Fourth meeting of the UK Statistics Authority’s Centre for Applied Data Ethics Independent Advisory Committee.
- Minutes and Matters Arising
- Summary of progress and next steps
- Impact Evaluation of current CADE guidance pieces
- Improvements to the UK Statistics Authority’s Ethics Self-Assessment Tool
- Ethics Guidance Piece: Ethical considerations related to the inclusivity of data for research and statistics
- Any Other Business
- Professor David Hand (Chair)
- Sam Cannicott (Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation)
- Colin Godbold (Independent member)
- Emma Gordon (UKRI ESRC)
- Roger Halliday (Scottish Government)
- Victoria Chenery (deputising for Emma Rourke, Office for National Statistics)
- Professor Donald Simeon (University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago and Royal Statistical Society)
- Tom Smith (Office for National Statistics)
UK Statistics Authority
- Daniel Towler
- Tia-Mae Surtees
- Simon Whitworth
- Sue Bateman (Government Digital Service)
- Reema Patel (Ada Lovelace Institute)
1. Minutes and Matters Arising
- The Chair welcomed the members to the fourth meeting of the UK Statistics Authority’s Centre for Applied Data Ethics Advisory Committee.
- The committee were made aware that the minutes for the previous meeting have now been published on the Centre webpages. This is in line with the CADEAC Terms of Reference.
2. Summary of progress and next steps
- Simon Whitworth presented this item, which summarised the progress made by CADE since its launch in February 2021, and high-level plans for the next year.
- The committee were impressed by the Centre’s significant progress over the last year and welcomed the plans for continuing this over the next year. They were pleased to see the focus on engagement with user communities and areas of research that are often left behind, for example, qualitative research and the emphasis on continual improvement in the services provided.
- Members of the committee emphasised a need to ensure consistency across different ethical frameworks that are used, for example, across Government, academia and the NHS, and emphasised the importance of senior support to promote the ethical frameworks, resources and support that the Centre provide.
- The Centre outlined the international interest for collaboration and how this will be prioritised over the next year. Committee members expressed an interest in the development of the Centre’s international work going forward and were encouraged to get in touch with the Centre for future collaboration.
ACTION: The Centre will explore ways to ensure consistency across ethical frameworks used across the research community and further develop mechanisms to further promote the Centre’s framework,.
ACTION: Committee members are encouraged to get in contact with the Centre team should they have an interest in, or suggestions for, international collaboration in the future.
ACTION: Committee members are encouraged to continue to promote the work that the Centre does, and the UK Statistics Authority’s ethical framework.
3. Impact Evaluation of current CADE guidance pieces.
- Tia-Mae Surtees presented this item, providing the committee with an overview of the progress that the Centre has made in evaluating the impact of the Centre’s guidance pieces that have been published so far.
- The committee commended the Centre’s focus on developing the guidance further from the evaluation findings, as well as identifying what the guidance does well. This work was presented as a pilot study, and the committee encouraged the Centre to continue this work to produce more evidence on what impact it is having.
- In relation to ensuring that the guidance is used by the wider research and statistical community, committee members suggested the use of social media, research councils and other networks to increase awareness of the guidance.
- The committee felt that there is the potential to increase the Centre’s visibility across the Analytical Function and various profession groupings, which was discussed in the last committee meeting. The Centre team has been considering opportunities to increase and assess awareness of the Centre and its ethics services across the Analytical Function and will continue to do so.
ACTION: The Centre will continue to evaluate the impact of all currently published guidance pieces, to ensure that the guidance is valuable to the research community.
ACTION: The Centre will consider new mechanisms and networks to promote the guidance more widely.
4. Improvements to the UK Statistic’s Authority’s Ethics Self-Assessment Tool
- Daniel Towler presented this item. The ethics self-assessment tool is used across the research and statistics community and the framework has over 480 users. The data ethics service team have been working on improving the ethics self-assessment tool, in response to user feedback.
- Overall, the committee welcomed the updates to the self-assessment tool and were impressed by Centre’s focus on continuous improvement and ensuring that changes are tested so they work for the user community.
- The committee were interested in hearing about the value of the self-assessment tool, how researchers use it in practice, and how compliance is ensured. The self-assessment tool encourages researchers to think about the ethical issues relating to their own projects and provides support, should researchers need it. Users are responsible for their own ethics self-assessment form and are trusted to use the tool appropriately.
- Researchers are also encouraged and supported to be iterative in their work and consider the ethical challenges which may arise throughout the research process, while offering support to ensure it is used appropriately and uphold its integrity.
- Members of the committee highlighted that they know of teams using the self-assessment tool in their work and offered to provide additional feedback on the updates.
ACTION: The Centre will follow up with offers to test and provide further feedback on the updated ethics self-assessment tool.
5. Ethics Guidance Piece: Ethical considerations related to the inclusivity of data for research and statistics
- Tia-Mae Surtees presented this item, which invites feedback on the draft ethics guidance produced by the UKSA Centre for Applied Data Ethics.
- The guidance focuses on the ethical considerations related to the inclusivity of data and has been developed in response to the work of the UKSA Inclusive Data Taskforce.
- The committee highlighted that the guidance is extremely comprehensive and liked how the focus on inclusivity goes beyond the protected characteristics under the Equalities Act 2010.
- A suggestion was made by committee members that examples and case studies could be used to improve the document. It was felt that it whilst the guidance focuses on what researchers should do, it could also be beneficial to include examples of what they should not This may help researchers better understand the ideas presented in the guidance.
- Members of the committee suggested that the guidance could cover the importance of inclusivity of advisory boards, and the linkage and triangulation of data to assess the inclusivity of datasets and increase representation.
ACTION: The Centre will consider the points raised relating to the inclusivity guidance and will update the draft to reflect this.
6. Any Other Business
- The next meeting of the Centre for Applied Data Ethics Advisory Committee will be held on the 4th May 2022.