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Designing Valid Statistical Studies

Designing Valid Statistical Studies

This course will teach you how to design studies to produce statistically valid conclusions. Topics covered in the course include: overview of validity and bias, selection bias, information bias, and confounding bias.


This course covers issues that need to be addressed in order for a study to produce statistically valid conclusions. The course deals with statistical study designs that are not experiments and are used with observational data. Examples are drawn primarily from the epidemiology literature where the methodology of observational studies has been developed, and clinical trials are reviewed briefly, but those seeking a more in depth treatment should take additional courses in clinical trial design and analysis.

  • Introductory
  • 4 Weeks
  • Expert Instructor
  • Tuiton-Back Guarantee
  • 100% Online
  • TA Support

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete this class will understand various types of studies and how to optimize for validity vs. precision. They will study bias and confounding factors, matching and stratification, and learn how to control for extraneous factors. Students will learn what types of bias and extraneous factors can endanger studies, and how to avoid or adjust for them.

The first session covers different study designs, with an emphasis on designs that can be used with observational data. Clinical trials are reviewed briefly, but those seeking a more in depth treatment should take The Institute’s sequence of courses in clinical trial design and analysis.

  • Classify different study designs and specify when they might be used
  • Use randomization and matching to control extraneous factors
  • Distinguish between correction at design and correction at analysis
  • Distinguish and measure validity vs. precision
  • Identify and minimize selection bias, information bias, and confounding

Who Should Take This Course

Researchers who need to design, or review the designs of, statistical studies.

Our Instructors

Course Syllabus

Week 1

Review Types of Studies, Validity

  • Methodologic issues
  • Clinical trial (brief overview)
  • Observational
  • Case-control
  • Cross-sectional
  • Validity vrs. precision
  • Internal vrs. external validity

Week 2

Bias and Confounding

  • Selection bias (brief overview)
  • Information bias (brief overview)
  • Confounding

Week 3

Controlling Extraneous Factors

  • At design stage
  • At analysis stage
  • Randomization
  • Matching

Week 4

Matching and Stratification

  • Matching and stratification will be discussed

Class Dates


02/16/2024 to 03/15/2024
Instructors: Dr. Eli Rosenberg
07/26/2024 to 08/23/2024
Instructors: Dr. Eli Rosenberg


02/14/2025 to 03/14/2025
Instructors: Dr. Eli Rosenberg
07/25/2025 to 08/22/2025
Instructors: Dr. Eli Rosenberg


The mathematics level in this course is basic algebra.

Karolis Urbonas
Susan Kamp
Stephen McAllister
Amir Aminimanizani
Elena Rose
Leonardo Nagata
Richard Jackson

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Register For This Course

Designing Valid Statistical Studies

Additional Information

Time Requirements

About 15 hours per week, at times of your choosing.

Course Text

The required course material is ActivEpi courseware, available free online at . Click “Sign up” in the upper-right, enter the information requested, then confirm your registration via email.  Next, use the “log in” button to enter your email address and password, and click the “ActiveEpi Web” course.  This courseware contains everything you need to complete the course, but, if you wish, you may purchase a printed version of a companion guide here. The courseware is also available in CD form (Windows only) from the publisher, Springer, or other retailers such as (“ActivEpi CD”).

Supplemental Information

Literacy, Accessibility, and Dyslexia

At, we aim to provide a learning environment suitable for everyone. To help you get the most out of your learning experience, we have researched and tested several assistance tools. For students with dyslexia, colorblindness, or reading difficulties, we recommend the following web browser add-ons and extensions:







  • Navidys (for colorblindness, dyslexia, and reading difficulties)
  • HelperBird for Safari (for colorblindness, dyslexia, and reading difficulties)

Register For This Course

Designing Valid Statistical Studies