Projecting Our Voice

Posted on

Increasing the Public Voice of Statistics, the second of ISI strategic priorities, is the focus of my comments this month. Be warned that there are homework assignments embedded in this column.

Higher public profile on statistical issues

As described in our strategic plan, this goal captures the desire for ISI to adopt a higher public profile on statistical issues, an aspiration identified by ISI members in our last member survey. Some of these issues were: the image of statistics and the place of the profession; promoting best practice in statistics; data science and data analytics and the collaboration with computer science; being a champion for the public value of good statistical information and analysis, including topical and challenging issues; promoting the value of Open Data; defending statistical integrity and ethical standards; being particularly active with politicians and the media; and debating the use and misuse of statistics.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

The ISI Public Voice Committee, chaired by Vice-President Peter Guttorp, has initiated and implemented a number of important responses to promote this second strategic priority. Let me highlight a few of these activities.

ISI’s collaboration with ISC

Statistics is a key player in science, and ISI becoming an affiliated member of the International Science Council in 2019 connects us to a global community of other scientific organizations. ISC, the largest global science organization, has a vision to “advance science as a global public good”.  Further, the ISC vision addresses the importance of “scientific knowledge, data and expertise” being “universally accessible and its benefits universally shared”.  Finally, the ISC mission concludes with the statement “the practice of science must be inclusive and equitable, also in opportunities for scientific education and capacity development” (my bolding). Every occurrence of the word “science” in my quotes from the ISC vision could be replaced by “statistics and data science”, and we would be happy with such statement. Areas of common interest for ISI and ISC include collaboration on the ISI Committee on Data, social media outreach, multidisciplinary research, risk analysis and risk management, connections with the UN and presenting science to decision makers. This collaboration is in its early stages. We look forward to seeing the results of this connection come to fruition in the years to come.

ISI’s online presence

Other initiatives of the ISI Public Voice Committee include building a web page with blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels of interest to ISI members and a general audience, adding a COVID-19 resources web page, and improving the Wikipedia category “Statisticians by nationality.” { ISI Member homework: develop and contribute Wikipedia entries of statisticians in your country and region. } 

Special Interest Group on Communicating Statistics and Data Science

The ISI Public Voice Committee is looking to partner with the Special Interest Group on Communicating Statistics and Data Science. Like many activities launched around the time of the emergence of the pandemic, this SIG is off to a slower start than we hoped but collaborating with the public voice committee may help jump start the activity in this group.

“Statisticians react to the news” blog

One final and important initiative of the Public Voice Committee is the suggesting the formation of the “Statisticians React to the News” blog that is led by Megan Higgs. This weekly blog includes immediate reactions to what is reported in local, regional, national or international news or more general comments on how statistics is reported in the news { ISI Member homework: Volunteer to contribute to the blog. Contributors are asked to submit two posts in a calendar year. We are a diverse, global community and it is exciting and interesting to read about what is happening in your part of the world. }


Finally, two working groups are connected with this public voice effort. The International Year of Women in Statistics and Data Science (#IYWSDS), led by ISI Council Member Jessica Utts, has promoted a number of events. These range from special sessions at association conferences to webinars to IYWSDS podcast episodes to hackathon recognition to organizing late-breaking sessions for the WSC 2021 in July.

Virtual ISI WSC 2021

The ISI Data Science working group, led by ISBIS President-Elect Daniel Jeske, identified six initiatives for discussion and exploration: Branding, Collaborations, and Publications, Capacity Building, Data Warehouse, and Data Science Without Borders. A couple of late-breaking sessions at the WSC 2021 will feature a summary of these deliberations and more { ISI Member homework: Register as soon as you are able to attend the WSC 2021. You don’t want to miss any of sessions in this program including those organized by these working groups. Go to your calendar now and block out July 11-16 so you can prevent people from adding meetings during the WSC – I just did this!}

I am grateful to the participation and leadership of so many ISI colleagues to help promote the public voice of statistics. I hope that all ISI members will join me to promote our efforts to promote the public voice of statistics.

John Bailer (@john_bailer)
ISI President
05 March 2021


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *