPSS, et al.) and GIS software (ArcGIS, QGIS) by having manuals available and using computer-based training aids;
  • give introductions to finding and using data either in the library or in class;
  • prepare online user documentation and training aids.

Collaborating with RDS

RDS staff collaborate with scholars and researchers on projects which are of mutual interest and of significance. We are happy to set up a consultation to investigate the possibility of collaborating.

Examples of collaborations include:

  • Partnering to lead, teach, or co-teach a workshop or a series of workshops that involve RDS's areas of expertise.
  • Collaborating in the publication of datasets for inclusion in the geospatial or numeric data catalogs.

Consultation Policy

  • Research consultations are for current Columbia University affiliates and for original research purposes only. Users must have a valid UNI for service and sign in to the log-in kiosk before meeting with a consultant.
  • Walk-in consultations during Open Labs are expected to last no more than 15 minutes. If more time is needed, a one-hour one-on-one consultation can be arranged with the consultant. One consultation per week is the expected norm.
  • We cannot help with homework assignments, provide tutoring, or aid in any non-original academic work. For this type of help, please contact your teaching assistant or professor or the ISERP Statistical Consulting services.
  • We also cannot provide assistance with projects that are commercial in nature, involve classified information or non-disclosure agreements, or are related to or likely to be involved in litigation, etc.