Postgrad students

You may approach the UFS Statistical Consulation Unit together with your research supervisor for free assistance. Talk to your supervisor first.

UFS staff

For research that is internally funded the free service still applies. Basic advice is also free. Consider that meaningful intellectual contribution should be met with co-authorship.

External consultation

External consultation is not normally done by the UFS unit, but exceptions can be made. For large or non-standard projects, please contact my department head to begin contract negotiations.

For small or easy projects please see the the website of The South African Statistical Association.

Important information

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions page for key issues.

Software information

I use R for all my analyses, which means that other people can check and reproduce my work easily. You can download it for free here and install it without administrative rights. The interface can be upgraded by installing RStudio. Reproducibility is becoming incredibly valued in the research community in particular.


I assist with analysis of a wide array of projects. About half my projects involve analysis of survey data. The next biggest topic is measurements of nature, such as soil properties, animal properties and behaviours, plant growth, weather, etc.

The most fun projects are the ones that don’t fit into boxes, such as automation of administrative tasks. I sometimes encounter a problem for which I have a unique perspective and skill set by which to address it, and just cannot hold back. A recent example is a revamp of my faculty student module evaluation system.

About my role

From 2019 I am coordinator of the UFS Statistical Consulation Unit. This unit is sponsored by the UFS to provide free statistical consulation to UFS postgraduate students. It also provides consultation to staff.

From 2006 to the end of 2018 I’ve engaged in about two small consultation projects per year. This was done above my regular teaching and research load. Occasionally I’ve done private consultation outside work hours, but generally it’s been on behalf of my department.

Sean van der Merwe
Coordinator of UFS Statistical Consultation Unit