1504.0 - Methodological News, Mar 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/11/2001   
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EMERGING AREAS OF ANALYTICAL EXPERTISE

As well as maintaining our traditional skills, Analysis Branch must acquire expertise in new methods - both methods that have recently emerged in the literature and some not-so-recent methods that we have not before applied to ABS work.

Thinking about our needs for new expertise has been prompted by several developments:

  • increasingly sophisticated demands from our clients (and concerns about ensuring that our work is professionally defensible);
  • changes to the kinds of data we are analysing (including by-products of administrative or business processes);
  • rethinking some aspects of statistical quality (and ensuring that the quality and other characteristics of analytical products are visible to users); and
  • changes to the kinds of work our ABS colleagues are undertaking and the kinds of skills they wish to acquire (in line with Statistical Skills of ABS Staff and other key documents).

The areas in which we might acquire expertise are very diverse. Some possibilities include new methods for:
  • producing estimates for small domains (e.g. small geographical areas, subpopulations or subindustries);
  • taking account of complex survey designs (clustering, multistage selection and the like);
  • taking account of the multilevel character of some socioeconomic phenomena (e.g. individual, group and area influences on crime)
  • modelling with large, dirty, melded datasets; and
  • doing longitudinal and dynamic analyses on datasets that have not been collected through a truly longitudinal survey.

Our prime criterion for choosing which areas we shall invest in is "How broadly can a new method be applied to core ABS concerns and how large a benefit might the method deliver?"

We are also thinking about how we can gather and spread intelligence about emerging methods. One scheme we are experimenting with is to appoint "gatekeepers" whose role is to trawl the literature in a given field, (see article on Developing and Managing Expertise).

For more information about emerging areas of analysis, please contact Ken Tallis on (02) 6252 7290.

Email: ken.tallis@abs.gov.au