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Methodology Centres of Expertise

Methodology teams

Methodology is made up of several teams which specialise in specific parts of the statistical production process and underpin the statistical infrastructure.

The teams include:

Address Register

A definitive, central address register is becoming increasingly important in the production of statistics, particularly within the census and for the linking of administrative datasets. This team works closely with Ordnance Survey, Royal Mail and those involved in maintaining   the National Address Gazetteer to ensure a high quality register of residential and business addresses is available for ONS.

Big Data

The amount and variety of data that are available for analysis are growing rapidly. Data are also available faster than ever often in the form of unstructured datasets which are potentially available in real time. The Big Data team is leading work to identify how ONS and the Government Statistical Service (GSS) can gain the best value from the use of Big Data.

Classification and Harmonisation Unit

This team provides support and guidance for the common classifications used in official statistics. These include the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC). The team works to promote harmonisation and consistency of definitions, questions used, output categories and more across the GSS.

Data Collection Methodology

This team provides advice on making the best use of the different modes and methods available when collecting data in social and business surveys. Work includes questionnaire design, the use of focus groups, cognitive interviewing, and user experience laboratories. A current key focus is on assessing how ONS can best use online data capture.

Data Editing and Imputation

This team research efficient methods and techniques for detecting and treating errors and missing fields in returned data. They also look at handling non-response. These methods attempt to limit the impact of errors in collected data without burdening respondents.

Data Linkage

A growing importance of administrative records in counting and estimating the population is making the ability to effectively match and link between records increasingly important.

This new team is developing expertise in techniques for data linkage and are currently evaluating different methods. Further guidance will be published here when available.

Data Visualisation

Graphs and maps are a great way of making statistics memorable and meaningful. “A picture paints a thousand words” which makes well-designed graphs or maps an excellent way to share a statistical story. See examples of this multi award-winning team’s work in the at Visual.ons.


The Geography team provide the structure for collecting, processing, storing and aggregating virtually all Government Statistics. They provide key geographic products, such as maps and digital boundary sets, geographical postcode directories and databases. They also maintain the geographic policy for National Statistics and provide advice and support on geography to all users of statistics.

Index Numbers, Prices and Inflation Measurement

This team research and develop methods and techniques for calculating economic indices. Recent research has included an assessment of different methods used in the calculation of measures of inflation.

National Accounts Methods

This team provides advice and support on methodology to the National Accounts area of ONS.  National Accounts also has its own expert team who work on key developments in this area.

Quality Centre

This team provides advice on all aspects of quality management, quality control and quality reporting in official statistics.

Sample Design and Estimation

This team develop methods to ensure efficient survey samples, and to derive estimates ( including small area estimates) from social and business surveys and sampled data. They are currently focusing on plans for the 2021 Census, and how administrative data can be combined with surveys to produce good estimates of the population.

Statistical Disclosure Control

Maintaining the confidentiality of data provided to ONS is of paramount importance. This team develops methods to ensure that personal information is never revealed.

Statistical Training Service

The Statistical Training Service provides a range of statistical training for ONS and the GSS by  in-house trainers and external organisations.

Statistical Computing Branch

This branch provides advice and support for statistical software programs used in producing  official statistics. This includes best practice advice for writing and structuring code, checking, and quality assurance of technical solutions.

Time Series Analysis

This branch provides advice on methods for the analysis and publication of time series. They also update the models used to seasonally adjust economic time series.


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