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ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Demystifying statistics

One-day short course


12th May 2015


ANU Crawford School of Public Policy


Nicholas Biddle



This practical course at The Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy, 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 Nicholas Biddle

Dr Nicholas Biddle has extensive experience with the development and use of official statistics. He has a strong background in statistical and quantitative methodology. A Fellow in the Research School of Social Sciences at The Australian National University, he recently returned from a visiting position at Stanford University. Nicholas worked for seven years in the Methodology Division of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), developing and using official statistics. He is an engaging and enthusiastic presenter with a consistent focus on the application and policy relevance of empirical data.

Course date: 9.30am–4.30pm 12 May 2015
Venue: #132 Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, ANU
Cost: A$1,100 GST incl; Group discounts applicable

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