RSS sections and groups meeting reports

Social Statistics section AGM 2015 report

Written by Kamila Buczek on . Posted in Sections and local group meeting reports

The Social Statistics section held its annual general meeting Wednesday 18th November 2015 at 5pm. This report reviews its programme since the last AGM in November 2014.

On 13 November 2014 we held the Cathie Marsh lecture, 'Anonymisation: are data we release safe?' with speakers Mark Elliot (University of Manchester), Ross Anderson (University of Cambridge) and Kieron O’Hara (University of Southampton) discussing the pros and cons for research of data security and related anonymisation procedures. This was followed with a drinks reception kindly sponsored by the Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (CMIST), University of Manchester.

In February 2015 we held a meeting on The ONS Longitudinal Study - 40 years old and going strong with speakers Nicky Rogers (ONS), Franz Buscha (University of Westminster) and Nicola Shelton (CeLSIUS, University College London), who gave a very interesting overview of how the study has been used over the years, some findings on social mobility and information for prospective users of the study.

In June we held two meetings, The first was on Statistical Fallacies in Research and the Media with commentator Emily Grossman, Chris McManus (University College London) and David Hand (Imperial College) who presented entertainingly on a range of interesting widely held misconceptions followed by a drinks reception kindly sponsored by the Sheffield Methods Institute. The second meeting was an interesting half day event with a range of international speakers on Making statistical sense of the life course with Marc Scott (New York University), Jacques-Antoine Gauthier (Lausanne University) and Brendan Halpin (Limerick University).

In September we held a joint event with the Association of Survey Computing on The Achievements of the Q-Step Programme with  Jackie Carter (Q-Step Co-Director, University of Manchester), David Lewis (AudienceNet), Anna Kiel (Q-Step intern) and Amanda White (Home Office). This covered the achievements of the Q-Step in developing skills in quantitative research in the fields of social and market research, and was a joint event with the Association for Survey Computing. Additionally the University of Exeter and City University did present on their Q-Step internship plans. There was also an opportunity for presenters and delegates to meet at a small drinks reception kindly sponsored by the ASC when the main event finishes.

Additionally in September, the section organising two well attended and topical sessions at the RSS conference on The science of electoral forecasting with Ben Lauderdale (LSE), Andreas Murr (University of Oxford) and Stephen Fisher (University of Oxford) and Big Data – the challenges of using large non-random data sets chaired by Pat Malloy (on behalf of the Association of Survey Computing) with speakers Jane Naylor (ONS), Maria Fasli (University of Essex) and Colin Strong (GfK). In October we had a half day meeting entitled Administrative Data Research Network - Making it easier to use administrative data with the programme covering how the ADRN can help researchers, as well as discussion of current research using UK administrative data, the RSS Data Manifesto with Hetan Shah, Executive Director, Royal Statistical Society and the strategic partnerships by Vanessa Cuthill, Deputy Director, ESRC.

In November we held a well-attended evening meeting on The rise of RCTs in Education: Statistical and Practical Challenges with Carole Torgerson (Durham University), Ben Styles (Research Director at National Foundation for Educational Research), Victoria Menzies (Research Trial Officer at Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) and Kevan Collins (Chief Executive of Education Endowment Foundation).

Our annual joint event with the Social Research Association, the Cathie March Lecture, this year was on the topic 'What does the failure of the polls tell us about the future of survey research?' Patrick Sturgis, professor of research methodology and director of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods, gave a very interesting presentation and the chair and discussant Jill Matheson (former National Statistician) sparked  lively discussion from the large audience. A drinks reception was kindly sponsored by the Sheffield Methods Institute.
In December a joint event with Official Statistics Section took place on the 2014-based national population projections. Paul Vicker, head of population outputs at the ONS, described the methods and discussant Jane Falkingham (University of Southampton) led a useful discussion.

Some reports on these and other meetings can be found at:

The Section would like to record its gratitude to Chris Kershaw, now retiring as our chair, Emma Wright and George Leckie who retire as ordinary members of the committee as well as Alison Walker who has been secretary but now reverts to being an ordinary member. They have all made an excellent contribution to the section’s work and have contributed a great deal to the development of our programme of activities.

If you would like to join the email distribution list, to receive details of meetings organised by the RSS Social Statistics Section, please register at the following site:

The following list of nominees for the Section Committee has been received and no further nominations have been made. This is therefore the committee membership for 2016:

Chair: Tricia Dodd
Vice-chair: Joel Williams
Secretary: Ian Brunton-Smith
Meetings secretary: Gwilym Pryce  

Nickie Rose
David Hussey
Natalie Shlomo
Tom King
Nick Moon
Tom King
Alison Walker reverts to ordinary member from being secretary
Matthew Dray new member
Salah Merad new member

John MacInnes (Council Representative)
Richard Laux  (Co-opted as link to the Official Statistics Section)

Social Statistics section

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