Statistics Explained, a way of publishing European statistics on the website for a general and non-specialist public, is maintained and developed jointly by Eurostat's Dissemination unit and production units. The overall governance is defined in detail below, addressing questions on the management and updating of existing content, the creation of new content, validation procedures and roles and responsibilities.
These governance rules have remained valid and essentially unchanged since the opening of Statistics Explained to Eurostat staff in April 2009 and to the general public in September 2009.
Statistics Explained targets the general public who can be either professional specialists or non-specialists. The writing style, technicality and structure of the articles must be adapted to this audience. In addition, Statistics Explained provides an easy entry point to two other user categories: interested non-specialists may find easy-to-understand explanations of concepts or terms; specialists can access the latest data and technical metadata, down to any desired level of detail, on the Eurostat website and elsewhere.
Anyone within Eurostat is allowed to change any content in Statistics Explained after having logged in. As a result, changes are:
- not anonymous, but linked to a specific and identifiable user;
- carefully logged by the system;
- reversible at any time.
In addition, changes are not immediately effective and visible to users, but only after full validation (see below).
As a result, Statistics Explained pages are
- not the full property of one or a few authors, they are collective albeit under control of the Dissemination unit and the owning production unit;
- continually and organically evolving and improving;
- much more easily corrected than traditional publications.
Contributors not respecting professional or ethical requirements may be excluded from further updating.
Non-Eurostat contributors (e.g. contractors or members of the ESS) can be included under conditions controlled by the competent production unit.
Responsibility for pages
- The content of every statistical article, background article or glossary item is owned by the unit responsible for the statistical theme, survey or method which it treats. This unit is called the 'owning production unit'. If a page is the result of collaboration between units, only one unit has the main responsibility and has the final say in the validation of its content.
- The Dissemination unit is responsible for the content of the foreground area (navigation pages such as the main page, themes pages, and categories) and of the background pages not assigned to a Unit (e.g. category 'general concept').
- The Dissemination unit is responsible for the dissemination format of all pages: readability and usability as well as the conformity to standards and limitations as to length, models and templates, links, minimal content etc.
Procedures, choices, options
The Dissemination unit draws up and updates all instructions and tutorials for contributors, manages the agreements on content and format and assures that they are uniformly respected throughout Statistics Explained in close cooperation with the CODIF.
Anyone within Eurostat may create or update pages. Changes become visible to users after they have been validated by both the owning production unit and the Dissemination unit.
First approval by owning production unit
Any content change on a Statistics Explained page first has to be approved ('Tutorial:How to create an article - validation') by the unit and/or directorate responsible:
- data updates or other minor revisions are sighted by one or several editors nominated by the head of unit, for one or all topics the unit is responsible for; to this end, they are assigned the associated right to sight Statistics Explained page (see the present list of persons nominated with editor rights).
- new articles and major revisions have to be sighted by the director.
Second approval by Dissemination unit (Statistics Explained team) and/or Chief editor
A second validation, by which the article is published and becomes publicly visible, is done by the Statistics Explained team and, if needed for sensitive issues, by the Chief editor:
- new articles and major revisions are checked by the Dissemination unit (Statistics Explained team) on layout, respect of standards, structure, web-effectiveness, coherence tables/text, relevance, style, readability and sufficient quality and by a native English speaker on English language (grammar);
- minor revisions are checked by the Dissemination unit (Statistics Explained team) on the same aspects and validated directly.
The article might be returned to the owning production unit for reworking if the quality of the article is deemed insufficient.
Discussions and conflicts
It is expected that most changes will be uncontroversial and distinct improvements. Discussions may also arise, however.
- The unit/directorate owning a page has the final say on matters of content.
- The Dissemination unit decides on navigation, readability and respect for the formatting and conventions on length, style etc.
- Discussions between the Dissemination unit and other units on subjects touching on both content and format can be presented to the CODIF (if the conflict is of general interest) or be arbitrated at Director level.
Updating of governance rules
Based upon the way rules operate in practice and disagreements arise and are resolved, CODIF will follow up, reflect and advise on changes to these governance rules.