The UK Statistics Authority has launched a user review questionnaire to gather feedback for the development of its popular ethics self-assessment tool.
Last month the UK Statistics Authority launched its new Centre for Applied Data Ethics (CADE) with the aim to provide applied data ethics support and guidance to the research and statistical community in order to enable ethically appropriate research and statistical production.
CADE’s strategy builds upon work that the Authority’s data ethics team have undertaken over the last few years, including:
- development of ethical principles,
- creation of a self-assessment tool to enable researchers to apply those principles to their work,
- and the setting up of the National Statistician’s Data Ethics Advisory Committee to provide independent ethics advice and assurance.
At the time of writing, the ethics self-assessment tool had been used to help researchers on over 400 projects, ensuring that the ethics of their work was properly considered. As awareness of the Authority’s data ethics work has grown, so has the diversity of self-assessment tool users; most recent analysis shows that over half of the users have been researchers and statisticians from outside of government, showing the breadth of the tool’s scope.
Although the increased usage of the self-assessment tool is encouraging, the thinking on data ethics is currently evolving at pace, particularly as new research methods and technologies emerge. The Data Ethics Team’s recent review of the UK’s data ethics landscape, which was published this week, highlights the large volume of innovative work that is happening in the data ethics space from a variety of different organisations.
The review’s findings have prompted the decision to further improve the ethics self-assessment tool so that it continues to be valuable for researchers from across the whole research community.
The first step in development is to gather feedback via a user review questionnaire. The feedback received will be used to inform the future development of the ethics self-assessment tool and a workshop will be held in the summer to discuss proposed changes with users. More information about this event will be announced closer to the time.
The UK Statistics Authority and its Centre for Applied Data Ethics exists to help researchers from across the research community engage with data ethics at the project design phase, and throughout a project’s lifecycle, so that researchers can evidence their consideration of the ethics of their work. The UK Statistics Authority’s self-assessment tool provides an effective applied framework to do this in an efficient and robust manner.
Lily O’Flynn, Data Ethics Service Manager, said,
“The better we can make this tool, the more valuable a role it can play in helping to enable wider and more efficient access to data for research purposes for the public good.
This is a chance to inform potential future iterations of the tool, to make it even easier to apply our ethical principles to your research. We look forward to hearing your feedback and collaborating to develop this tool to its full potential.”
The ethics self-assessment user review questionnaire will be live until 14 April 2021.