The months since our last newsletter have been busy, with the Centre team working on several new and exciting activities and outputs. Read on for an overview of what the team have been working on since our last update in May.

Qualitative Guidance

A new piece of guidance on the ethical considerations associated with qualitative research methods was published on our website in May. This high-level guidance was developed in collaboration with the ONS Data Quality Hub. It aims to support researchers navigating the ethical issues surrounding qualitative research projects (particularly in relation to primary data collection) and brings together existing literature on qualitative research methods and the associated ethical concerns.

Data Ethics Services

The National Statisticians Data Ethics Advisory Committee (NSDEC) met at the beginning of July to discuss a number of projects, including The Longitudinal Study, The Census Data Asset, and qualitative research related to redesigning the Crime Survey for England and Wales. The committee also commented on three presentations, including an overview of the 2023 Recommendation, the Survey Strategy, and Harmonisation. The minute for this meeting will be published on the UK Statistics Authority website soon! The committee are also expecting to review several new projects via correspondence in the coming months, allowing researchers to receive timely, independent support and advice on their projects throughout the year.

So far this year, the Centre team have received and reviewed more than 150 self-assessments, surpassing the total for the same period last year. The rise in self-assessments coming through the Centre has not however impacted on turn-around times, with researchers receiving feedback on their completed self-assessments in 2.5 days on average. Following the implementation of the revised self-assessment tool in March, the UK Data Service has recently published a blog on its launch, further outlining why the tool is important, and how it can be used to practically apply ethics to our work.

International Work

The Centre continues to lead on the production of a UNECE in-depth review on data ethics, alongside Stats Canada. In June, we attended the European Conference on Quality in Official Statistics in Vilnius to participate in discussions on data ethics and in the same month, we were invited to speak at a UN Economic Commission for Africa webinar on “experience sharing on the modernization and use of administrative data and records for statistical purposes”. It is becoming more and more clear that data ethics is becoming a hot topic in the international statistical space!

Engagement Activities

Alongside the international work discussed above, the Centre has also been busy engaging with the general data ethics community. In May, we presented at the GSR in ONS conference, raising the visibility of the work that the Centre does, and how researchers can think more ethically. We have also guest lectured at the University of Plymouth, on ethical issues associated with Big Data and Data Mining, and more recently, we held an ONS-based workshop on our newly produced qualitative guidance. A full list of presentations can be found on the Publications and Presentations section of our website.

The team has a busy conference schedule ahead, including presentations at the Royal Statistical Society conference, and the International Population Data Linkage Network Conference, both being held in September. We hope to see you there!