Our Mission

The mission of The Methodology Center is to advance public health by improving experimental design and data analysis in the social, behavioral, and health sciences. 

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Susan Murphy, 2013 MacArthur Fellow

Susan Murphy 2013 MacArthur Fellow


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Recent News

Linda CollinsApril 23, 2014

In May 1994, Linda Collins, a promising young professor who had recently come to Penn State from the University of Southern California, was asked to lead a unit in the College of Health and Human Development called The Methodology Center. Linda immediately began work to make her vision – establishing a preeminent research center focused on the development of new methods for social, behavioral, and health science research – a reality. 

 

Just two years later, The Methodology Center received a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) P50 Center of Excellence award that, through 18 continuous years of funding, allowed Linda to build the center she envisioned. During that time, Methodology Center researchers have published hundreds of articles on a broad array of methodological topics. Early Center research, including seminal work on methods for missing data and the analysis of longitudinal data, is now broadly applied in behavioral and social science research. Current research, including work on methods for optimizing behavioral interventions, building adaptive interventions, and analyzing intensive longitudinal data, is influencing research on obesity, smoking, drug abuse, HIV, and other pressing public health problems.

Linda Collins, Daniel Rivera, Kevin Timms, Megan PiperApril 17, 2014

Dynamical systems models were developed in engineering to describe complex systems using differential equations. Methodology Center Director Linda Collins and Daniel Rivera, professor of chemical engineering at Arizona State University, recently completed a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Roadmap grant (R21 DA024266) in which they applied dynamical systems models to improve behavioral interventions. These models can be used to understand the psychological processes that contribute to the outcomes of behavioral treatments.

 

In a new publication, the authors applied dynamical systems models to better understand what contributes to relapse during the smoking cessation process. The article, “A dynamical systems approach to understanding self-regulation in smoking cessation behavior change,” appears in the May 2014 special issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research. The research team included Daniel’s graduate student Kevin Timms, Daniel, Linda, and Megan Piper, assistant professor at the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Donna Coffman

April 3, 2014

When parents know more about their teenage children’s activities, those children are less likely to engage in risky behavior (e.g., delinquency, substance use initiation). Though this connection is widely acknowledged, it is not clear whether the knowledge is the determining factor in the reduced risk, because many other factors are involved in the parent-child relationship. In a recent article in Prevention Science, the authors use propensity scores to examine the causal nature of this relationship. The research team includes former Penn State graduate student Melissa Lippold, Methodology Center Principal Investigator Donna Coffman, and Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research Mark Greenberg. 

LCA Stata Plugin

April 2, 2014

The Methodology Center is pleased to release the latest version (1.1) of the LCA Stata plugin for conducting latent class analysis (LCA). The software is available for download free of charge. For an overview of the functionality of the LCA Stata plugin, please visit the download page. The new version includes functionality requested in our recent software survey, including

  • the ability to assess identification of models with covariates via multiple random starts,
  • an indication of which latent class is the best match for each individual, and
  • the option to generate 20 random draws for each individual’s class membership based on posterior probabilities.

The users’ guide has also been updated and revised based on user feedback. Please email mchelpdesk@psu.edu with any questions.

 

Read more or download the software


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