Making Quality Visible
Making Quality Visible (MQV) has been a key focus of the ABS since the late 1990s. The main tenet of MQV is that the users of ABS statistics benefit from understanding the quality of those statistics. This allows 'informed use' of the statistics and for the user to judge whether they are suitable for the purpose to which they are being put.
The changing environment, in particular the increased importance of the ABS web site as the main dissemination source of ABS statistics, has introduced new challenges and opportunities to how the ABS can better ensure that end users have relevant and accessible quality information to guide their use of the statistics.
We also hope that ABS work in describing quality effectively in an electronic environment will serve as an example or an inspiration to other agencies and organisations. A key National Data Network (NDN) endorsed principle is that "the quality of the data should be described clearly and understandably". Quality declarations are a method by which this can be done.
Quality Declarations (QDs) are statements on the quality of statistical outputs that have been written specifically for web-based dissemination. They describe the quality of a statistical release using the six dimensions of the ABS data quality framework - relevance, accuracy, timeliness, accessibility, interpretability and coherence. This information is 'layered' so that casual users get a brief 'headline' indication of quality while users who are interested in more detail can easily access it.
The ABS data quality framework closely aligns with international work on data quality. For more information on this framework, please refer to the Statistics Canada publication catalogue number 12-586-X, Statistics Canada's Quality Assurance Framework, which can be downloaded from the Statistics Canada web site at http://www.statcan.ca.
Electronic publication and metadata vision
Quality Declarations are also an important component of the ABS' Vision for Electronic Publication and Metadata. The Vision aims to improve the way the ABS communicates data and metadata electronically to facilitate user discovery of information, assessment of fitness for purpose and understanding of the key stories within the data. The main strategies for achieving the Vision include: using a layered approach for the presentation of information; developing basic guidelines for writing for the web; using the concept of web magazines to ensure that statistical stories are clearly visible; and contextual linking of metadata to statistical products such as publications, time series spreadsheets and data cubes. A prototype for this has been built and is available at
The course Making Quality Informed Decisions is offered by the National Statistical Training Institute (NSTI) to help people effectively use the data quality framework to systematically understand quality issues associated with using data sources. More information can be found on the ABS web site https://www.abs.gov.au under Services We Provide / ABS Training / Statistical Training.
For further information on this work, please contact Bruce Fraser on (02) 6252 7306 or Narrisa Gilbert on (02) 6252 5283.