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SACRO: Semi-Automated Checking Of Research Outputs

Smith, Jim; Preen, Richard; Albashir, Maha; Ritchie, Felix; Green, Elizabeth; Davy, Simon; Stokes, Pete; Bacon, Sebastian


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Jim Smith
Professor in Interactive Artificial Intelligence

Richard Preen
Senior Research Fellow in Machine Learning

Maha Albashir

Simon Davy

Pete Stokes

Sebastian Bacon


Output checking can require significant resources, acting as a barrier to scaling up the research use of confidential data. We report on a project, SACRO, that is developing a general-purpose, semi-automatic output checking systems that works across the range of restricted research environments. SACRO is designed to
• Automate checking of most common statistics, using best-practice principles-based modelling.
• Support researchers using the major analytical languages (R, Python and Stata), with minimal changes,
by exploiting the ‘wrapper’ approach successfully trialled already.
• Support secure environments with different operating models and output checking workflows, through a
process of co-design to maximise useability.
SACRO builds on previous work: (ACRO, funded by Eurostat and reported in in the 2021 Workshop) to establish the proof-of-concept; and Py-ACRO which showed how a software-independent tool might be developed. It differs from those earlier projects in terms of a wider range of statistics covered, and a requirement to achieve general applicability. To do this, the project draws on our extensive networks of practitioners. A series of workshops and ‘hands-on’ evaluations ensure the design frameworks support buy-in from a wide range of prospective users across health and social sciences, and from the public and private sectors.


Smith, J., Preen, R., Albashir, M., Ritchie, F., Green, E., Davy, S., …Bacon, S. (2023, September). SACRO: Semi-Automated Checking Of Research Outputs. Paper presented at UNECE Expert meeting on Statistical Data Confidentiality, Wiesbaden, Germany

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name UNECE Expert meeting on Statistical Data Confidentiality
Conference Location Wiesbaden, Germany
Start Date Sep 26, 2023
End Date Sep 28, 2023
Deposit Date Aug 25, 2023
Keywords disclosure contro, privacy, automation
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