The 26th GSS Methodology Symposium

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The Methodology and Quality Directorate in ONS is hosting the 26th GSS Methodology Symposium.

About this event

The GSS Methodology Symposium is an event to celebrate innovation in statistical methods and research across the GSS.

This event, held over two half days, aims to:

  • Promote innovation in and debate around methods and research to produce official statistics and analysis.
  • Encourage collaborative working by bringing together analysts from across the GSS, the broader Government Analysis Function and other interested stakeholders including academia, international statistical organisations and the private sector.

The coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic and Brexit have highlighted the importance of the UK Statistical System to inform on economic and social disruption. Together with major programmes such as Census 2021, the National Data Strategy, the Levelling Up and Net Zero agendas and the Integrated Data Programme, methods and research within official statistics and analysis are facing unprecedented challenges for innovation.

This year the symposium theme is statistical methods in an age of disruption.

Agenda (Subject to change)

Day One: Tuesday 2 November

9:30-10:00 - Introduction

  • Sarah Henry, Director of Methodology and Quality Directorate, Office for National Statistics (ONS)
  • Alison Pritchard, Deputy National Statistician and Director General for Data Capability, ONS

10:00-10:25 - Opening speech: Sir Ian Diamond, National Statistician

10:25-10:35 - Break

10:35-11:35 - Day one parallel session talks – four sessions, subject to presenter availability, from the following topics:

  • Big Data/Administrative data
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Economy
  • Integrated Data
  • Policy Agendas: Brexit/Levelling Up/Net Zero
  • Social Surveys
  • Economic Surveys
  • Census

11:35-11:45 - Break

11:45-12:55 - Panel session: Collaboration in an age of disruption

Chair: Rachel Skentelbery, Deputy Director, Quality and Improvement, ONS Panelists:

  • Dr Ben Goldacre, Director of The DataLab, University of Oxford
  • Sarah Henry, Director of Methodology and Quality Directorate, ONS
  • Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Professor of Primary Care and Diabetes, University of Leicester, Member of Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE)
  • Dr Paula McLeod, Head of Profession for Statistics, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
  • Tom Smith, Director of Data Science Campus, ONS

12:55-13:00 - Thanks - end of the sessions: Sarah Henry, Director of Methodology and Quality Directorate, ONS

Day Two: Wednesday 3 November

9:30-9:45 - Recap on day one and introduction to day two: Sarah Henry, Director of Methodology and Quality Directorate, ONS

9:45-10:25 - Keynote: Professor David Spiegelhalter, Chair, Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, University of Cambridge

10:25-10:30 - Break

10:30-11:30 - Parallel session talks two – four sessions, subject to presenter availability, from the following topics:

  • Big Data/Administrative data
  • Census
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Economy
  • Integrated Data
  • Policy Agendas: Brexit/Levelling Up/Net Zero
  • Social Surveys
  • Economic Surveys

11:30-12:00 - Break – poster session

12:00-12:55 - Roundtable sessions

12:55- 13:00 - Closing speech: Sarah Henry, Director of Methodology and Quality Directorate, ONS

Roundtable sessions (TBC):

1. Re-designing surveys in a rapidly changing world - Survey researchers had to respond quickly to the suspension of fieldwork data collection because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This included developing new survey designs and testing questions and concepts remotely. What did we learn from this?

2. Building capability in methods - A discussion about approaches for building capability across government in methods. For example, sharing best practice, training, tools, code, developing networks and collaboration across government and academia.

3. Protecting confidentiality of respondents within our statistics - Understanding the methods and building capability across government on privacy and disclosure control. Areas for discussion could include:

  • Testing data for confidentiality risk
  • Intruder testing
  • Reconstruction or newer attacks
  • Challenges faced in ensuring confidentiality in extraordinary times
  • Synthetic data to avoid reidentification and privacy
  • New approaches to making more outputs available

4. What makes a Reproducible Analytical Pipeline (RAP) more, or less, robust? - We implement RAPs to reliably implement methods. But in practice they are run by teams with less experienced programmers and limited development resources. What are the best ways to build and implement RAPs?

5. Quality assurance of methods - How do you know the methods you use are fit for purpose, and how do you know you’ve done them right?

6. Significance and substance - The use and misuse of statistical inference has led to debate around how best to describe the patterns we see, taking account of uncertainty. Inappropriate statistical testing can mislead users by, for example, overstating the importance of significant changes, or focusing too narrowly on detailed comparisons. What should, and shouldn't, we do?

The final agenda will be included in your delegate information pack, which you will receive prior to the event.

Privacy notice

The Office for National Statistics are hosting the GSS Methodology Symposium on behalf of the Government Statistical Service. The data you provide will be used by ONS to contact you in connection with your event booking and to understand the attendance level and interest in the event. ONS will store your data securely on our IT infrastructure and your data will not be shared with other organisations. Personal data will be deleted no later than eight weeks after the event takes place.

If you have a question about how we process your personal data and you can’t find the answer on our website, you can contact our Data Protection Officer at DPO@statistics.gov.uk or 0845 6013034. To find out more about your rights under data protection legislation, or how to raise a concern with the Information Commissioner, see our website www.ons.gov.uk/dataprotection or the Information Commissioners Office at https://ico.org.uk.

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Please note sessions in GSSM26 will be recorded.

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Organiser Government Statistical Service

Organiser of The 26th GSS Methodology Symposium

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