Part 5: Five stuff you did not find out about…

As a part of Analysis in Government month, that is the ultimate version in our collection of ‘Five things you didn’t find out about…’ weblog posts. Analysis in authorities is getting used greater than ever in coverage, resolution making and the media, this collection of weblog posts will share, showcase and rejoice the huge number of professions and work throughout the Analysis Function.

Jump to certainly one of our posts:

  1. Five things you didn’t know about user engagement
  2. Five things you didn’t know about cognitive interviewing
  3. Five things you didn’t know about data science
  4. Five things you didn’t know about the work of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  5. Five things you didn’t know about behavioural science

Five stuff you didn’t find out about consumer engagement

By Tegwen Green (left) and Nancy Singh (proper), Office for National Statistics

For the final fifteen months Nancy and I’ve been working with customers and producers of statistics to develop a user engagement strategy for statistics.

The technique units out a plan of motion for constructing a extra significant and sustained dialogue between producers, customers and potential customers of statistics. Its ideas are extensively related to anybody conducting evaluation throughout completely different professions.

We wish to unfold the phrase in regards to the worth of consumer engagement, within the midst of a pandemic, greater than ever. We’ve highlighted 5 necessary issues we would like you to recollect about consumer engagement. You may know a few of them already – in that case, then maybe share them along with your colleagues as effectively!

1. You’re doing lots of consumer engagement already

We simply wish to remind you all that each time you ask an opinion or have a casual chat about your work, you’re partaking with a consumer or potential consumer of your evaluation.

Let’s get higher at recognising and acknowledging the nice behaviours and actions that we already show. Let’s construct on these to create much more alternatives to develop common, ongoing, two-way dialogue with a wider vary of individuals.

Engagement is rewarding and it may be something from an electronic mail trade to a full-blown session train. If you’ve an engagement success story to share electronic mail so we might help showcase your expertise and encourage others to observe your lead.

2. One measurement doesn’t match all

This could seem apparent, however we actually do have to tailor our engagement actions to go well with the supposed viewers, a lot as we might do with every other kind of communication. We have such an enormous vary of customers and potential customers of our services and products, and we in all probability don’t even know who all of them are.

This is the place methods reminiscent of viewers segmentation and using user personas might help us categorise and achieve perception into what customers of our statistics need and wish from us. Through this understanding we will tailor our communications and our statistics to make sure that as many customers as doable are conscious of our statistics and interact with them and us.

3. No one does it completely

User engagement tends to be simplest when it has a number of strands and when your engagement occurs as a part of your organisation’s wider engagement actions.

We don’t want just a few folks doing consumer engagement completely, we simply want plenty of folks attempting their greatest to do it effectively and dealing collectively to make it occur as a part of enterprise as ordinary.

Let’s be taught from one another’s’ experiences and share all of the ‘good stuff’. Why not check out these success stories and inform us in regards to the successes you’ve had partaking with customers, so we will showcase these, to encourage and assist others.

4. Help is at hand

You’re not alone – as ever, your colleagues throughout authorities are right here to assist you in your endeavours. For instance, you’ll be able to:

  • hyperlink up with the cross-government user engagement champions – a vibrant and enthusiastic community of consumer engagement fanatics
  • determine your engagement challenges for the brand new User Support and Engagement Resource (USER) hub to assist deal with, or ask for sensible recommendation from the Good Practice Team
  • publish a question on the government-wide User Engagement Slack channel
  • attain out to your organisation’s stakeholder engagement or communications groups to determine new contacts and discover new channels of engagement

5. We have a imaginative and prescient for the way forward for consumer engagement

Nancy and I launched the brand new four-year user engagement strategy for statistics on 22 February 2021. The technique has:

  • a radical imaginative and prescient – for consumer engagement to be second nature and constructed into our organisations’ wider actions
  • three formidable objectives, the ‘3Cs’ – centred round facilitating collaboration, constructing functionality and inspiring a tradition change

Five stuff you didn’t find out about cognitive interviewing

By Meg Pryor, Office for National Statistics

Cognitive interviewing is a technique which is used to see how people course of and reply to survey questions, permitting us to analyze what the respondent is considering after they’re answering our surveys. I’ve been doing cognitive interviewing for 3 years, so this weblog relies across the issues I’ve realized whereas doing so, which I didn’t know earlier than! As a notice, the cognitive interviewing I’m going to debate right here just isn’t the identical as cognitive interviewing that occurs in police settings.

