Experimental statistics – official statistics in development

2 August 2019
Last updated:
30 June 2022

The Code of Practice and experimental statistics

The practices that are particularly relevant to producing experimental statistics are shown below:

Independent decision-making and leadership (T2)

T2.1 The Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics should have sole authority for deciding on methods, standards and procedures, and on the content and timing of the release of regular and ad hoc official statistics. This should include: determining the need for new official statistics, ceasing the release of official statistics, and the development of experimental statistics.

Sound methods (Q2)

Q2.2 Statistics, data and metadata should be compiled using recognised standards, classifications and definitions. They should be harmonised to be consistent and coherent with related statistics and data where possible. Users should be provided with reasons for deviations from these standards and explanations of any related implications for use.

Q2.3 Statistics producers should be transparent about methods used, giving the reasons for their selection. The level of detail of the explanation should be proportionate to the complexity of the methods chosen and reflect the needs of different types of users and uses.

Q2.4 Relevant limitations arising from the methods and their application, including bias and uncertainty, should be identified and explained to users. An indication of their likely scale and the steps taken to reduce their impact on the statistics should be included in the explanation.

Q2.5 Producers of statistics and data should provide users with advance notice about changes to methods, explaining why the changes are being made. A consistent time series should be produced, with back series provided where possible. Users should be made aware of the nature and extent of the change.

Q2.6 Statistics producers should collaborate with topic and methods experts and producers of related statistics and data wherever possible.

Relevance to users (V1)

V1.1 Statistics producers should maintain and refresh their understanding of the use and potential use of the statistics and data. They should consider the ways in which the statistics might be used and the nature of the decisions that are or could be informed by them.

V1.3 User satisfaction with the relevance and usefulness of the statistics and data should be reviewed routinely. This should consider the timeliness, accessibility, clarity and accuracy of the statistics and data.

V1.5 The views received from users, potential users and other stakeholders should be addressed, where practicable. Statistics producers should consider whether to produce new statistics to meet identified information gaps. Feedback should be provided to them about how their needs can and cannot be met, being transparent about reasons for the decisions made and any constraints.

V1.6 Statistics producers should periodically review whether to continue, discontinue, adapt or to provide the statistics through other means, in discussion with users and other stakeholders.

Innovation and improvement (V4)

V4.1 Statistics producers should keep up to date with developments that can improve statistics and data. They should be transparent in conducting their development  activities, and be open about the outcomes and longer-term development plans.

V4.2 Statistics producers should consider testing and releasing new official statistics initially as experimental statistics, under the guidance of the Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics.

V4.3 Users should be involved in the ongoing development of statistics and data, exploring and testing statistical innovations, so that the statistics remain relevant and useful.

V4.4 Statistics producers should seek to collaborate with other producers, including within the UK and internationally, when developing their statistics, overcoming practical obstacles, and sharing best practice.

V4.5 Statistics producers should keep up to date with developments that might improve methods and quality. They should assess the added value of potential improvements and consider the likely impact on the statistics, including in relation to comparability and coherence.

V4.6 Producers should commit to improve data presentation, enhance insight, and better meet the needs of different types of users and potential users in the dissemination of their statistics and data.

V4.7 New and innovative ways to engage users, potential users and other stakeholders should be considered and adopted as appropriate.

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