Reports and guides
Our key objective is for statistics to be used effectively in the public interest, so that policy formulation and decision-making are informed by evidence. To support this work, from time to time we commission research, expert panels, working groups or workshops, sometimes in partnership with other organisations, to investigate issues from which reports are published.
We also engage in outreach activities to take forward recommendations which result from our research.
Recent reports have explored the following topics:
- Ten proposed reforms to improve gender pay gap reporting
- Young people’s statistical education
- Statistics and the law
- The RSS Data Manifesto
- Data skills needs in industry
- Big data: opportunities and ethics
- The Research Excellence Framework (the REF)
- Price indices and measurement of inflation
A Guide for Ethical Data Science
A Guide for Ethical Data Science
The Royal Statistical Society 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 guide was launched at RSS HQ on 7 October 2019.
Data science – the increasing use of large datasets for analysis and decision-making – is becoming of increasing interest with the growth of new data sources and increased computing power. As a result, the ethical significance of data science, and the implications for industries and the wider public, is constantly evolving.
As data science methods become more common practice within statistical and actuarial fields, there are both opportunities and challenges for practitioners. The new guide, for both RSS and IFoA members as well as other data scientists, was developed through engaging with practitioners around the UK and builds upon existing tools and frameworks. This guide focuses on five broad principles of data ethics and ways of considering these within data science work; avoiding harm, supporting the value of data science for society, maintaining professional competence, increasing trustworthiness and maintaining accountability and oversight.
Download 'A Guide for Ethical Data Science'.
Additional information and resources: ethical data science is also available to download.
Ten proposed reforms to improve gender pay gap reporting
The RSS has released ten recommendations to improve the UK’s system of gender pay gap reporting. Their implementation could create a system that would be simpler for employers to understand, harder for anyone to ‘game’ and generate clearer results, so progress can more easily be assessed.
Young people’s statistical education
In 2018, secondary school mathematics teacher Robert Silk drafted a report for the RSS, 'How Statistics is taught around the world; Identifying good practice'. It report considers the current trends, internationally, in school-level education in statistics and data.
The RSS and the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) reported on how statistical content that has been specified for reformed A levels in England might be implemented.
Embedding statistics at A level: a report on statistical requirements and assessment across A level courses in Biology, Business, Chemistry, Geography, Psychology and Sociology (PDF) was published in July 2015.
A world full of data: statistics opportunities across A Level subjects (PDF), by Roger Porkess and Stella Dudzic, was published for the RSS and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in September 2013. A Summary of the report is also available to read, together with an Opinion piece by Roger.
Roger Porkess also produced the report: The future of statistics in our schools and colleges (PDF) for the RSS and the Actuarial Profession. This was published in January 2012.
Law practitioner guides
The guides look at communicating and interpreting statistical evidence in the administration of criminal justice. They are intended to assist judges, lawyers, forensic scientists and other expert witnesses in coping with the demands of modern criminal litigation.
The four practitioner guides are:
ICCA / RSS guide: Statistics and probability for advocates
Statistics and probability for advocates: understanding the use of statistical evidence in courts and tribunals is an introductory guide for advocates produced by the Society with the Inns of Court College of Advocacy.
Data skills needs in industry
Big data: opportunities and ethics
This RSS reported on the opportunities and ethics of Big Data (PDF), published in February 2016, summarising the programme and discussion of a consultation event convened in partnership with St George’s House in November 2015.
The Research Excellence Framework (the REF)
Price Indices and measurement of inflation
Jill Leyland and John Astin wrote a paper in May 2015, Towards a Household Inflation Index, at the request of the RSS, to take forward a discussion in the RPI/CPI User Group on the question of establishing a new household-based inflation index designed expressly for uprating purposes or for tracking the evolution of real incomes.