1. This is common apply inside query and questionnaire design

Before beginning on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) I didn’t know that cognitive interviewing was a course of inside questionnaire and survey design – in truth I had not heard of it in any respect from my time in academia!
Since becoming a member of, I now know that it’s an integral a part of constructing and designing a survey and permits us as researchers to see whether or not or not a query is obvious for a respondent. It permits us to determine if there are any dangers to the info high quality as a result of respondents might interpret the query to imply one thing completely different than what the query designer supposed. This may are available in a wide range of types:

  • Respondents might reply the query incorrectly as a result of they don’t perceive a time period.
  • Respondents could also be misremembering an occasion or the frequency of occasions.
  • Respondents could also be deciding to estimate fairly than calculate solutions.
  • Respondents might say one thing they really feel is unfaithful as a result of it makes them ‘look better’, particularly in interviewer-led modes.
  • Respondents might get annoyed and cease finishing the survey solely (whether it is voluntary).

Conducting cognitive interviews permits us to raised perceive the info we’re amassing and helps to determine these dangers early. It due to this fact permits us to consider what we will do to mitigate these dangers and make the answering course of simpler for respondents. This may very well be redesigning the query if doable or incorporating steering.

2. It may be achieved remotely

We’re a yr on from the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and it has meant we’ve got needed to change the methods during which we work. This has included analysis. While beforehand I had carried out cognitive interviews face-to-face, this was not doable. But that doesn’t imply that cognitive interviewing can’t go forward, it simply has to go forward slightly otherwise.

I lately co-authored a weblog publish on the GSS web site speaking about remote testing in practice, and the way we skilled it. For cognitive interviewing particularly, key factors could be to have classes final not more than 60 minutes versus 60-90 minutes as remotely it’s tougher to maintain your individuals focus. Also, to rigorously take into consideration what software program and expertise not solely you’ve entry to, but additionally what the participant has entry to. Lastly, as with face-to-face, take into consideration the ethics! Use the Government Social Research (GSR) Professional Guidance to assist with this.

All in all, don’t be postpone cognitive interviewing due to the pandemic. Doing it remotely has many advantages! There can be guidance on the GSS website that can assist you get began.

3. It may be emotive

As I alluded to, ethics are essential to contemplate, and particularly so when cognitive interviewing. I’ve had interviews the place the particular person I’m talking to has began to cry and has gotten upset and due to this fact I ended the session and supplied aftercare. It’s necessary to do not forget that survey questions nonetheless have the potential to be emotive if they’re delicate, even when at first they don’t seem so.

Cognitive interviewing can present the sensitivities of questions which we might not have been conscious. For instance if you happen to’re asking a query on family spending, the respondent might have simply misplaced their job so all the time be conscious. With this in thoughts, the UK Statistics Authority has an excellent Ethics Self-Assessment Tool which you should utilize to determine moral dangers earlier than the analysis classes.

However, to cite the Government Digital Service’s precept ‘you are not your user’ so due to this fact you may not realise the emotional affect a query may need till you’re within the analysis session. Therefore, I additionally advocate placing collectively a plan in place for if a participant turns into distressed within the session.

4. Get the participant to ‘think aloud’

How can we anticipate finding out the cognitive processes a participant goes by means of and not using a machine hooked as much as their brains? Getting them to undergo the method of pondering aloud.

This is usually a bizarre idea for individuals to know. We basically need them to inform us what they’re pondering after they’re offered with the query, and the processes they undergo to determine their reply. That is less complicated mentioned than achieved, and is one thing that generally doesn’t come straightforward to individuals.

One method to assist them perceive ‘thinking aloud’ is to offer them an instance of what you imply. An instance I usually use is:

‘If you asked me how many windows were in the room I’m sitting in, I may say two and that might be my reply. But if I had been to assume aloud, I’d say I’ve a window subsequent to my TV, after which a bay window subsequent to me. I don’t know if a bay window counts as a number of home windows, as a result of it has a number of sections, however to me it’s only one window, due to this fact I’ve two home windows.’

After offering that instance, I then ask the participant to strive giving it a go themselves, in order that they have a greater concept, and I can clarify it additional if they need additional info.

It’s usually by means of this technique that you just get golden quotes that basically present you what’s going by means of their minds when answering your questions.

5. Silence is your buddy!

Now whereas we would like the individuals to be as loud as doable, it’s extremely necessary for us as researchers to utilise silence, as it’s your greatest buddy whereas cognitive interviewing. As the saying goes, much less is extra! It permits the individuals to maintain speaking and to maintain offering you with wealthy, high quality information into why they’ve answered the query in that method.

However, one thing which I’ve learnt by means of conducting distant testing particularly is that when you wish to give the participant room to speak, if you happen to’re quiet for too lengthy they might assume your web connection has gone! So as an alternative, from time to time make a ‘hmm’ noise in order that they know the expertise isn’t taking part in up.

