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ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Demystifying statistics

One-day short course


23rd June 2016


ANU Crawford School of Public Policy



This practical course will help you learn more about the statistics you use, and give you the skills and confidence to use them.

Course overview


Statistical data is frequently used to measure performance or assess the effectiveness of government policy and services delivery. However, statistics cannot always be taken at face value. The assumptions and methods used to generate statistics potentially affect the conclusions that can be drawn from them.

Policymakers  need to ask themselves questions such as: is the sample that the statistics are based on representative of the population? Are the questions used to obtain the information relevant to the concept I’m interested in? Are there other explanations for the observed relationship between the data?

This course is designed to give non-statisticians the information they need to interpret data and make informed policy decisions. Mathematics will be kept to a minimum and preliminary information will be made available as a series of complimentary online lectures. These online lectures aren’t compulsory, but will be useful background for those without any experience in data collection or analysis. The remainder of the course will focus on examples and the practicalities of the Australian and international statistical environment. Come armed with questions and learn through interactive exercises to confidently interpret and analyse the data that you use in your day-to-day work.

Course convenor

Dr Anthony Swan

Anthony Swan is a Research Fellow in the Development Policy Centre and Lecturer in the International Development and Economics (IDEC) program at the Crawford School of Public Policy. He conducts research on a broad range of issues related to aid and development economics, international economics, and globalisation. His is currently working on the Promoting Effective Public Expenditure in PNG (PEPE) project which looks at how Papua New Guinea allocates its public money and the effectiveness of its public expenditure in key service delivery sectors. The objective of PEPE is to inform PNG’s political and bureaucratic leadership, civil society and general public of current levels of service delivery performance, and to influence allocations and expenditure rules to promote better allocations and more effective and transparent expenditure. Anthony’s PhD was on quantifying the effects of economic globalisation on production and trade patterns, levels of innovation, and welfare across countries. Prior to the Crawford School, Anthony was a lecturer at the University of Papua New Guinea, a Research Fellow at the PNG National Research Institute, and an economic consultant at Access Economics.

Course date: 9.30am–4.30pm 23 June 2016
Venue: Crawford School, ANU
Enrol: T 02 6125 2154 E
Cost: $1,100 GST incl; Group discounts applicable

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