2.7 - Statistical Ethics

The American Statistical Association and the Royal Statistical Society have published similar guidelines for the conduct of their members:

  1. Maintain professional competence and keep abreast of developments
  2. Have constant regard for human rights
  3. Present findings and interpretations honestly and objectively
  4. Avoid untrue, deceptive, or undocumented statements
  5. Disclose financial or other interests that may affect or appear to affect professional statements
  6. Seek to advance public knowledge and understanding
  7. Encourage and support fellow members in their professional development.


In terms of data collection in clinical trials, statisticians should do the following:

  1. Collect only the data needed for the purposes of the inquiry
  2. Inform each participant about the nature and sponsorship of the project and intended uses of the data
  3. Establish the intentions and ability of the sponsor to protect confidentiality
  4. Inform participants of the strengths and limitations of confidentiality protections
  5. Process the data collected according to the intentions and remove participant-identifying information
  6. Ensure that confidentiality is maintained when data are transferred to other persons or organizations


In terms of dealing with sponsors/clients, statisticians should do the following:

  1. Clarify their qualifications to undertake the inquiry
  2. Reveal any factors that may conflict with impartiality
  3. Accept no contingency fee arrangements
  4. Apply statistical methods without regard for a desirable outcome
  5. Outline alternate statistical methods along with the chosen methods
  6. Maintain confidentiality with regard to other sponsors/clients

ASA Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice