This page provides a gateway to guidance and resources about good practice in official statistics, especially on the topics of communicating statistics and working with users.
If you have examples of good practice to share, feedback on our work or would like to explore how we can help you then we would really like to hear from you.
Good Practice BlogCheck out the Good Practice blog for the latest news and views on communicating statistics and working with users
Doing the best we can to present statistical information clearly and in ways that maximise impact and usefulness is a key priority for the Government Statistical Service (GSS). The Communicating Statistics page brings together policy documents, practical guidance and case studies to help with this.
There are a range of networks and initiatives that you can get involved in to help improve the way you communicate statistics.
Presentation champions are a network of enthusiasts who champion excellence in the presentation and dissemination of official statistics. They help to improve the way we write about statistics and raise awareness of good practice in the way we present our work. They can provide tools and resources for understanding how to make improvements to statistical releases, along with the motivation and support to see these through.
A scrum involves a team of around 6 GSS colleagues coming together to review a publication put forward by a producer. A publication scrum offers a fresh perspective on your publication as participants are usually from outside of the producing department. They are a great opportunity to receive feedback from other statisticians, make improvements to your statistics release and work collaboratively with Other Government Departments and learn from the best practice of others who may have gone through a similar process.
Getting feedback from someone who hasn’t been involved in writing your statistical publication is a great way of identifying ways it can be improved. It’s quick and simple to do and often produces some ideas which you can implement really quickly. The Communicating Statistics page has some hints and tips on how to conduct a peer review, plus a case study from NISRA where they have used peer review with great results.
The Good Practice Team can call on a panel of influential users of statistics for their views on how statistics are communicated. The panel includes representatives from the BBC, Full Fact and the RSS, who help to identify improvements for our highest profile statistics. We’re also experimenting with some subject-specific panels, starting with one on health and care. If you’d like to find out whether a user panel could help you, please get in touch.
Training and Events
The Good Practice Team has lots of experience of facilitating workshops on improving statistical communication. If you’d like us to visit your department, please let us know.
We’ll be offering more free half-day training sessions on data visualisation in 2016 which anyone from the Government Statistical Service can attend. Let us know if you would like to host a session in your department.
This course provides an understanding of the fundamental design decisions and strategies needed to present statistical information effectively in tables and graphs. It also raises awareness of the problems people may have in perceiving the information encoded in a table or graph in a way that the designer intended.
The course focuses on core principles and how these are applied to static, non-interactive tables and graphs. We do not cover interactive data visualisation tools, but the core principles and theoretical issues that are discussed also underpin many of the decisions that are made when developing effective interactive content.
Understanding how our users work with official statistics and making sure that we deliver the information that they need is equally important. The Working with Users page provides policy documents, practical guidance and case studies to help you to understand who your users are and how to work with them to ensure that the statistics you produce are as useful as possible. The case studies take you through the whole journey of working with users, from identifying who they are to the different ways you can get their feedback.
There are a range of networks and initiatives that you can get involved in to help improve the way you work with users and respond to their needs.
User engagement champions
The Good Practice Team wants to set up a network of user engagement enthusiasts. If you’ve championed user engagement and would like to help others understand their users better, please get in touch.
StatsUserNet is an innovative community for users and producers of official statistics. With over 3,000 individual members, it is a well established forum for online user engagement. The website is structured around statistical communities of interest which facilitate dialogue between users and producers. Members come from a wide range of sectors – including central and local government, academia, business, the voluntary sector and the general public.
Does your topic area have a presence on StatsUserNet? Take a look at this blog from the Royal Statistical Society to find out more.
Training and Events
The Good Practice Team has lots of experience of facilitating workshops on improving engagement with users. If you’d like us to visit your department, please let us know. Keep an eye out for our series of sharing seminars, which often cover topics related to working with users.
For the GSS to be the best it can be, we need your help. Have you thought about starting or joining a good practice initiative in your department? There are lots of ways that you can help to improve the way we produce official statistics.
- Become a presentation champion or support your local presentation champion
- Start or join a peer review group
- Become a champion of user engagement, or support people you work with who are enthusiastic about engagement
- Do you have an example of good practice that could inspire your colleagues? Please share it with the good practice team
- Look out for the good practice events and come along. These include our Sharing Seminar series
The Good Practice Team arrange and facilitate Sharing Seminars for colleagues across the GSS to come together to learn, network and collaborate.
The seminar topics are driven by areas of current interest for GSS colleagues, giving an opportunity for them to share their work, learn from each other and network more widely.
The sessions are free of charge, usually between 2-3 hours in length and usually involve short presentations and live demonstrations as well as a time to ask questions.
For details of the next Sharing Seminar and presentations from recent seminars, visit the Sharing Seminars page or the GSS Slack network.