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:

Event report: Beveridge 75th anniversary lecture by Alan Milburn

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in Features

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.

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.

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.

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

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in Features

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.

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.

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