Results of survey of statisticians at JSM 2013 conference

September 12, 2013

(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

During the 2013 JSM (Joint Statistics Meetings) Conference in Montreal, Revolution Analytics conducted a survey of attendees from August 5 to August 8. The 865 respondents gave their opinions on the privacy and ethics related to data collection, and on their familiarity with statistical software used for the analysis of such data.

Out of the 865 statisticians surveyed:

  • A majority of the data scientists surveyed (overall — 88%; Life Sciences/Healthcare industry — 89%; Education — 87%) believe that consumers should worry
    about privacy issues with all of the data being collected on them. 


  • 80%
    agreed that there should be an ethical framework in place for collecting and
    using data.


  • More
    than half of data scientist that agreed that ethics already play a big part in
    their research.
  • Only 10%
    of respondents thought that there should not be an ethical framework with 1%
    stating that ethics should not play a part in data research.
  • In the
    education industry 76% of data scientists said that there should be an ethical
    framework in place for data analytics – while 49% of that group declared that
    ethics already play a large part in their research.
  • Similarly
    – in the life sciences/healthcare industry a majority (92%) agreed that having
    ethical framework was necessary with 64% of data scientists in the life
    sciences/healthcare industry said that ethics are already a part of their

The survey also polled respondents on their familiarity with popular statistical analysis software. 


  • 51% are very familiar or somewhat familiar with SAS. 12% are not familiar.


The detailed survey results are below. (Percentage calculations do not include nonresponses. All respondents completed the survey by accessing the local Wi-Fi network at the conference.)

In which country do you live?

USA:   717  80%
Canada: 79   9%
Others: 69  11%

of the following best describes your occupation?

Education               519   62%
Non-Academic Research   178   21%
Consultant               68    8%
Corporate IT/Analytics   70    8%

Which of the following best describes your organization's industry?

Education                   528   62%
Government/Defense           61    7%
Consulting Firm              41    5%
Life Sciences/Healthcare    158   18%
Technology/Software/Web      39    5%
Others                       29    3%

consumers worry about privacy issues related to the data that is being
collected on them?

Yes	751	88%
No	102	12%

there be an ethical framework in place for collecting and using data?

Yes—Ethics already plays a big part in my research           442   52%
Yes—An industry standard  on ethics needs to be implemented  238   28%
No—Ethics of data should be examined on a case-by-case issue  78    9%
No—Ethics should not play a part in data research              8    1%
I don’t know                                                  87   10%

How familiar are you with the following statistics products/languages: R/Revolution R

Not Familiar          83   10%
Somewhat Familiar    214   26%
Very Familiar        512   62%
Don't Know            23    3%

How familiar are you with the following statistics products/languages: SAS

Not Familiar          100   12%
Somewhat Familiar     284   35%
Very Familiar         417   51%
Don't Know             21    3%

Revolution Analytics press releases: Data Scientists Warn Consumers of Data Privacy Concerns 

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