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The Advisory Board on Ethics


The ISI Advisory Board on Ethics (ABE) was established in 2010.

The ABE advises the EC and Council on relevant ethical issues and recommends or undertakes activities for promoting observance of ethical principles in statistics. The work of the Board is based on the ISI Declaration on Professional Ethics and guided by the relevant objectives of the ISI and its mission. The objectives, which seem particularly relevant in this respect, are as follows:

  • To promote and disseminate research and best practices in the statistical sciences
  • To establish an appropriate role for the ISI in promoting public awareness of good statistical practice and its value to the community, and in supporting good practice
  • To enhance the ISI’s support for the statistical community in developing countries

The points of the ISI mission, which are especially relevant to the activities of the Board, are the following:

  • Promoting excellence in the practice of statistics
  • Supporting the international statistical community in promoting the establishment and maintenance of sound statistical institutions

The scope of the work of the Advisory Board on Ethics is the full range of statistics, including official statistics.

The role of the Advisory Board is to:

  • Provide advice to the Executive Committee or Council of the ISI on how to respond to ethical issues that are brought to its attention by the Committee or Council;
  • Assist the Executive Committee or Council with providing advice on ethical issues to individual ISI members or institutional members seeking such advice.
  • Recommend the Executive Committee or Council on activities that the ISI should pursue to address emerging ethical issues, especially the promotion of good practices; and
  • In this light, suggest an appropriate activity for each World Statistics Congress.

The Advisory Board on Ethics is chaired by Mr. Stephen Penneck. The composition of the ABE can be found here.

Activities of the Advisory Board

The Advisory Board should not just react to issues referred to it by the Executive Committee or Council. It should also recommend specific activities concerning ethical issues that are emerging, perhaps as a result of new principles or guidelines.

Types of activities the Advisory Board might consider are as follows:

It might propose meetings at the World Statistics Congress or elsewhere to discuss and support ethical principles in emerging areas of concern.

Given that documents and presentations from these meetings can often provide very useful reference material, it might propose the preparation of publications, articles in existing ISI publications, or a web page with this purpose in mind.

It might recommend establishing ad hoc committees, working groups, etc. to provide advice to the Executive Committee or Council on specified areas that are outside the areas of expertise of the Advisory Board or require detailed consideration.

Where advice on ethical or integrity issues is sought by a member or institution (as distinct from asking the ISI to intervene on their behalf), the ISI should attempt to respond consistent with its objective to enhance the ISI’s support for the statistical community in general, and in developing countries in particular. The Advisory Board should assist the Executive Committee and Council to the extent requested and feasible. Any advice should be guided by the ISI Declaration of Professional Ethics.

The Board may co-opt experts in particular fields (preferably ISI members) or set up working groups to investigate particular issues.

Modalities and processes with respect to Terms of Reference 1:

Investigate in the light of the ISI Declaration of Professional Ethics the facts to ensure that allegations of ethical breaches are correct and to better understand the issues at hand;

Draw the issue to the attention of the relevant Association of the ISI and ask if they want to be involved;

Co-opt experts to the Advisory Board if the relevant expertise does not already exist on the Advisory Board;

Circulate a draft of the advice to the Executive Committee and/or Council to all stakeholders for comment; and

Finalize the advice and forward to the Executive Committee and/or Council together with a summary of comments received during the stakeholder consultation.

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