Experimental Statistics

What are Experimental Statistics?

Experimental statistics are a subset of newly developed or innovative official statistics undergoing evaluation. They are developed under the guidance of the Head of Profession for Statistics (HoP) and published to involve users and stakeholders in the assessment of their suitability and quality at an early stage. The goal is to develop statistics that after their successful development can be produced to the standards of the Code of Practice for Statistics.

The Code of Practice has a strong emphasis on innovation and improvement in ensuring the enduring public value of official statistics. The world doesn’t remain static – change is an inevitable part of life. Consequently, it is essential for producers of statistics to remain vigilant:

  • to identify the opportunities to use new sources and methods,
  • to recognise fresh needs for information among users, and
  • to review existing statistics to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of users.

An essential element of experimental statistics is the involvement of users in their evaluation. Producers need to be open and transparent about their approach to the development of their statistics, setting out their plans and timetables, and explaining the scope and nature of the development. They need to enable users to contribute to the development and testing of the experimental statistics.

Our Experimental Statistics guidance

We have published regulatory guidance about experimental statistics which sets out our expectations of producing these statistics in relation to the Code of Practice. The GSS Good Practice Team has published guidance to assist producers in developing experimental statistics.

Removing the Experimental statistics label

Once the evaluation of the experimental statistics is completed and, having decided that the statistics are suitable and of public value, then the label of ‘experimental statistics’ should be removed. The statistics should be published as ‘official statistics’, making sure to describe their strengths and limitations.

The producer may wish for the statistics to become designated as National Statistics. The same process would be followed as for other official statistics, with the Head of Profession contacting OSR and requesting an assessment.

A key consideration for OSR will be whether the redeveloped statistics were part of existing National Statistics, or if they are to be designated for the first time. When the statistics have been designated previously as National Statistics, OSR will consider whether a compliance check is appropriate. A full assessment will be required when the experimental statistics are new official statistics.