Smart statistical reporting to aid transparency

New guidance for statistical reporting will increase the usability of EFSA’s scientific outputs making it easier to understand and reproduce or repeat statistical analyses used in EFSA’s scientific assessments. The document helps study authors to explain ‘what was done and how it was done’ in a standardised and harmonised way by providing a step-by-step check list of reporting requirements.

This will benefit stakeholders as well as scientists working in different areas, including EFSA’s Scientific Panels and scientific staff. Potentially, this guidance could also be used by other EU bodies, universities, research centres and other scientific bodies.

After publication, the guidance can be applied to statistical reporting in scientific outputs produced by EFSA, or on EFSA’s behalf, as well as studies sent to EFSA. This includes studies submitted as part of a dossier for the evaluation of regulated products such as food/feed additives, pesticides or health claims.

The guidance can also contribute to better study planning, potentially reducing  the need for follow up work that can delay scientific assessments such as dossier clock stops when EFSA is required to request additional data for regulated product evaluations.

Also, through standardised working practices statisticians will be able to move more easily between projects, boosting efficiency and business continuity (for example, when a statistician can no longer work on the report). In the longer term, the more systematic documentation of the statistical analysis carried out will make it easier for future use and reuse.

From 28 May to 23 July2014, EFSA held an open public consultation on the draft guidance document and contacted other EU agencies for feedback before the document was finalised. The comments provided insights that helped EFSA to further refine and improve the quality of the guidance.

Feeding into “Open EFSA”

This guidance was the result of innovation by EFSA staff wishing to improve the openness and transparency of the Authority’s work. The document complements and supports the goals of the “Open EFSA” initiative, which aims to transform EFSA into an Open Science organisation over the coming years.

EFSA is currently reviewing the extensive feedback provided during a public consultation on its “Transformation to Open EFSA” discussion paper held from July to October 2014. In early 2015, the Authority will launch a Roadmap for the next phase of this process, taking on board the input from the public consultation as well as feedback from the EFSA Management Board.