Royal Statistical Society
Highlands Local Group

Local organising Committee


Graeme MacLennan (Chair)
Health Services Research Unit
Aberdeen AB25 2ZD
Dr Lorna Aucott (Hon Secretary)
Polwarth Building,
Aberdeen AB25 2ZD 
Phone: +44 (0) 1224 553809 Phone: +44 (0) 1224 876544  

Next meeting:

Date: Friday 13th October; 4pm (refreshments as usual from 3.30)

Venue: UoA, Forresterhill Polwarth Building room 1.029

Speaker: Rebecca Walwyn, Principal Statistician, Clinical Trials Research Unit, Leeds Institute of Clinical Trial Research, University of Leeds. Rebecca has expertise in the design and analysis of complex intervention trials.

Title: Beyond standard factorial designs: Building on design of experiments methodology for clinical trials of complex interventions.

Abstract: Complex healthcare interventions, such as psychotherapy and surgery, are often defined as interventions that contain several potentially interacting components. Collins and colleagues have proposed that factorial trial designs are used to estimate the individual and combined effects of components of complex interventions. Fisher claimed that one of the benefits of a factorial design is it’s ‘wider inductive basis’, enabling factors to be studied under a variety of conditions. A potential barrier to the uptake of Collins’ proposal is the recommendation that factorial designs are only used in clinical trials when it is safe to assume that there will be no interactions or when the trial is powered to detect realistic interactions. Collins went on to propose a multiphase optimisation strategy (MOST), following design of experiments (DoE) literature from the 1970s and 80s. Optimisation of the intervention package is carried out in two phases: screening and refinement; optimisation follows theoretical development and requires confirmation. Building on Collins’ MOST, I will outline a refined research strategy for developing and evaluating novel and widely adopted complex interventions. I will then illustrate how the four features of intervention complexity highlighted by the MRC could be systematically mapped onto generic experimental designs, each of which can be viewed as a specific extension of a standard factorial design. I will then focus on what I term multilevel and cascading interventions.

There will be a RSS joint Highland Local Group and Environmental Statistics Section meeting ‘Analysing Environmental Data’ on Monday 23rd October 2017 between 1:15 pm and 4:30 pm. The meeting will be held at Scottish Natural Heritage, Great Glen House, Leachkin Road, INVERNESS, IV3 8NW.

This will provide an opportunity to present and discuss progressing or recently completed statistical analyses of physical, biological, terrestrial, marine and atmospheric environmental data. Analysis of such data is often challenging and by sharing experiences and expertise all can learn, to help progress analyses, and refine interpretations.

The first session will be presentations of four 15 minute talks on physical or biological environmental statistical or modelling analyses from throughout the north of Scotland (vaguely defined as anywhere north of and including St. Andrews). Each talk will include a brief discussion opportunity. The meeting organisers therefore invite abstracts for consideration for this part of the meeting. The abstract need not describe a definitive analysis although it would be appropriate if results were available and that at least some conclusions had been reached. The purpose of these talks is not to ‘show-off’ the work, but to generate discussion from which we will all learn and thereby improve our current and future analyses. The meeting organisers will consider these and expect to assemble a balanced selection of talks including the range of submitting institutes. The abstract should include the name of the speaker, title, institute, a 200 word summary, and a contact email address. Abstracts should be sent to and received before 8:00 am on Monday 11th September. A decision on the presentations selected will be sent to all those proffering an abstract by 8:00 am 18th September.

The second part of the meeting comprises an invited talk by Dr Adam Butler. Dr Butler is a senior statistician at Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland in Edinburgh with extensive experience of analysing environmental data and his talk (title not yet available) will be based on his experiences of analysing environmental data.

This meeting is held under the auspices of the Royal Statistical Society’s Highland Local Group and also Environmental Statistics Section, and is being organised by Megan Towers (SNH), Roger Humphry (SRUC) and Malcolm Hall (Scottish Government). There is no charge to attend the meeting although all attendees (other than Dr Butler) will be required to meet their own travel and subsistence costs. Tea and coffee will be available at the meeting, and while there is no charge for this, a small donation of your choosing to help cover these costs (if you are not a member of the Royal Statistical Society or giving a talk), would be gratefully received. However we do not wish to embarrass anyone, all will be welcome to refreshments, and if you are unable to donate don’t let it stop you attending.

Due to the size of our venue, kindly made available to us by SNH, the meeting is limited to 60 participants (including speakers). It would help if you could send a note letting us know that you intend to attend by the 17th October to This will ensure that space will be kept for you in the unlikely event that we are oversubscribed, and will also help us to order an appropriate number of refreshments. But if you don’t manage to send this note, you are welcome to take a chance by simply turning up.

Submission of abstracts: by 8:00 am 11th September
Decisions on abstract: by 8:00 am on 18 September
Requested registration: by 8:00 am on 17th October
Meeting date and times: 1:15-4:30 23rd October 2017

Early warning for November meeting:

Phil Crook (Secretary RSS International Development Working Group [IDWG]) has arranged to come up to Aberdeen to hold an information session, ultimately to talk about opportunities for the IDWG. They are particularly interested in some Health and Climate change statistics information (and possible collaborations). This is going to take a slightly different format to our usual meetings. There’ll be a 1 to 1½ hours talk to include questions and answers.

Title: “Measuring Sustainable Development”
Speaker: Phil Crook (Secretary RSS International Development Working Group [IDWG])
Venue: Foresterhill Health Sciences Building, Room 115, Aberdeen
Date: November 9th 2017
Time: 3-5pm with Tea

Let us know if you would like to attend using Skype if you can’t make it to Aberdeen


In September 2015 the United Nations General Assembly adopted seventeen aspirational "Global Goals”, stretching from “End Poverty” through “Combat Climate” to “Peace, Justice and Strong institutions”.

The goals are associated with 169 “targets” and about 230 “global indicators”. The annual report on progress towards the targets which will cover every country, developed as well as developing. It is easy to be cynical about global initiatives and the validity of statistics on “strong institutions”, but experience in the UK and globally shows that such targets and indicators can have profound effects on behaviour. The talk will cover the proposed SDG indicator system, the process and politics of developing global indicators, experience with the preceding MDG indicators, and some of the outstanding technical statistical challenges for measuring SDG indicators.

Previous Seminars (from May 2000-)

Related information of interest to fellows

Local Links

Links to the Royal Statistical Society

Website maintained by