Edinburgh RSS local group
News 2006-2007

7 January 2007
Statistics and Registration Services Bill
RSS Edinburgh local group have prepared a document in response to a request to give evidence on the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Services Bill which impact on Scotland:
View the document online
Download as a Word file

Edinburgh RSS local group
Meetings 2006-2007

Analysis of high-dimensional data in bioinformatics
Friday 13 July 2007, 10am-5pm
Pollock Hall, Edinburgh
Organised by RSS study group on statistics genetics and bioinformatics

Further information
Please note that it is necessary to register for this event.

A National Strategy for Data Resources for Research in the Social Sciences: progress to date and future possibilities
Professor Peter Elias
Thursday 17 May, 3.30 - 5.30pm
Godfrey Thomson Hall, The Moray House School of Education, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ
Download poster: MS word



In an increasingly complex, dynamic and diverse society, there is a need to create better data resources to answer some of the more complex research and policy questions that arise. Developments in technology are creating new opportunities to create, record, store, retrieve and link data, resulting in a rapid growth in the volume of data potentially available for research. In the light of such developments, there is a growing recognition of the need for a more strategic and co-ordinated approach to the development and management of data as witnessed by the creation of a National Data Strategy involving collaboration between research councils, government departments, charitable trusts, academics and the Statistics Users Forum.

In this lecture, Peter Elias, the ESRC's Strategic Advisor for Data Resources will outline the Council's National Data Strategy and consider its relevance to Scotland. His presentation will be followed by responses from a panel who will offer reflections from an academic and policy perspective. Panel members are:

The seminar will be chaired by Lindsay Paterson, Edinburgh University.

This seminar offers a unique opportunity to discuss, and influence, the availability of good-quality social-science data for Scotland. It allows the future of Scottish data to be set in a comparative context with the rest of the UK and with developments beyond the UK.


Peter Elias is based at the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick. Since October 2004 he has been the ESRC Strategic Advisor for Data Resources and before this was a member of the ESRC Research Resources Board. His research interests range from the evaluation of large-scale government programmes designed to affect labour market behaviour, statistical monitoring of the status of particular groups in the labour market, the study of occupational change and the relationship between further and higher education, vocational training and labour market outcomes. Peter has published his research extensively in a wide variety of journals, book, research reports and papers. He is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.

Paul Boyle is Director of the Longitudinal Studies Centre - Scotland and Professor of Human Geography at the University of St Andrews. He was the founding Director of the Social Dimensions of Health Institute and Deputy Director of the Census Interaction Data Service. He is co-editor of the journal Population, Space and Place. Prior to joining the University of St Andrews he worked in the universities of Swansea, Leeds and Canterbury (New Zealand). Paul's research interests include geographical health and demographic issues.

Duncan Macniven has been Registrar General for Scotland since 2003, responsible for demographic matters including registration of births, deaths and marriages, population statistics and the census. He is a member of the UK Data Forum. Duncan previously worked for the Forestry Commission and the Scottish Office.

Diana Wilkinson was appointed Chief Researcher at the Scottish Executive in early 2006. She is Head of Profession for over 80 social researchers working within all the main SE Departments. Her own office provides research support to central Executive functions including Strategy and Communications. Diana has had a long term career in Social Research in the Executive, most recently in the Education Department. She is currently a member of the Scottish Funding Council's Strategic Research Development Grant Panel and the Education Sub-Panel for RAE 2008.

What can microsimulation tell us about the costs of free personal care?
followed by Annual General meeting of the Edinburgh RSS local group
David Bell, Head of Department of Economics, University of Stirling
Tuesday 1 May 2007, 5.30 - 7.00pm (refreshments 5pm)
International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, 14 India Street, Edinburgh EH3 6EZ
Download poster: MS word, PDF

This paper stems from work carried out under the ESRC/Scottish Executive demography project. It is based on a microsimulation model, OPERA, which was developed as part of that project. OPERA is based on the Family Resources Survey but incorporates information from other sources, including work that the author has undertaken for the Welsh Assembly. The model also includes the rules that govern the UK tax and benefits system, but at present does not incorporate behavioural responses to changes in taxes and benefits. However, the provision of care is endogenous to the model. The presentation will focus on how the costs of care respond to key drivers such as changes in healthy life expectancy, health conditions, informal caring and changes in unit costs.

AGM notice
This meeting is also the Annual General Meeting of the Edinburgh Local Group and detailed agenda and reports will be circulated at the time. It is also the time when we welcome nominations to the Committee - note that to be a member of the Committee you need to be a member of the RSS, either locally or nationally.

The Committee decides the Group's yearly schedule as well as its responses to public and RSS requests for information and expert opinion. We have a broad range of experience already on the Committee, but areas that we would be especially interested in strengthening would be Pharmaceuticals and Industrial Stats / Quality Control. Experience in planning large conferences would also be an asset.

If you wish to be considered for the Committee then please provide Alan (alanf@basethree.fsnet.co.uk) and Margaret (Margaret.MacDougall@ed.ac.uk) with your name, area of expertise / employment, and the name of an RSS member who is prepared to nominate you. Reciprocally, you can nominate a willing candidate. We would prefer to have these nominations by Wednesday 25th April, but nominations from the floor at the AGM are also accepted.

