Statistics User Forum

last person joined: 16 days ago 

The Statistics User Forum (SUF), supported by the Office for National Statistics, aims to be the strategic voice of users of official statistics. The Forum acts as an umbrella organisation for user groups, each of which covers a particular area across the spectrum of official statistics. Through the Forum we enable open and constructive dialogue between users and producers of official statistics and encourage communication across the user community.

Your views on compendium publications, please!

  • 1.  Your views on compendium publications, please!

    Posted 12 days ago
    Dear SUF members and colleagues,

    This posting has two purposes - to gather input by 7th June, please:

    > to the current DWP consultation on plans to discontinue the annual abstract of statistics on benefits and indices of prices and earnings full details here. Apologies to members of the RPI/CPI community on SUN, who will have already seen that Arthur Barnett is collecting views on this in order to prepare a response. This posting is to alert other members of SUF with an interest in this publication and to encourage you to share your thoughts with Arthur.

    > Second, to seek you views and experiences more generally on compendium publications, as this annual abstract is the latest of many such publications that have been discontinued.

    I think what we've learned from the disappearance of other compendium publications includes that:

    - producers/editors of compendium publications are generally not aware of who their audience is, so that decision about their future are invariably made in the absence of knowledge about the user base and what their needs are. Any profile of users gained purely from those who respond to a consultation when closure is already planned is bound to be incomplete and no substitute from maintaining a open relationship with all existing users as well as seeking new users;

    - anecdotal evidence suggests that users of compendium publications include some who are less regular, perhaps even one-off users, or people browsing for information, using it for educational projects, etc. While this adds some challenges to the idea of maintaining a relationship with users, these are not insurmountable. Many other organisations are faced with a similar user base;

    - reaching the audience and potential audience for compendium publications is difficult, but still needs to be done, not least to raise the profile of the publication, as well as for steering the future direction of the publication;

    - compendium publications also have a broader value as ways of alerting users and potential users to official statistics. These publications, handled well by their producers, can become flagships of official statistics;

    - and in this digital age, maintaining a compendium publication on a website should not be burdensome (and so closing one will not generate significant savings).

    Please let me have any further thoughts about compendium publications, also by 7th June. As well as responding to DWP, we can use the 21st June SUF meeting as one way of engaging with ONS and other producers of compendium publications.



    Paul Allin
    Chair, Statistics User Forum
    Visiting Professor
    Department of Mathematics
    Imperial College London