1504.0 - Methodological News, Sep 2002  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/11/2002   
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Each year, Analysis Branch holds an offsite conference to reflect on issues that affect the ABS analytical program. At our most recent conference, we focussed on four themes.

Collaborative work. How can we improve the effectiveness of our collaborations with colleagues in the ABS, other government agencies and universities? We discussed various models for collaborative work such as joint projects and cross-postings. During the past year or so, we have enjoyed a wider variety of collaborative work, including analyses of crime, disability, the influence of information technology on business performance, national progress and prices. Our analysis portfolio managers will negotiate more joint projects and cross-postings for 2003.

Quality of analytical work. How can we assure the quality of prototype analytical products and methodological advice? We discussed ways of defining and assessing the quality of analyses. Recently, we have been revamping our interim quality framework for "elaborately transformed statistics" to align with the standard ABS set of six quality attributes -- relevance, coherence, accessibility, interpretability, timeliness and accuracy. We also discussed processes for assuring quality. We rely mainly on peer review by colleagues in the ABS, other agencies and universities to assure the defensibility of our methods and the plausibility of our findings.

Research methods. How can we discover and share good practices for analytical investigations? We discussed ways of doing a literature review, conducting a data census and quality evaluation, selecting an appropriate analytical technique, communicating our findings, and preserving the knowledge gained during a project. As an offshoot of this discussion, we are developing new modules on research methods, quality-informed decisions and analytical writing for the Turning Economic Data into Information course.

Analytical careers. What pathways can be followed by an ABS officer who is interested in a career in socioeconomic analysis? We discussed the variety of "career anchors" that such a person might have -- such as wishing to become an expert in a particular style of analysis or subject field, or wishing to develop portable problem-solving skills. We also discussed the broad experience that an analyst can build by working in a variety of analysis groups, national statistical centres and survey areas. We are developing a document titled "Analytical Skills for ABS Staff" to supplement the landmark document "Statistical Skills for ABS Staff" issued in January 2001. A draft will be available for comment later this year.

For more information, please contact Ken Tallis on (02) 6252 7290.

Email: ken.tallis@abs.gov.au