Fair votes in theory and practice
Denis Mollison, Heriot-Watt University
Tuesday 13 March 2007, 6.00 - 7.00pm (refreshments 5.30pm)
International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, 14 India Street, Edinburgh EH3 6EZ
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The Single Transferable Vote is coming to Scottish politics for May's Council elections, though elections for the Parliament on the same day will still use the same hybrid proportional system as previously. Electronic counting is being introduced for both elections.
The principles of STV are simple - maximising the effectiveness of each individual's vote, and achieving proportionality through votes for individuals not party lists - but have long been obscured by the complicated compromises of detail needed to make hand counting possible. The RSS itself pioneered the use of a streamlined computer-counted method over 20 years ago, while the John Muir Trust has subsequently pioneered a refinement which allows voters to give equal preference to candidates.
Unfortunately, the specific method being used in Scotland in May still includes some of the historic compromises, and has flaws of discontinuity and some vulnerability to tactical voting (though much less than does traditional `first past the post').
This talk will compare STV with other voting systems, especially those used to elect members of the Scottish and European Parliaments; comparing them both in theoretical respects, such as fairness, proportionality, and tactical voting, and in practical aspects affecting choices of candidates and campaigning.
It will also, taking Edinburgh as an example, show how the outcome of elections under STV can be estimated using voting or opinion poll information, together with a matrix of preference transfer data.

Collaborators, Consultants or Technicians: How Should Professional Statisticians Interact with Scientists?
Iain McKendrick, Principal Consultant for Animal Health and Welfare, Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland
Tuesday 9 January 2007, 6.00 - 7.00pm (refreshments 5.30pm)
International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, 14 India Street, Edinburgh EH3 6EZ
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This talk will examine the professional role of a statistical consultant. Statisticians from Biomathematics & Statistics Scotland (BioSS) deliver statistical consultancy to a wide range of biological and agricultural research organisations, and the talk will outline the role that statisticians need to play within such an environment. The talk will review the current activities of BioSS statisticians on ethics committees, will outline the ways in which statisticians can best interact with scientists, and will conclude by assessing the impact of the recent "Joint Code of Practice for Research" issued by a number of funding bodies to manage the quality of scientific research.

Escalators, Elevators and Travelators: Occupational mobility of Scots in South East England
Allan Findlay, Director of Centre for Applied Population Research, University of Dundee
Tuesday 5 December 2006, 6.00 - 7.00pm (refreshments 5.45pm)
- please note the venue will not be available before 5.45pm -
International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, 14 India Street, Edinburgh EH3 6EZ
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The seminar examines the links between occupational and spatial mobility of Scots living in the South East of England. Building on Fielding's (1992) escalator region hypothesis, as well as later research on return migration flows to the English regions by Champion (2004), the seminar reports on recent research on longer distance flows out of the UK's 'escalator region'. Using data from the Office of National Statistics Longitudinal Study (as well as some primary data) and log-linear modelling, it critiques the escalator region hypothesis and asks why the Scots population of London is dropping during a decade when oppurtunities for occupational mobility into the professional and managerial classes in the South East is so good.

Young Statisticians in Scotland
Kate Paton and Denise Hastie (NHS Scotland), Mairi MacAskill (Scottish Executive), Alex Cook (Heriot-Watt University), Sam Bell (Royal Bank of Scotland), Janet Lindley (Royal Statistical Society)
Tuesday 14 November 2006, 5.30 - 7.00pm (refreshments 5pm)
International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, 14 India Street, Edinburgh EH3 6EZ
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This workshop session will focus upon the experiences of young statisticians working or studying within Scotland, and is particularly aimed at students and at those who are just beginning a career in statistics. Recently qualified statisticians who work in the Scottish Executive, NHS Scotland and Heriot-Watt University will each give a short talk in which they outline their motivation for entering the profession, the challenges that they have faced, and their aspirations for the future. Janet Lindley will then outline the ways in which the Royal Statistical Society is able to support and encourage students and young statisticians, and will talk about current initiatives to increase the involvement and profile of young people within the society. Finally, there will be ample opportunity for open discussion of the issues raised by the speakers.

Issues for academic trials units in meeting the expectations of emerging clinical networks: a statistician's perspective
John Norrie, Director, Centre for Healthcare Randomised Trials (CHaRT), Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen
Tuesday 10 October 2006, 6.00 - 7.00pm (refreshments 5.30pm)
International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, 14 India Street, Edinburgh EH3 6EZ
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This talk will reflect on major challenges for academic trials units involved in randomised controlled trials (RCT) supported by clinical networks, from the perspective of an experienced trialist and statistician. With the rise of the UKCRC (www.ukcrc.org) and emerging clinical networks, alongside the increased bureaucracy associated with RCT, and fierce competition for funding, clinical researchers need to align themselves with accredited trials units to successfully deliver their studies. Such trials units bring the core RCT competencies - experienced trialists, trial managers, IT professionals, health economists, and statisticians - under one roof in a sustainable environment. The talk will draw examples from the Centre for Healthcare Randomised Trials (CHaRT, www.abdn.ac.uk/hsru/chart). In particular it will focus on the expectations now placed on statisticians in RCT, and highlight statistical aspects from the Scottish Collaboration of Trialists (SCoT, www.charttrials.abdn.ac.uk/scot) involving trialists from the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The talk should be of general interest, and in particular to statisticians involved in or hoping to become involved in randomised clinical trials.

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