Today we have published our review ‘The public good of statistics; what we know so far’. This review has been published as part of our Research Programme launched in 2019, to better understand the public good of statistics.

Mary Cowan, who is a Research Specialist working on the programme, outlined how the review will help us to better understand how statistics serve the public good by giving us better clarity on what is known, and what is not known about this subject. She said:

“This review contributes towards our overall aim, but this is just a starting point for the research programme. The review considers how the public good is defined. This phrase is sometimes used interchangeably with other similar phrases, ‘public interest’ for example, but it is not well understood what the ‘public good’ really means for the public themselves.”

As well as discussing this definition, the review covers four approaches to how the public good of statistics can be measured and understood.

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation at OSR, commented on the importance of the review and said:

“This literature review is an important first step in establishing an evidence base for the public good of statistics. This will help to guide future work in our Research Programme, as we try to develop our understanding of the public good of statistics”.

At OSR, we want to make sure that statistics are relevant, useful, and clearly communicated to the public. The first two parts of our mission are achieved through our regulatory work, and the third part will be achieved through the Research Programme. You can read more in our Research Programme Overview.


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Are statistics serving the Public Good? Our Research Programme is going to help us find out