Diary entry of an RSS fellow teaching at AIMS Cameroon: Part 1

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Ever thought about teaching the statistical skills and knowledge you've gained in another part of the world? RSS fellow and medical statistics PhD student Will Hulme moved from University of Manchester in January to teach at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Limbé, Cameroon, and in the first of a series of blog posts, he shares his experiences of a typical day working at AIMS Cameroon.

Comprising six (and counting) centres for postgraduate education, research, and outreach in the mathematical sciences, AIMS's ultimate purpose is to equip Africa's future mathematicians and scientists with the means to propel the continent towards scientific, educational, and economic self-sufficiency. The flagship programme that Will is currently tutoring on is a residential Master's degree for talented African graduates, with lecturers invited from across the world. There are 47 students on this year’s course from 17 different African nations. 

A Q&A with RSS Journalism Award winner Aasma Day

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In last year's RSS Statistical Excellence in Journalism awards, the Johnston Press investigations team was Highly Commended in the Investigative Journalism category. The team's entry was a collection of articles centred around a 'Drive for Justice' campaign which ran in several different regional newspapers as well as in national newspaper the i and which highlighted sentencing figures for those convicted of death by dangerous driving.

The team was praised by the RSS judges for clearly presenting statistical analyses of sentencing figures alongside emotive case studies. Aasma Day, who leads the Johnston Press investigations team, talks about how the team sourced and presented its data, and how its reporting helped raise awareness of an issue that eventually saw a change in the law.

Taking stats to school: A Q&A with William Guy lecturer Jeff Ralph

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Jeff Ralph is head of analysis at the Methodology Advisory Service in Methods, Data and Research (MDR) at the Office for National Statistics, and is this year's Royal Statistical Society William Guy Lecturer. Since taking on the role, Jeff has been delivering lectures about maths and statistics to school students around the UK and tomorrow he is due to speak in Belfast.

We caught up with him to find out how his experience in schools has been so far.

RSS outlines its priorities to new Education Secretary

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The new year brought a new Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, following a Cabinet reshuffle on 8 January. We wrote to Damian Hinds to summarise some of the Society's priorities for education and skills in 2018, outlined below.

The RSS believes that everyone needs to be able to use and interpret statistical information, to benefit their studies (regardless of subject), their everyday lives, their engagement in the democratic process, and their future careers. Statistics and data are increasingly important to a wide range of subjects and areas of industry and commerce. Employers have unmet demand for people with strong numeracy skills that can be applied, and there is a substantial skills gap in data-driven industries.

A winning formula: a Q&A with stats journalism winner Martin Beckford

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The RSS has just launched its Statistical Excellence in Journalism awards for 2018, which seeks to celebrate well-presented statistics in the media and reward those who use statistics well in their work to uncover insights on key public issues. Here we speak to the winner of last year’s Investigative Journalism category, Mail on Sunday home affairs editor Martin Beckford (pictured receiving his award), whose article focused on the number of police on duty at night in the UK.

Martin's article was described by the judges as 'an informative piece of journalism that examines an issue which is of huge relevance at the moment'. Using Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, he was able to access police staffing levels at night and, comparing these to ONS population figures, was able to present the huge number of people per officer at the time when most crimes take place.

RSS and SAGE partner to create data courses for social scientists

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SAGE Campus, a suite of online data science courses tailored for social scientists, has been launched in response to an emerging skills gap among social scientists looking to work with big data. The Royal Statistical Society partnered with SAGE Publishing for two of these courses, as SAGE head of methods intervention, Katie Metzler, explains.

You may have heard the phrase 'data is the new oil', which Clive Humby, mathematician and architect of Tesco’s Clubcard, is credited with saying first in 2006. The comparison between data and oil refers to its value being extracted through refinement; or in the case of data, through analysis. But unlike oil, data is being produced at a faster and faster rate every day. As Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, put it: 'A billion hours ago, modern homo sapiens emerged. A billion minutes ago, Christianity began. A billion seconds ago, the IBM PC was released. A billion Google searches ago … was this morning.'

RSS creates training pathways for vital statistical software skills

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Do you know your Spark from your Shiny? Do you know what a tidyverse is? The RSS has added a raft of new software courses to its training programme to help statisticians gain or improve on their knowledge of statistical software. Programme languages such as R and Python are covered as well as big data platforms such as Hadoop and Spark to manipulate data at scale.

R is a free language and environment for statistical computing and graphics. It is a popular choice for statisticians because it enables a wide variety of statistical tools for data analysis and graphical techniques and is highly extensible. This year, the RSS is offering more courses in R than ever and our 2018 course programme offers a pathway for non-experts to follow a foundation course through to advanced techniques. 

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