Accessing methodological advice
All government departments can access free methodological advice from the Government Statistical Service (GSS).
If you have a minor query please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your request is more in depth you might need the GSS Methodology Advisory Committee (GSS MAC) or the GSS Methodology Advisory Service (GSS MAS).
The Government Statistical Service Methodology Advisory Committee (GSS MAC) is a free service providing departments across the GSS with methodological advice. It facilitates access to a pool of subject matter experts spanning academia, the private sector, the GSS and other National Statistical Institutes.
The GSS MAC can advise on all parts of the statistical production process, covering areas such as:
- survey methods
- administrative data methods
- data linkage
- data science
- innovation and development of new methods
The GSS MAC is accountable to the Statistical Policy and Standards Committee and managed by the Best Practice and Impact division within the Office for National Statistics.
The GSS MAC supports the GSS to shape and improve standards for methods, contributing to the credibility and usefulness of government statistics, offering:
- expert advice and peer-review on individual research at various stages, from preliminary methods and ideas to more advanced work, providing advice on next steps
- scoping and engagement work on developing new methods, including workshops and meetings to tackle specific methodological challenges
- independent state-of-the-art expert methods reviews
- a collaborative approach to addressing methodological issues, encouraging knowledge sharing, and increasing ties between the GSS and the wider expert community
Types of request
The GSS MAC responds to two main types of requests:
1. Individual requests for expert advice and/or peer-review on specific projects
Example: A GSS statistician developing a new methodology for weighting a survey can ask GSS MAC for direct and tailored expert advice during the planning stage, while work is in progress, or obtain peer-review upon completion.
2. Scoping requests for developing new methodological frameworks and/or expert reviews in response to GSS priorities
Example: A GSS department developing new methods for ensuring privacy and data confidentiality can gain a fresh insight into methodological innovations from outside the GSS through a GSS MAC scoping meeting. This meeting gathers together leading subject matter experts and is accompanied with continuous follow-up support and assurance from GSS MAC advisors.
- Request received via email (GSSMAC@statistics.gov.uk).
- Requirements clarified.
- Appropriate GSS MAC advisors identified.
- Timelines and necessary engagement work agreed.
- Work progresses through virtual meetings, face to face meetings, email or correspondence through the GSS MAC workspace on Slack.
- Advice or peer review received by customer.
When requests are received, the GSS MAC take a flexible approach tailored to the specifics of each case. Completion time will depend on request complexity and advisor availability.
However, we aim to deal with individual requests in around 15 to 25 days and scoping requests in around 30 to 90 days.
Benefits for GSS departments
- Timely advice and support to resolve a specific methodological issue.
- Expert advice and evidence to inform GSS strategy and resource prioritisation in developing existing and new methodologies.
- Peer-review of work in progress.
- Potential for follow-on research support from advisor or associates.
- Value added from discussion and debate between experts in scoping meetings.
- Opportunity to keep abreast of research and development taking place outside GSS in a focused manner.
- Closer ties with non-GSS experts and institutions.
Benefits for GSS MAC advisors
- Recognition for resolving a specific methodological case or contribution to shaping government statistics.
- Potential to include work in relevant conference and symposium papers and journal publications.
- Invitations to follow-up GSS MAC workshops and meetings.
- Greater insight into challenges faced by statisticians in government.
- GSS-wide opportunities to shadow the end-to-end process to develop capability.
- Closer ties with GSS statisticians and wider network of GSS MAC advisors.
Case study: Use of administrative data
In response to the GSS priority to adapt to the increasing role of administrative data in statistics production, the GSS MAC organised meetings and workshops to gather together 80 leading experts from academia, private sector and the GSS. They discussed challenges and set the strategic direction for the future development of administrative data methods across GSS.
Follow-up meetings and workshops were held across various GSS sites due to strong interest in the subject, and a specific channel on Slack was established to facilitate continuous engagement and discussion of administrative data challenges.
The GSS Methodology Advisory Service (GSS MAS) is a free service providing methodological advice and guidance. More information about GSS MAS will be added soon.