RSS urges UKRI chief exec to highlight purdah guidelines

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With a general election in the UK now just weeks away, the RSS has written to UKRI Chief Executive Professor Sir Mark Walport, reiterating the need to remind academics, via the research councils, of the changes in April 2018 regarding the clarification of rules on ‘purdah’ (the period of time immediately before elections or referenda when specific restrictions are placed on civil servants) and how they apply to scientists and researchers.

The letter (PDF) underlines the importance of communicating the clarified guidelines; in particular, allowing unrestricted commentary from independent sources such as academics throughout the election period.

Seminar and lecture in honour of Harvey Goldstein

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The University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (ICH) hosted a seminar and lecture celebrating the work of RSS CStat fellow and Guy Medallist in silver, Professor Harvey Goldstein, on the day of his 80th birthday - 30 October 2019.

The Catherine Peckham Symposium featured a number of RSS fellows, including Dr George Leckie, Professors Bill Browne and James Carpenter and Dr Katie Harron giving a retrospective of their work with Harvey, before he went on to give the prestigious Otto Wolff lecture

Mathematical sciences research to get funding boost in Scotland

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The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has announced that the research cost weighting for mathematical sciences funding is to be increased from 1.2 to 1.6, following a review by its Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee. The increase will take effect after the next Research Excellence Framework which takes place in 2021.

The announcement follows campaigning by the RSS’s Academic Affairs Advisory Group for maths funding in Scotland to be increased in line with its weighting in the other UK nations. Currently, it receives lower funding than other comparable subjects in Scotland. Representations were also made by others in the mathematical community, including Professor Sir Adrian Smith, who wrote to the SFC on behalf of the Council for Mathematical Sciences.

Significance magazine: October 2019 issue

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During World War II, more than 2,300 V-1 'flying bombs' fell on London, killing an estimated 5,500 people. Londoners observed at the time that bombs seemed to fall in clusters. But were these apparent clusters the result of targeting or random chance?

In the October 2019 issue of Significance, Liam P Shaw and Luke F Shaw follow in the footsteps of RD Clarke, the actuary who sought to answer this question. While telling Clarke’s story, they recreate his analysis using modern data science tools.

Bill to limit pre-release access proposed in Scottish parliament

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Last month, MSPs in the Scottish parliament voted in favour of a proposed bill to end ‘pre-release access’ (PRA) that ministers and officials currently have to key economic data.

The bill, proposed by the majority of MSPs on the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee back in June, includes proposals to remove PRA from GDP and retail sales statistics, and to reduce the five-day limit - currently applied to other categories of statistics - to just one day. The UK Statistics Authority chair, Sir David Norgrove, backed its plans in a letter to the committee’s convener, Gordon Lindhurst.

RSS and IFoA publish new ethical guidance on data science

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The Royal Statistical Society has partnered with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) to publish a practical guide for data science practitioners regarding the ethical use of data science.

The new guide is being launched at a event at RSS HQ on 7 October with RSS President Deborah Ashby, IFoA President John Taylor, Jeni Tennison of the Open Data Institute and Carly Kind of the Ada Lovelace Institute in panel discussion.

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