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, for the good of society. 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.
Our research helps to inform and guide our influencing and policy work; 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
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. The recommendations are grouped into three key objectives to make the whole process simpler for employers to understand, harder for anyone to ‘game’, and generating clearer results so that employers’ progress can more easily be assessed. If implemented, our recommendations would bring about significant improvements in the UK’s system and create a better template for adoption elsewhere.
Young people’s statistical education
In 2018, secondary school mathematics teacher Robert Silk wrote a report for the RSS, 'How Statistics is taught around the world; Identifying good practice' (currently being finalised). The report considers the current trends internationally in statistics education in school-level education in statistics and data, focusing on any recent changes or planned changes to curricula or practice in a range of countries.
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 Royal Statistical Society and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries on 11 September 2013. A Summary of the report, as well as an Opinion piece written by Roger, are also available to read.
Roger Porkess also produced the report: The future of statistics in our schools and colleges (PDF) for the Royal Statistical Society and the Actuarial Profession. This was published on 19 January 2012.
Statistics and the law
The RSS collaborated with the Inns of Court College of Advocacy to produce a short introductory guide for barristers, Statistics and probability for advocates: understanding the use of statistical evidence in courts and tribunals, published in October 2017. This guide seeks to assist advocates with understanding, presenting and challenging expert evidence in court.
The RSS has a Statistics and Law Section which emerged from a working group of the same name. The Working Group produced detailed Practitioner Guides for judges, lawyers, forensic scientists and expert witnesses. This work was supported by the Nuffield Foundation.
The Royal Statistical Society’s 'Data Manifesto' (PDF) describes ten recommendations and focuses on how the UK government can improve data for policymaking, democracy and for prosperity (the Data Manifesto's headlines are also available to download as a PDF). Briefing notes are available that explore the Manifesto’s policy positions:
Increasing access to local data (PDF), published in June 2017
Public trust and pre-release access to statistics (PDF), published in May 2017
Education and skills for the data economy (PDF), published in November 2016
Putting evidence at the heart of policy debate (PDF), published in April 2016
Increasing UK investment in research, science and innovation (PDF), published in April 2015
Data skills needs in industry
Data analytics: the skills need in STEM is a report of a conference held on 16 November 2016 in partnership with the Royal Society. The report highlights the issues around supply and demand for data scientists in the UK, the skills needed, tools available for data analytics and potential solutions to address skills gap in this area. Published: 13 February 2017
Model workers: how leading companies are recruiting and managing data talent (PDF) was published by Nesta, Creative Skillset and the Royal Statistical Society on 9 July 2014. A summary of the report is also available.
In February 2013, Kevin McConway published Remarks on the future of academic statistics in the UK (PDF) for the Royal Statistical Society.
Kevin took part in a Q&A summarising the report.
Big data: opportunities and ethics
This Royal Statistical Society (RSS) report on the opportunities and ethics of Big Data (PDF), published in February 2016, summarises the programme and discussion of a consultation event convened in partnership with St George’s House on 27th-28th November 2015.
A summary of the event and report is also available on StatsLife.
The Research Excellence Framework (the REF)
A report and data table on the impact of academic statistics as shown through ‘impact case studies’ submitted to the 2014 REF was completed in 2016 by Rebecca Pullinger and Olivia Varley-Winter, and published in January 2017. The project makes use of of HEFCE’s Impact Case Study database and was commissioned with the Academic Affairs Advisory Group.
The RSS Working Group on Research Excellence Framework League Tables produced a report in May 2015. The REF assesses research quality in UK universities and this is published as 'league tables'. The working group was convened to examine methodology and to make recommendations. A summary of its report is available on StatsLife.
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 to be used for uprating purposes or for tracking the evolution of real incomes.
The 'data trust deficit' and 'perils of perception'
The RSS commissioned two surveys around the theme of data public trust and understanding.
The data trust deficit: Trust in data and attitudes toward data use and data sharing in the UK was published by the Royal Statistical Society and Ipsos MORI on 22 July 2014. (A Summary, Slides, and Tables from the research are available).<
Perils of perceptions: the top ten misperceptions the British public have on key social policy issues was also published by Ipsos MORI, the Royal Statistical Society and King’s College London on 9 July 2013. A launch event video is available to view, as is a summary of the press coverage received when it was published.
Winter 2011 Survey of MPs
These Topline Findings prepared for the Royal Statistical Society’s getstats campaign (PDF) show results from Ipsos MORI’s winter 2011 survey of Britain’s Members of Parliament.
- Fieldwork dates: 1 November – 20 December 2011
- 97 MPs answered the getstats questions (Conservative 41, Labour 44, Liberal Democrats 9, and Others 3)
- An initial sample of 325 MPs were contacted to ensure that those interviewed closely represented the profile of the House of Commons
- Interviews were conducted face-to-face
Statistical issues in clinical trials
Proposals for reforms in first trials of experimental drugs were set out in a report by our working party on statistical issues in first-in-man studies. The report, published on 12 March 2007, made recommendations to:
- Minimise drug trial risk
- Maximise design efficiency
- Improve protocol review
Download the full report – ‘Statistical issues in first-in-man studies’ (PDF).
For more information download the annex by Sheila Bird ‘Freedom of information appeal: design of MHRA-approved first-in-man studies and associated reporting of suspected serious adverse reactions’ (PDF)
Royal Statistical Society outreach and services
In 2007, we examined how to meet and engage with the needs of statistical analysts and users of statistics, and establish a stronger and more coordinated outreach.
Download the full report – ‘Report of the Kershaw working party on Royal Statistical Society outreach and services’ (PDF).
Performance monitoring in the public services
We issued a public statement regarding our views on performance indicators in the public services on 23 October 2003.
Download the full report – ‘Performance indicators: good, bad, and ugly’ (PDF).
For more information download the press release (PDF) and the workshop notes (PDF).
Preserving and sharing statistical data
In 2002, we worked with the UK Data Archive on a report that raises organisational awareness of the value and benefits of preserving and sharing statistical material.
Download the full report – 'Preserving and sharing statistical data’ (PDF).