Empowering Ethical Research: The Centre for Applied Data Ethics at UK Statistics Authority
The Centre for Applied Data Ethics (CADE), established by the UK Statistics Authority in 2021, offers guidance, advisory committees, and resources to promote ethical data usage in research and statistics.
In the ever-evolving landscape of data-driven research, the ethical considerations surrounding data usage have gained paramount importance. To address these challenges and provide practical support, the Centre for Applied Data Ethics (CADE) was established by the UK Statistics Authority in 2021. Rooted within the UK Statistics Authority's data ethics team, CADE serves as a beacon of thought leadership and guidance, catering to the research and statistical community's ethical data needs.
At its core, CADE strives to offer a world-leading resource that not only caters to current requirements but also anticipates emerging trends. Collaborating with domestic and international partners, CADE aims to develop user-friendly and pragmatic guidance, training, and advice that foster the effective and ethical use of data for the greater public good.
One of the cornerstones of CADE's operations is the National Statistician’s Data Ethics Advisory Committee (NSDEC). This committee plays a crucial role in reviewing and supporting strategic research, statistics, and other outputs. Through advising the National Statistician, NSDEC ensure that the Centre's activities align with strategic need in the analytical community, and that the CADE remain at the forefront of ethical data practice.
CADE's contribution to the research and statistical community is further exemplified through its comprehensive set of guidance pieces, each designed to tackle specific ethical challenges in data usage:
Ethical considerations in the use of geospatial data for research and statistics - Whether in the air, on the ground, at sea, human-made or natural; the use of location data has ethical implications. Written in partnership with geospatial colleagues, this piece provides an initial introduction to geospatial data and ethics, before moving on to consider case examples and potential mitigations related to four key areas.
Considering public good in research and statistics: Ethics guidance - This is a guide to reflect on the relative risks and benefits of projects and to effectively articulate public good (something researchers can often struggle with).
Considering public views and engagement regarding the use of data for research and statistics - Considering the views of the public regarding how we use their data for research and statistics is important for public acceptability and trust. Here CADE writes about reviewing existing literature and initiatives as well as undertaking public engagement.
Using data from third parties for research and statistics: High-level ethics checklist - This piece is recommended when you plan to use third party data sources (e.g., ONS data), or other organisations’ services to collect data on your behalf.
Ethical considerations in the use of machine learning for research and statistics - Involving engagement and collaboration with multiple countries; this guidance was produced in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Machine Learning 2021 group led by the United Kingdom’s Data Science Campus, and as part of their Data Ethics workstream.
Ethical considerations related to the inclusivity of data for research and statistic - Including the use of primary or secondary data sources (e.g., admin data). It has been developed by the CADE and complements other inclusivity initiatives within the ONS.
Ethical considerations associated with Qualitative Research Methods - This is CADE’s most read guidance piece. Written in collaboration with the UK Government Data Quality Hub (DQHub), based at the ONS. This piece is a practical resource to identify different ethical issues when conducting qualitative research.
Ethical considerations relating to the creation and use of synthetic data - Starting with an introduction to synthetic data, and why ethics matters in this space. Followed by ethical considerations and mitigations, this is a useful resource for researchers planning to use synthetic data.
Beyond these comprehensive guidance pieces, CADE offers a range of services and support functions for the research community. Researchers can reach out to CADE at email@example.com or visit their website for further information.
As the digital landscape continues to expand and data's role becomes more significant, the Centre for Applied Data Ethics stands as a pivotal entity, bridging the gap between research, statistics, and ethics. Through its user-centric approach, strategic collaborations, and advisory committee's insights, CADE paves the way for a future where data-driven innovation thrives in harmony with ethical principles, benefitting both the research community and society as a whole.