GDP Quarterly National Accounts: Quality and Methodology Information

Information for quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) statistics, introducing the data sources and methods used and the strengths and limitations of the data.

Publication information

  • Designation: Accredited official statistics (National Statistics)
  • Frequency: quarterly and annual (some monthly estimates are separately available)
  • How compiled: sample-based surveys, administrative sources, and sub-UK regional methods
  • Geographic coverage: Scotland excluding extra-regio activity (UK ITL level 1: TLM) and partly Scotland including extra-regio activity (part of UK ITL level 1: TLZ)

About this Quality and Methodology Information report

This report contains information on the quality characteristics of the statistics and a summary of the methods used to produce them. This includes reference to the standard European Statistical System five dimensions of quality: relevance, accuracy and reliability, timeliness and punctuality, coherence and comparability, and, accessibility and clarity.

This report is structured in a similar way to the quality and methodology information (QMI) reports produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). In particular we have based parts of the report on content from the UK Gross Domestic Product QMI, which provides information on the equivalent statistics for the UK as a whole.

The information in this report will help you to:

  • understand the strengths and limitations of the data
  • learn about existing uses and users of the data
  • understand the methods used to create the data
  • help you to decide suitable uses for the data
  • reduce the risk of misusing data

This report is being updated on an ongoing basis, and further information will be added over time. 

If you have any questions about any aspect of our statistics and methodology then please contact us at


Quality summary


Gross domestic product (GDP) measures total domestic economic activity and can be measured in three different ways: the output approach, the expenditure approach and the income approach. GDP estimates can be presented in volume terms, sometimes called real terms, which are adjusted to account for inflation (changes in price levels) and in current price terms, sometimes called nominal terms, which reflect the actual values at the time in question.

GDP estimates are produced monthly, quarterly and annually:

  • the GDP monthly estimate consists of output data and is our most timely official estimate of economic growth. These are official statistics in development.
  • there are two publication stages for the quarterly GDP estimates: the GDP first quarterly estimate, and the quarterly national accounts; in addition to output data presented in volume terms, the quarterly national accounts estimates also include expenditure and income data, and estimates in current price terms, to give a fuller picture of Scotland’s economy.
  • annual GDP estimates are also published at two different stages: they are provisionally available once all quarterly data for a given year is available in the quarterly first estimate and quarterly national accounts; more comprehensive annual estimates are then published around 2 years later in the Supply and Use Tables which are based on a much wider range of data.

Further information produced by the ONS on UK GDP, which also has some relevance to understanding GDP statistics for Scotland, can be found in the National accounts methodology and UK national accounts - a guide.

Quality characteristics of GDP statistics

The following pages provide a range of information that describe the quality and characteristics of gross domestic product (GDP) data and identifies issues that should be noted when using the output.


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