Data Science Task Force

Data science is central to the mission of the Society. Many RSS fellows work as data scientists; many others are involved in data driven activities or researching questions of statistical science that are vital to data science.

The growth of data science represents an enormous opportunity for statisticians and for statistics as a discipline. It also presents a challenge. The US National Science Foundation’s 2019 report, Statistics at a Crossroads describes this challenge in stark terms: 'the field of Statistics is at a crossroads: we either flourish by embracing and leading Data Science, or we decline and become irrelevant'.

Accordingly, under the leadership of the President, Professor Sylvia Richardson, the RSS has convened a task force to investigate how the RSS can deepen and extend its impact on the field of data science, and its offering to fellows who work as data scientists. 

The task force builds on the excellent work of the Society’s relevant Sections and Special Interest Groups, including the Data Science and AI section, the Computational Statistics and Machine Learning section, the Data Ethics and Governance section and the Women in Data Science and Statistics special interest group. It includes representatives from these groups.

The task force’s membership is:

Sylvia Richardson (University of Cambridge; RSS President)
Sophie Carr (Bays Consulting; RSS VP for Education and Statistical Literacy)
Mark Elliot (University of Manchester; Data Ethics and Governance section)
Arnoldo Frigessi (University of Oslo)
Mark Girolami (University of Cambridge)
David Hand (Imperial College; RSS past President
Rachel Hilliam (Open University; VP for Professional Affairs)
Rebecca Killick (Lancaster University; Computational Statistics and Machine Learning section)
Xiao Li Meng (Harvard University)
Sach Mukherjee (University of Cambridge and German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases)
Sofia Olhede (Ecole Federale Polytechnique de Lausanne; Women in Data Science and Statistics special interest group)
Jim Weatherall (AstraZeneca; Data Science and AI section and RSS Council)

With the support and guidance of the task force, the Society is focused on delivering three key data science initiatives:

Alliance for Data Science Professionals

The Society, as a founding member of the Alliance for Data Science Professionals, is working with partner organisations to establish professional standards for data scientists. The goal of the Alliance, and the standards, is ‘to ensure an ethical and well-governed approach [to data science] so the public, organisations and governments can have confidence in how their data is used’.

Data Science Professional Standards will officially launch in July 2022.

Data Science Journal

The Society is planning for a new online, peer-reviewed, open access journal for data science. Co-editors have been appointed and are in the process of establishing an editorial panel. A business case is being drawn up and potential funding models for the journal are being considered.

Data Science Platform

The Society is developing an online platform of data science resources targeted at leaders, practitioners, and learners. Surveys and interviews with members of the Society and the wider data science community are informing the creation of an editorial strategy and content plan for the platform. Recruitment for an editorial board is underway, and the Society has had initial conversations with potential partners about funding for the platform.