In conclusion, I hope this has proven you some points to cognitive interviewing that you could be not have recognized beforehand. If you’re beginning work on a survey, or eager to design questions, I can not advocate sufficient conducting these classes for yourselves and you will discover courses available on the GSS website.

Five stuff you didn’t find out about information science

By Hillary Juma, Jonathon Mellor, Lewis Edwards, Ali Cass from Data Science Campus, Office for National Statistics and Emma Walker from Centre for Applied Data Ethics, UK Statistics Authority (UKSA)

Data Science is informing coverage, digital merchandise, and operational choices throughout the Public Sector. Data Science is the apply of bringing collectively mathematical data, area data (reminiscent of environmental coverage) and pc science to offer analytical or operational perception. See The Data Science Venn Diagram.

In this weblog we dispel myths round information science.

1. Demystifying information science

Data Scientists produce algorithms; a algorithm for fixing an issue in a finite variety of steps. Data Scientists work intently, with information engineers, information architects and product managers, to ship enterprise related insights. An instance information science venture is using machine studying to predict energy efficiency from power efficiency certificates information.

Data Science is similar and variations to Artificial Intelligence (AI), for instance the similarities embody using algorithms and machine studying. Machine studying is the method of utilizing of algorithms that generate predictive or explanatory fashions based mostly on patterns or constructions in information. The distinction is that AI is the idea and improvement of pc methods in a position to carry out duties usually requiring human intelligence. For instance, Siri or Alexa performing process in response to a vocal request.

2. Learning Data Science

Thankfully, a level in information science just isn’t a requirement to be a knowledge scientist, nor ought to it’s! Thanks to the open-source group spirit and coaching on supply from the civil service, the routes into and for advancing within the discipline are immense.

There is nobody proper strategy to be taught information science: check out a brand new approach at work, a coaching course right here, a private venture there, a weblog learn with a cup of tea or a podcast when you go for a stroll. All are worthwhile to develop your data of programming, statistics, and AI.
You can discover an abundance of open entry books, tutorials, and welcoming communities on-line and in particular person (for instance the Government Data Science Slack channel). Within authorities there are much more communities and meetups, together with coaching materials accessible created for these working in authorities (such because the Analysis Function curriculum) and mentoring alternatives such because the Data Science Accelerator.

To misquote a well-known phrase: “The journey of a thousand data science techniques begins with a single article,” beginning is the toughest half.

3. Data Ethics is extra than simply assessing for “Bias in, Bias Out”

When it involves utilizing information science in our work, the chances and potential functions can appear limitless! However, it is important that we rigorously think about not solely what we will do with these methods, but additionally what we must always do.

Data ethics is a rising discipline and there’s an growing quantity of information and resources associated to moral issues in machine studying and AI. These embody points associated to transparency in methods, approaches, and datasets, issues of consent and privateness in relation to using information, accountability, and human oversight, and understanding the constraints of strategies used, together with the potential for biases in datasets and approaches that will result in teams being underrepresented or discriminated towards in a roundabout way.

In sum, desirous about ethics in information science is essential and that is mirrored within the current launch of the UK Statistics Authority’s Centre for Applied Data Ethics, which goals to additional assist researchers and statisticians deal with moral issues of their work.

4. It is greater than code

  • Art of knowledge science is exploring the issue after which conveying insights
  • Coding is the a part of the journey, however the vacation spot is knowing
  • Know your viewers

Whilst the day-to-day work of a knowledge scientist might seem to be a scene from the Matrix with traces of code throughout a number of screens, that is solely a part of the journey.

The most respected contributions that information scientists could make to a staff, enterprise or division are sharing the deep insights from behind the info’s silicon curtain. Developing this worth will contain the applying of varied methods and expertise, such because the machine studying approaches talked about already.

But the time to shine is if you current and discuss by means of what you’ve came upon in regards to the information; whether or not confirming untested assumptions which have been held true in regards to the information by common customers (a quite common expertise) or revealing sudden traits about how sure variables relate to others.

Often summarised within the type of dazzling visualisations or interactive dashboards, the chance to current these to the remainder of your group and discover the true worth of any information supply collectively is a rewarding expertise. It additionally an opportunity to encourage curiosity within the information from as-yet unconvinced colleagues (family and friends too, if you’re prepared to likelihood it) and different unexplored choices.

Whether it’s a private venture or half of a giant programme of labor, the function of a knowledge scientist lies in understanding the duty at hand, digging into the info along with your favorite information inspection instruments after which setting out a string of achievable objectives in the direction of what may (with an allowance for pragmatism) change into a fully-fledged analytical pipeline replete with cutting-edge methods.

