OSR and ADR UK have published original research to explore what the public perceive and understand to be ‘public good’ in use of data for research and statistics.

This is the first research of its kind to probe public perceptions around decisions made on public good in this way, identifying that the public do want to be more involved and consulted, especially when considering inequity or other complex social issues.

The research also found that participants want more public-facing communication about the use of their data for research and statistics. There was a strong desire for clear and accessible information to support participation and publication, following best practice and wider adoption of safeguarding principles (to increase confidence in data disclosure).

Five key findings emerged from discussions which took place during interviews (hosted by an independent research agency) with a diverse sample of participants:

  • Public involvement: Members of the public want to be involved in making decisions about whether public good is being served;
  • Real-world needs: Research and statistics should aim to address real-world needs, including those that may impact future generations and those that only impact a small number of people;
  • Clear communication: To serve the public good, there should be proactive, clear, and accessible public-facing communication about the use of data and statistics – to better communicate how evidence informs decision-making;
  • Minimise harm: Public good means data collected for research and statistics should minimise harm (and not contribute to anything harmful); and
  • Best practice safeguarding: Universal application of best practice safeguarding principles to ensure secure access to data should help people feel confident to disclose data.

OSR and ADR UK believe it is integral to engage with the public to develop a complete understanding of the public good, and will work to understand how these findings can best be implemented to achieve maximum impact.

Ed Humpherson, Director General at Office for Statistics Regulation, said:

This report presents fascinating and novel insights into an important subject and makes a strong contribution to our understanding of how the public perceive the public good of data for research and statistics.

Dr Emma Gordon, Director at ADR UK, continued:

This public dialogue is a milestone for the programme. The insights generated from this work will be carefully considered as we seek to inform practices across the ADR UK programme.

Note to Editors

Here is more information on Office for statistics Regulation (OSR) and Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK).

These research findings were conducted independently by Kohlrabi Consulting and are the result of 24 hours of discussion with the public.

The research agency undertook in-person workshops in Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, and London for a widely representative sample, plus additional online workshops to complete this survey work.