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Methodology enhancements to secure high quality outputs

Demonstrating confidence in census outputs

NRS demonstrated confidence in the first outputs from the census in three ways:

  • National Statistics accreditation
  • Sound statistical methods
  • Coherence with other published statistics and data

National Statistics accreditation

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) have designated Scotland’s Census outputs as National Statistics based on good practice, and the quality and comprehensiveness of the statistics.

Ed Humpherson, OSR Director General for Regulation, wrote to NRS Chief Executive Janet Egdell on 13 September 2023 with confirmation of National Statistics designation for Scotland’s Census 2022.

Sound statistical methods

We made changes to our approach to secure high quality census outputs and population estimates. Statistical methods were already in place to produce estimates for the whole population, rather than just those who completed a questionnaire. 

The use of some of these methods has been revisited and updated in response to the lower than expected return rates in the collection phase.

This work builds on the methodology paper we published in September 2022. We provided an overview of the areas of research we were intending to take forward following the data collection phase of the census. This included ground-breaking work to combine information collected in the census itself, the Census Coverage Survey, and administrative data.

Our research has been guided by an International Steering Group (ISG). The ISG was established by the Registrar General to provide external advice on the statistical approaches that will be used to produce high quality census outputs.

Professor James Brown, Professor of Official Statistics, University of Technology Sydney is Chair of the International Steering Group. In the foreword to the report, Professor James Brown says: “These decisions were made on a sound methodological basis, providing NRS with a strong position for the statistical processing phase.”

On the publication of first outputs from the census Professor James Brown also said, “The International Steering Group commends NRS for its systematic and robust application of the census estimation methodology that has led to today’s published estimates.”

Coherence with other published statistics and data

A letter from Janet Egdell to Scottish Government Chief Statistician Ally McAlpine set out our assurance approach.

Ally McApline wrote back to Janet Egdell on the 24 August 2023 and said:

“I am therefore satisfied […] that the outputs will provide the robust population statistics to support the wider statistical system and that analysts and the general public can have confidence in the outputs, and that they can be published on 14 September 2023.”

Read more about the quality of the first census results.

Read more about our plans for census outputs

Stakeholder events

In June 2023 we told users about the work that has been carried out to deliver high quality census outputs.

See the slides from the event.