5. There are not any unicorns

Since information science is a mixture of a number of skillsets utilized in a mess of the way, the trail to changing into a knowledge scientist is usually a very particular person journey.

Unlike a extra conventional profession path the place one may change into an professional of their discipline by following a structured route, there are not any unicorns in information science – no consultants in all components!

Instead, you’ll discover achieved information scientists with experience skewing in the direction of a variety of areas within the Venn diagram above. This is likely to be extra on the software program engineering facet of issues with tasks together with constructing information science architectures and workflows, or the area experience facet making use of modern expertise to unravel issues associated to local weather change and the atmosphere.

If you had been to ask a knowledge science staff how they every acquired to the place they’re you’ll hear all types of journeys. And that’s nice! It speaks to the range of the info science skillset and functions and having a staff that capitalises on this can be a nice place to be in when tackling novel issues.


Over the years, there was a rising understanding of the worth of knowledge and the kinds of method it may be realised. Whilst the proportion of senior leaders that wanted encouragement to prioritise exploration of their information in modern methods has decreased, the expansion in urge for food to utilize extra information and discover extra advanced methods has been exponential.

If you want to be taught extra about Data Science within the Public sector, be happy to take a look at the next sources:

Open to all:

Open to UK Public Sector Employees solely, entry with work deal with:

Five stuff you didn’t know in regards to the work of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

By Alison Park Interim Executive Chair of ESRC

In this weblog publish, Interim Executive Chair of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Alison Park, describes 5 stuff you didn’t know in regards to the work of ESRC.

ESRC was established over fifty-five years in the past to assist inform coverage and business. We are actually one of many 9 councils that make up UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) the place we work to attain UKRI’s mission to ‘connect discovery to prosperity and public good.’ Here are 5 stuff you may not find out about ESRC.

1. The breadth of our analysis and information investments

Work we fund improves our understanding of how we expect, really feel and behave, of our psychological well being, schooling, work and household lives. Our researchers think about how organisations are managed, how states are ruled, and the best way to obtain a good and sustainable financial system. This proof informs resolution making and environment friendly public service supply.

Examples embody:

  • The Productivity Institute — a brand new funding which can present a deep understanding of what people, corporations, areas and nationwide coverage can do to enhance productiveness.
  • ADR UK — a partnership of presidency and educational teams working with Whitehall departments and devolved administrations to create linked analysis datasets from administrative sources masking areas from schooling and well being to crime and justice. Read extra about ADR UK’s impact.
  • An array of nationwide research together with Understanding Society, the world’s largest longitudinal family panel research, which offers important proof about change and stability over time throughout almost each component of individuals’s lives.
  • Policy dealing with analysis on folks’s behaviour and local weather change by means of The Centre for Climate and Social Transformation (CAST) and Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN).

2. The relevance of our work to authorities priorities

Many of you may be conscious of the Areas of Research Interest (ARIs). Less well-known is that almost two-thirds of all ARIs may be addressed primarily with insights from the social and behavioural sciences, because the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has pointed out.

More particularly, simply as authorities priorities are actually very centered on points such because the pathway to web zero, levelling up and expertise, so too are our plans.

As effectively as additional analysis on local weather change adaption and mitigation, we’re planning place-based analysis investments that can present a greater understanding of the completely different challenges dealing with completely different areas and cities, in addition to scoping work to construct a high-quality proof base on expertise to enhance coverage and apply throughout all financial sectors.

We are wanting ahead to persevering with to have interaction with authorities in refining our pondering in these and different areas.

3. Our dedication to connecting analysis and coverage

Our purpose is to raised join analysis functionality with coverage challenges. We’ve lately been specializing in how we will catalyse deeper and enduring connectivity throughout the research-policy system. Our imaginative and prescient is to understand the potential of analysis to tell and form public coverage in any respect ranges.

We are at the moment exploring a variety of actions, together with:

To flesh out these actions we can be speaking to authorities stakeholders and departments to know their pursuits.

4. Our new folks trade and fellowship framework

An fast precedence is to develop a folks trade and fellowship framework which creates alternatives for researchers to spend time within the coronary heart of coverage organisations and for these in authorities to achieve expertise in analysis organisations.

Over the following yr we’ll take a look at and develop this framework, in addition to pilot data science fellowships with No.10, initially specializing in levelling up, web zero and coronavirus (COVID-19) restoration.

