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. 

Gender data gap: What we know and what we don’t - event report

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On 18 January 2018 the RSS co-hosted a meeting with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) called The gender data gap: Exploring the evidence base. Chaired by BBC More or Less presenter Charlotte McDonald, the event featured a keynote speech by the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP (pictured), who chairs the Women and Equalities Select Committee. Emma Rourke, director of public policy analysis at ONS and Wanda Wyporska, executive director of the Equality Trust, were also on the panel.

Charlotte McDonald opened the full-to-capacity meeting by pointing out that the word ‘gap’ can refer to a gap in our knowledge; but it can also describe disparities within the data we have. This meeting, she said, was likely to cover both meanings. She pointed out that domestic duties are not always recognised in labour surveys and gave an example of where the official number of people in jobs in Uganda suddenly jumped upwards when the question measuring this was changed to ask about ‘secondary’ as well as ‘primary’ jobs. Women whose primary role was domestic began to record secondary jobs when they hadn’t before.

Event report: Launch of 'Statistics and Probability for Advocates'

Written by Anthony Cutler on . Posted in Features

RSS fellow and lawyer Anthony Cutler went to the launch of our new guide to statistics for those working in law. Here he reports on what both legal and statistical experts had to say about it.

'Probability is not foreign to the law. Evidence … is primarily a legal notion …' - Ian Hacking, The Emergence of Probability.

I was reminded of this quote on the evening of 27 November which saw the launch of Statistics and Probability for Advocates, a joint initiative of the Royal Statistical Society and the Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA). The guide is an educational resource and ready reference for judges, barristers, solicitors and others who have to present and challenge statistical evidence at trial.

Event report: Beveridge 75th anniversary lecture by Alan Milburn

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On 29 November 2017, the Rt Hon Alan Milburn delivered Beveridge Lecture at the Royal Statistical Society, which this year commemorates the 75th anniversary of William Beveridge's famous report. With a lecture titled 'Slaying the "Five giants: Past, present and future"', the former government Health Secretary and current chair of the Social Mobility Commission proposed 'five giant reforms' relevant to today's challenges.

Sir William Beveridge was RSS president when he publishing his landmark report Social Insurance and Allied Services, released on 1 December 1942. Alan praised the Report’s radicalism, which successfully tackled Beveridge’s famous ‘five giants’ - ‘want’, ‘disease’, ‘ignorance’, ‘squalor’ and ‘idleness’ - and laid the foundations for the National Health Service and post-war welfare state.

A Q&A with National Statistician John Pullinger

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John Pullinger is a former Royal Statistical Society president and has held the top job in UK official statistics since 2014. As UK National Statistician, he is head of the Government Statistical Service and chief executive of the UK Statistics Authority; the latter role includes responsibility for the Office for National Statistics.

We asked John about his role in measuring the UN's new Sustainable Development Goals, the next census and why more people should join the Royal Statistical Society.

Data and statistics in the UK industrial strategy

Written by Olivia Varley-Winter on . Posted in Features

The Royal Statistical Society's policy manager, Olivia Varley-Winter, looks at new government proposals around data, evidence and statistics and explains how the RSS intends to help shape them as they move forward.

Our Data Manifesto points to data as a driver of prosperity. After the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget, the UK government released a white paper setting out its industrial strategy which recognises, in several different ways, how important it is for the UK to harness data for prosperity and decision making:

Meet the RSS president: A Q&A with David Spiegelhalter

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Nearly halfway through his presidency of the RSS, Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter talks about the Society's latest initiatives and its relationship with the Office for National Statistics.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Mainly the dog wanting to go out for a walk. But after that’s done, then listening to the radio generally gets me enervated: so many claims are made without evidence to back them up, and interviewers are not good at challenging ‘how do you know that?’. So after shouting at the radio for a bit, I am ready for a day working on communication and statistical literacy.

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