The RSS ‘Parliament Counts’ campaign delivered another training session on interpreting data and statistical concepts at the Scottish Parliament in June.
RSS fellows, Professors Sheila Bird and Marian Scott, along with Scott Heald of NHS Scotland, delivered the session ‘Critical numbers: What questions you need to ask’ to Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) staff.
By looking at key issues in Scottish policy making context such as A&E waiting times, polls regarding the Scotland referendum and teenage pregnancy rates, the session covered statistical concepts such as surveys and sampling, percentage points, confidence intervals, correlation vs causation and some concepts in probability.
'The RSS training session provided a great overview of the use of data and statistics in policy-making,' said Angus Evans, a senior researcher at SPICe. 'It was pitched at just the right level, focused on practical examples and presented in an thoroughly engaging way.'
The workshop at Holyrood was the fifth training session that the RSS has held for parliamentarians as part of its ongoing Parliament Counts initiative. The campaign, which launched prior to the 2015 general election, encouraged the public to write to their local election candidates and ask them to commit to statistical training, if elected. The campaign resulted in thousands of messages sent to candidates around the country, with three sessions being held for MPs and their staff in Westminster and a session for the Welsh Assembly.