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A3: The importance of better data

A3.1 Data Quality: an introduction

In the world of ‘Big Data’, where increasing amounts of data are needed to make sound private and public decisions, data quality problems can create significant economic and political inefficiencies. Data quality should not be considered as only a problem of reducing sampling errors and other measurement errors. Recently, statistical data quality has been interpreted as continuous improvements to the data production process, by introducing the concept of Current Best Method (Filippucci et al., 2000). In general, however, as Karr et al. (2005) pointed out, "Data quality merits more attention from the statistical community, especially among academics. Faculty engagement in the problem has been virtually nil."

An attempt to introduce data quality issues with respect to organic market data was made by Feldmann and Hamm (2013, 2014). Indeed, a broader concept of data quality is needed to put more attention on the whole process, from data collection to data processing and analysis.

According to the European Statistics Code of Practice (Eurostat, 2011), market data need to be: accurate and reliable, timely and punctual, coherent and comparable, and easily accessible. At the same time, the resources allocated to data collection need to be adequate. Organic market data does not yet fulfil any of these criteria.

Improvement is possible, although the organisations involved in developing, producing and disseminating organic market data need to invest more resources. In general, data quality need more networking and funding at national and EU levels.
The principles set out in Part B are intended to help in the achievement of a higher level of data quality in developing, producing and disseminating organic market data.

A3.2 Quality issues and quality checks

Many stakeholders appear to have the wrong impression: that organic market data are relatively available and of good quality. There are a discrete number of data collectors, and organic market data reports are published in some countries, using national or international data. These might give the false impression that the current state-of-the-art of organic market data production and dissemination is relatively advanced.

Indeed, although data are indeed produced and disseminated, there are too many data gaps. Also, as we have shown, the overall reliability and quality of these data remain relatively poor.

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