Recommendation on Quality Description

All OSF statistics must be accompanied by a quality description. The quality description should be a concise assessment of the quality, reliability and suitability of the statistics for different purposes. Its central objective is to show how the OSF quality criteria are fulfilled in the statistics in question.

This recommendation for a quality description was approved at a meeting of the Advisory Board of Official Statistics of Finland on 25 January 2007. It will be reviewed against feedback from users.

Publication of quality description and referring to it

A quality description is published at the same time as the statistics concerned, so that the users of the statistics have easy access to it. The quality description is posted on the publisher's website and the web address of the description is given in all publishing formats of the statistics. The quality description can also be published as part of a printed publication.

The quality description always relates to statistical data released at a certain point of time. Different versions of the quality description will be stored.

Where necessary, the quality description can refer:

  • To a separate text in a printed publication, such as the conceptual part of a statistical publication, or to a separate publication, such as a handbook or methodological description.
  • To the Concepts Database or other electronic accounts from which the users of the statistics can find the data that are too extensive to be presented in the quality description.
  • To a separate publication, such as a handbook that focuses entirely on the description of a certain statistical, benefit or similar system.

In compilation publications of several different statistics, reference can be made to the quality description by table or data group. If included are both OSF statistics and other statistics, OSF statistics and their quality descriptions can be indicated with the OSF symbol in, for example, source references.

Contents of a quality description

  • Name of the producer of the statistics.
  • Grounds for the compiling of the statistics:  References are made to the possible acts, decrees and recommendations on which the compilation of the statistics is based.
  • Funding basis of the statistics:  The financing of the production of the statistics is specified, especially from the standpoint of the continuity of the production of the statistics.

1. Relevance of statistical information

  • A summary of the information content and purpose of use of the statistics. The national comprehensiveness of the data is defined.
  • An introduction to the concepts essential for understanding the statistics, and the used classifications, research subject and data providers.
  • An account of how the users' perspective is taken into consideration in the development of the statistics.

2. Accuracy and reliability of data

  • A proof that the statistics measure the phenomenon they are supposed to measure.
  • An account of the research method of the statistics, that is, the population, used basic data, survey design (census or sample survey), (sampling design), data collection method, estimation methods and use of weighting coefficients in sample surveys.
  • An account of the issues that can influence the reliability of the statistics. In addition, the main elements that may cause uncertainty, that is, possible sources of error (e.g. non-response or undercoverage), should be reported. Where necessary, parameters related to survey quality are tabulated for estimates by main classifications. For example, in sample surveys they should contain estimates of design-based standard errors and/or confidence intervals, and design effects.
  • Descriptions of revision practices and procedures for correcting errors in the statistics.

3. Timeliness and promptness of data

  • The release frequency and measurement period of the statistics are indicated.
  • A notification is given about whether the data are preliminary or final. Where the statistics are first published as preliminary data, the time when the final data will be available is stated.
  • If the data may become revised in future due to, for example, seasonal adjustment the probability of change must be made explicit to the users of the data.
  • The web address where the release calendar can be found is given.

4. Coherence and comparability of data

  • The uniformity and coherence of the statistics are assessed relative to other statistics on the same topic. The used general classifications and concepts are identified and reasons are given if they are not used.
  • Information is given about the temporal comparability of the statistics and their comparability with other data. The lengths of the available time series are given for the statistics from whose data comparable time series have been produced.

5. Accessibility and clarity of data

  • The publication channels of the statistics and the contact details of the unit producing information services are stated. The publication channels can comprise paper publication, online database, set of html pages, CD-ROM, etc.
  • Information is given on where the description, metadata, and extensive quality and methodological descriptions of the statistics can be found.
  • Procedures concerning the release of microdata are described.