Comms and stats: a match made in heaven, or forged in hell?

Written by Joe Meaney on . Posted in Features

The day before European Statistics Day, the RSS hosted an event on the ethical use of statistics in advertising, marketing and public relations, with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). Joe Meaney from AprilSix Proof reports from the meeting. 

Communications professionals need to understand best practice in the use of statistics for their jobs, whether it is using research to underpin key messages in external campaigns or presenting data analysing the results of such campaigns to internal stakeholders.

ESRC longitudinal studies review: an update

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in Features

Back in March, our Social Statistics section discussed how we might engage with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) review of the future on investments in large longitudinal studies. A number of people got in touch to say the RSS should make some response. Here, we explain what progress has been made so far and how fellows and interested parties might engage further.

A longitudinal study is a research design that repeatedly observes a group of people (or cohort) over long periods of time. A famous example includes the Up television series, which has followed a group of same-aged people since 1964 when they were seven. They are often used by social scientists to study how life is changing over time.

What are the chances? The perils of communicating risk

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in Features

Dr Alexandra Freeman is executive director at the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, based at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics. We asked her about the new centre’s aims and why organisations like these are needed in a ‘post-truth’ age.

In a world where new breakthroughs in science and technology are giving us ever increasing amounts of data, we are often faced with complex decisions to make about our health, lifestyle, and how we navigate our way through everyday life. With so much information now available at our fingertips, it’s not surprising that some of us are finding it difficult to find – and understand – what’s out there.

Victory against spin: Ministers lose pre-release access to stats

Written by Hetan Shah on . Posted in Features

RSS executive director Hetan Shah explains why the move to prevent ministers getting access to official statistics before everyone else does will help to increase public trust in them.

In these 'post-truth' days of fake news and 'alternative facts', you could be forgiven for thinking facts and figures don’t stand much chance against the power of politicised misinformation. It can all get very depressing – so I’m pleased to be able to report a small but very important step forward in the fight for truth.

Maths science research needs a level playing field in Scotland

Written by Ian Strachan and Guy Nason on . Posted in Features

Statisticians researching in Scottish universities are getting a raw deal compared to those in the rest of the UK, because of discrepencies in the way research funding is handed out. Ian Strachan, President of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, and Guy Nason, Vice-President for academic affairs at the Royal Statistical Society, explain what is causing this and why it needs to change.

Consider a collaboration between two statisticians, one in England and one in Scotland, which results in a prestigious 4* (ie deemed ‘world leading’) paper. From such an equal collaboration, one would expect that the respective research councils, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), would fund the respective departments in the same way.

Not so.

The Smith Review: an opportunity to improve maths and stats skills

Written by Scott Keir on . Posted in Features

A new report on the future of mathematics education in England has just been published. Scott Keir, RSS head of education and statistical literacy, explains the background to the review and the role the RSS has played so far, as well as what we see as the next steps.

The government has just published a review of mathematics education for post-16 students in England by past president of the Royal Statistical Society, Professor Sir Adrian Smith.

Four ideas to tackle ‘Fake News’

Written by Leighton Andrews on . Posted in Features

Professor Leighton Andrews looks at the factors that contribute to 'fake news' and argues that a multi-faceted approach is required to challenge them.

There has always been ‘fake news’, but in the age of the smartphone and platforms like Facebook and Google, it has taken on a new character. Democracy depends on open public debate, and while arguments, opinions and emotions form part of that debate, and facts may be disputed or interpreted in different ways for partisan purposes, the trust that underpins democratic decision- making, including the outcomes of elections, requires some consensus on what is generally regarded to be ‘true’.

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