V3: Clarity and insight

Statistics and data should be presented clearly, explained meaningfully and provide authoritative insights that serve the public good.


V3.1 Statistics, data and explanatory material should be relevant and presented in a clear, unambiguous way that supports and promotes use by all types of users.

V3.2 Statistics should be accompanied by a clear description of the main statistical messages that explains the relevance and meaning of the statistics in a way that is not materially misleading. They should be illustrated by suitable data visualisations, including charts, maps and tables, where this helps aid appropriate interpretation of the statistics.

V3.3 Comparisons that support the appropriate interpretation of the statistics, including within the UK and internationally, should be provided where useful. Users should be signposted to other related statistics and data sources and the extent of consistency and comparability with these sources should be explained to users.

V3.4 Advice should be given about the appropriate use of the statistics and data. The lead statistician or analyst should be visible and approachable to users, be encouraged to explain the statistics publicly and support their use.

V3.5 Statistics producers should collaborate with experts and producers of related statistics and data to provide a comprehensive and coherent narrative for the statistical topic.

Case studies

The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) selected the 2018 winner and first and second runners-up for the Campion Award for Official Statistics. The purpose of the award is to recognise outstanding innovations or developments in official statistics that improve the users’ experience.

  • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) won for The Future Farming and Environment Evidence Compendium published in February 2018. According to the judging panel, Defra showed excellent use of administrative data with a direct impact on policy and communication with users.
  • The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) received plaudits for Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure 2017 (NIMDM2017), the official measure of deprivation in Northern Ireland. Judges thought the Measure brings together complex data and presentation at a very local level in a politically-sensitive context
  • The Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Home Office (HO) were recognised for their 2017 joint article, What’s happening with international student migration. The judging panel thought this piece of work dealt with a sensitive matter of real public interest and that the statistics both informed the debate and corrected a misunderstanding

All three are excellent examples of statistics that are presented clearly and explained meaningfully.

Defra’s compendium brings together data and statistics from a variety of sources and analysis such as statistical outputs, scientific research, operational research and economics. The output is an impressive effort compiling information from a wide array of sources and distilling that information into a digestible, interesting narrative. The compendium, through data and colourful graphics, demonstrates the importance of farm economics, food production, and environmental land management to help the reader understand UK agriculture and its contribution to the economy.

The newly developed NIMDM 2017 analysis package and online interactive maps provide users with robust insights into deprivation. The analysis package, for example, is simple to use, provides examples of what a user can do with the data and encourages interrogation. Users can break down the data by income, employment, health and disability and other deprivation domains that combine to produce the overall multiple deprivation measure. Other Excel spreadsheets are available for different geographies such as Wards and Assembly Areas.

The ONS/HO article is an update on progress towards developing a better understanding of student migration to and from the UK. The article is a major part of ONS’s work plan, in response to debates on student migration. ONS and Home Office statisticians analysed Home Office Exit Checks data to examine what happens to non-EU students when their visas have expired following their studies; whether they leave the UK or remain by extending their visas. Using new data sources to provide a complete and coherent picture of international student outcomes was one of the requirements of our compliance check of ONS’s long-term student migration estimates. The ONS/HO analysis goes some way towards building that picture – it provides insights into a sensitive political issue that attracts intense public and media interest.

The Defra and NISRA outputs provide clarity and insight by presenting relevant statistics and data in a clear and valuable way that enables use by all types of users. The ONS/HO article makes use of alternative data sources and explains the issues to generate insights into an important topic.

Guidance and resources

Practical guidance and other resources about communicating and disseminating official statistics. There is also information about networks and events that you get involved in to help improve the way you communicate statistics.Guidance on communicating statisticsGSS
Guidance on how to use a standard and straightforward way of assessing comparability of their statistics with other parts of the UK. It also allows users to better understand what is comparable so that they can quickly get to the numbers they want.Guidance on comparing official statistics across the UK GSS
Guidance for producers of official statistics who need to design graphs and tables that are clear, consistent, informative and easy to use. It sets out some principles to think about when visualising and presenting statistical data and illustrates them with examples.Guidance on producing effective graphs and tables in official statisticsGSS
Guidance on how to display statistics in spreadsheets and release statistics in open formats.Releasing Statistics in Spreadsheets: Good Practice GuidanceGSS
National Statistician’s guidance on interpreting and implementing the principles and practices of Code which relate to the quality and methodological basis of their official statistics. This document is scheduled for revision in 2018 to reflect version 2.0 of the Code.National Statistician’s Guidance: Quality, Methods, and Harmonisation (2009)GSS
A webpage with links to a series of guidance documents on harmonisation, including what harmonisation is and its aims, the Harmonisation Handbook and the GSS Harmonised Principles.Harmonisation within the GSS webpageGSS
Guidance for statistical output areas across the GSS for best practice in relation to the release of statistical publications. This document is scheduled for revision in 2018 to reflect version 2.0 of the Code.Guidance for the GSS on Preparing First ReleasesGSS
A document setting out the GSS’s ambitions for producing open data. This document is scheduled for revision in 2018 to reflect version 2.0 of the Code.Open Data and the Government Statistical Service (2012)GSS
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) guide on Making Data Meaningful is intended as a practical tool to help managers, statisticians and media relations officers use text, and visualisations to bring statistics to life for non-statisticians. It contains suggestions, guidelines and examples.A UNECE guide to Making Data MeaningfulUNECE


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