Voice of the Future: Bringing science to Parliament

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in Features

Every year, as part of British Science Week, Voice of the Future offers young scientists the chance to put questions about science policies to key political figures. This year, RSS fellows from our Young Statisticians Section, Lucy Teece and Johnathan Love, represented the field of statistics at the debate which was held in Parliament on 15 March.

Lucy Teece is a research associate in biostatistics at Keele University and Johnathan Love is a PhD student at the University of Strathclyde, researching statistical methodologies and experimental designs in animal health trials.

STEM for Britain: Showcasing science research in Westminster

Written by Kevin McConway on . Posted in Features

The STEM for Britain Awards is a prestigious poster competition for early career science researchers held in parliament during British Science Week. Our former vice president for academic affairs, Kevin McConway, has been a judge in the mathematics category ever since it was introduced three years ago. Here, he gives the lowdown on this year's event and its winners.

Originally this event was called SET for Britain (Science, Engineering and Technology), but in 2014, researchers in the mathematical sciences were allowed to enter as well, so it’s now called STEM for Britain. There are actually five separate competitions: physics; chemistry; biological and biomedical sciences; engineering; and mathematical sciences.

Building bridges between Westminster and science

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in Features

Since 2001, the Royal Society has run the Parliamentary Pairing scheme, enabling scientists and parliamentarians – either MPs or civil servants – to shadow each other at work. The aim of the scheme is to promote greater understanding between the science community and those who make the decisions that affect them.

One of the Royal Statistical Society’s statistical ambassadors, Liberty Vittert (pictured, left), took part in the scheme this year. Liberty is Mitchell lecturer in statistics at the University of Glasgow, and spent a week in London back in December 2016. For two days she shadowed her local MP Patrick Grady (also pictured), the Scottish National Party’s MP for Glasgow North. Prior to that she attended a series of preparatory talks for the scientists participating in the Parliamentary Pairing scheme, run by the Royal Society, to explain how parliament works and where opportunities for influencing policymaking exist.

Longitudinal studies: Not just for Christmas

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in Features

The UK has rich datasets of longitudinal population studies, dating back to the end of the Second World War, that help researchers study how our changing world affects people’s lives long term. As the Economics and Social Research Council (ESRC) undertakes a review of its longitudinal studies portfolio, we look at the background to the review and why the RSS (via its Social Statistics section) will be making its own contribution to help shape the future of this key part of the nation’s social science data infrastructure.

The ESRC’s review is covering future need, methodology, potential for data linkage and how its current longitudinal studies portfolio fits with the UK’s broader data infrastructure.

Measuring public trust in official statistics

Written by Ian Simpson on . Posted in Features

Ian Simpson of NatCen explains some of the findings published in a recent report looking at the public's views of UK official statistics. 

As part of its annual British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, NatCen Social Research measured views on UK official statistics and the organisation that produces them, the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The questions were also asked in the 2014 BSA survey, allowing for comparison of results.

RSS analysis of the REF shows breadth of stats in research

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in Features

The multi-disciplinary nature of statistics is evident in the way it's being utilised in research, examples of which range from predicting election results and modelling the spread of infections to creating a football player index, creating 3D models of heritage sites and improving weather forecasting. And these are just some of the areas of research that statistics is playing a significant part in, according to an RSS analysis of the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Last year, the RSS conducted analysis into hundreds of ‘impact case studies’ submitted to the 2014 REF; which were introduced to illustrate the impact that academic research has had across the UK and internationally, beyond academia. The RSS analysis sought to find out how many of these case studies included statistics.

Does air pollution kill 40,000 people each year in the UK?

Written by David Spiegelhalter on . Posted in Features

Air pollution is news. The Daily Mail claims that 'Air pollution is "killing 40,000 a year in the UK"’ Greenpeace says 40,000 lives were cut short by air pollution in the UK', while the Guardian reports 'Air pollution crisis "plagues" UK, finds UN human rights expert'. But where does the 40,000 figure come from, what does it mean, and is there really a ‘crisis’? I discovered that digging down to the basis for this figure required some statistical detective work, so brace yourself for some forensic details…

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