5. The scale of our COVID-19 analysis

ESRC has slightly below 200 grants in our COVID-19 portfolio, that are producing unparalleled insights into the impacts of the pandemic and can assist the continued nationwide response and restoration efforts. We engaged with CSAs and devolved administrations to match proposals with coverage priorities and are actually extending this engagement with different coverage stakeholders.

Do preserve an eye fixed out for a collection of ‘actionable insights seminars’ that we’re creating in partnership with authorities analytical networks. These will deal with thematic areas of relevance to key authorities precedence areas.
I hope this weblog has given you a quick impression of a few of ESRC’s priorities and a way of how we encourage shut connections between analysis we fund and coverage priorities. To preserve updated with our work please observe us on Twitter and go to our website.

Five stuff you didn’t find out about behavioural science within the Department for Work and Pensions

By Alexandra Urdea, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

I’m a social researcher and member of DWP’s Behavioural Science staff. I’ve a PhD in anthropology and at the moment work on a cross-departmental venture to assist extra casual carers stay in work.

Like quite a lot of different authorities departments, DWP has its personal behavioural science perform tailor-made particularly to the wants of the division during which it sits. As a staff we work throughout a variety of coverage areas, from incapacity advantages to labour market interventions, alongside extra internal-facing challenges like organisational transformation and folks efficiency insurance policies.

It could be presumptuous for us to talk for different groups on this rising discipline, which continues to alter as wants and approaches evolve. But for now, and for DWP, listed here are 5 stuff you in all probability didn’t find out about behavioural science.

1. Our practices are distinct from Behavioural Insights

Behavioural science is commonly seen as synonymous with Behavioural Insights (BI). BI includes discovering low price methods of nudging folks’s behaviours – normally by means of communications – with the effectiveness of nudges measured utilizing randomised management trials (RCTs). But behavioural science is an umbrella time period that covers a variety of various approaches to fixing issues involving human behaviour. DWP Behavioural Science was designed in 2015 to enhance, fairly than duplicate, an analytical perform with in depth experience in trialling interventions. Our staff takes a extra upstream focus, supporting colleagues to design user-centred, behaviourally knowledgeable insurance policies and companies from the outset.

2. We assist colleagues to know and diagnose issues

Many of the issues we work on in DWP – like tackling long-term unemployment and designing an efficient advantages system – are extremely advanced. They contain a variety of various ‘actors’, together with coverage colleagues, work coaches in Job Centres, GPs and employers in addition to profit claimants. Often the Department is asking these actors to carry out sophisticated collection of behaviours so as to obtain a coverage aim. We work with colleagues to translate their objectives into concrete behaviours in order that we will discover how reasonable they’re, after which systematically map the obstacles at the moment stopping folks from doing them (COM-B is certainly one of our favorite instruments for this). It’s solely as soon as we’ve achieved this that we begin co-designing options to handle these obstacles.

3. We’re enthusiastic about methods and context

All human behaviour occurs within the context of social constructions and methods. These embody extra nebulous issues like cultural norms – for instance round who ought to look after aged relations in a household – in addition to extra tangible issues like authorized employment rights. These constructions and methods allow sure actions and decisions while constraining or stopping others. Understanding the context during which behaviours are going down is significant if we wish to perceive why folks do the issues they do, and what may assist them behave otherwise. It additionally helps us assume by means of the danger that proposed interventions in a single a part of a system could have unintended penalties in one other half.

4. We’re not all psychologists!

Psychologists, reminiscent of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, are the social scientists most frequently related to the rising discipline of behavioural science. Their concepts and findings confirmed the suspicions of economist Richard Thaler that individuals usually don’t act in the way in which conventional financial concept would recommend. This is why, Thaler thinks, completely different social sciences that may assist perceive human behaviour ought to have a stronger voice in policymaking. We have very a lot taken this message to coronary heart. In our staff we’ve got psychologists, but additionally anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers, operational researchers and coverage professionals (to call however just a few)! This trans-disciplinary strategy means we will generate a far richer and multi-faceted understanding of human behaviour – and due to this fact extra modern and efficient options – than any single self-discipline may obtain.

5. We are methodological magpies

Some behavioural science groups specialize in quantitative insights and affect analysis. Others can draw on well-established literatures in regards to the drivers of explicit behaviours. Given the character of what we do in DWP we discover qualitative strategies particularly useful for unpacking the context inside which behaviour happens, and for creating and testing behavioural hypotheses. We usually draw on ethnographic, co-productive and different artistic strategies. We additionally use instruments from the digital and consumer centred design (UCD) professions to assist us take into consideration consumer wants and answer design. Our toolkit is consistently rising and evolving to assist us higher deal with the issues we’re confronted with and we don’t see this altering any time quickly!


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