Managing the quality brand of statistics how to deal with revisions and publication errors
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Managing the quality brand of statistics: How to deal with revisions and publication errors?. The European Conference on Quality in Official Statistics Rome, 9 July 2008 Heli Mikkelä. The Quality Brand of Official Statistics in Finland - examples.

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Managing the quality brand of statistics: How to deal with revisions and publication errors?

The European Conference on Quality in Official Statistics

Rome, 9 July 2008

Heli Mikkelä


  • The Quality Brand of Official Statistics in Finland - examples

Information Services


Reliability of information produced by Statistics Finland

Source: Public image survey of Statistics Finland 2007, Taloustutkimus Oy

Information Services


% of respondents

Objectivity of information produced by Statistics Finland

Source: Public image survey of Statistics Finland 2007, Taloustutkimus Oy

Information Services


  • How to maintain and support the ”quality label” and trust?An example: situations when once published data change

Information Services


Eventual situations of change

  • 1. Revisions due to a natural cause in the life cycle of a set of statistics, e.g.,

    • Accrual of incoming data (preliminary results/final results)

    • Methodological or system change

    • Change in data collection method (e.g., shifting to register-based production)

  • 2. Error situations, and other exceptional situations, e.g.

    • Error is discovered in published data

    • Error in timing (delay, etc.)

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Management of revisions to and publication errors in statistical data at Statistics Finland

  • Guidelines on communication practices confirmed in 2007

    • Include principles, outlines and practical guidelines

  • Preparation of the guidelines

    • A working group comprised of experts from the fields of statistics production, dissemination, quality management and communications

    • International and national recommendations, guidelines and best practices widely reviewed during the preparation

    • Communicative process within the organisation

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Revisions to and publication errors in statistical data, cont.

  • Cover

    • Revisions (normal life-cycle of statistics)

    • Errors (exceptional situations)

  • Emphasis on

    • Advance preparation

    • Immediate reaction

    • Documentation

    • Informing and communication, openness

  • Available on the intranet, updated and revised as necessary

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Main principles for all situations

  • Advance preparation

    • For forthcoming - planned and expected - revisions

    • For unexpected and unplanned error situations

    • Identification of stakeholders of each set of statistics

    • Familiarisation with guidelines and principles

  • Good process and quality management emphasised in order to avoid errors and other undesired situations

  • Acknowledgement of the recommendations and principles for official statistics

…cont.

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…. main principles cont.

  • Internal co-operation and co-ordination essential (statisticians, communication professionals, etc.)

  • Immediate – but nonetheless well managed - reaction crucial

  • Thorough documentation forms the basis for process management and further development of practices

  • Communication with data users and other stakeholders in all stages of the process is of utmost importance

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1. Revisions to published data

  • Continuous revising of data

    • Aim: to increase general understanding of the evolving nature of statistical information

    • All releases must contain notification and explanation of

      • Preliminary nature of figures

      • Time and reason for updating

      • Reason for changes from previous release

    • Quality descriptions and methodological descriptions must be informative, up-to-date, usable and easily available

…cont.

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…..1. Revisions to published data cont.

Normaalit… 2/2

  • Major revisions to statistical systems, e.g., system revisions and methodological changes

    • Aims:

      • To increase understanding about the causes and effects of the revision

      • Enable stakeholders to prepare for the changes

    • Role of co-operation and communication with stakeholders is crucial

      • Systematic pre- and post communication

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2. Errors and other exceptional situations

  • Guidelines cover

    • Errors in contents, timing or interpretation

    • the Internet, printed publications, databases, etc.

  • Diverse error and exceptional situations can be identified, e.g.

    • Content error: published data are not correct

    • Timing error

    • ”Technical error”, flaws (no actual error in data)

    • Other exceptional situations: data updated in wrong place, other parties release information produced by Statistics Finland incorrectly, etc.

  • Detailed instructions provided for specific cases

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An example: content errors

  • Main principle: erroneous data must be removed immediately

  • If they cannot be replaced with correct data, a new release date must be given

  • Correction must be clearly marked on the document; recommendations about actual notification and marking are given separately to various channels and media

  • Public must be informed about the changes as they were informed about the original data

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Continuous monitoring

  • The irregularities in timing as well as corrections made are monitored regularly and analysed for process management purposes

  • E.g., errors in contents

    • 2007 total of 37 corrections made, of these

      • 32 actual changes in contents

      • 12 made on the day of publishing

      • 5 minor technical changes

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Benefits and gains

  • Process, quality and risk management

  • Practices and enhancement of communication about statistics, metadata and quality of statistics

  • Promotion of the quality brand of official statistics by

    • Increasing the openness and transparency of statistical processes

    • Strengthening of trust in official statistics

  • General understanding of the nature of statistical production and information

  • Support for statistical literacy

  • Strengthening of relationships with stakeholders

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Further activities and challenges

  • Continuous improvement of recommendations and guidelines

  • Promotion of knowledge about recommendations internally and externally

  • Utilisation of gained experiences in process and quality development

  • Improvement and development of metadata components of statistical information and communication

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% of respondents

Do ordinary people receive enough information about the meaning of statistical information?

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  • Thank you!Heli MikkeläDirector, Information ServicesStatistics Finlandemail: [email protected] +358 9 1734 3200, gsm +358 50 568 7444www.stat.fi

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