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Research Profile

Prof Tony Coxon 


Career Profile

  • I was a Conscientious Objector during National Service, and went as an anglican ordinand to Leeds University (1958) as part of training at College of the Resurrection, Mirfield, taking BA Combined Honours in Sociology & Philosophy. In the event,  I was not ordained, but stayed at Leeds University to do my PhD in Sociology (on the Ministry), and subsequently was appointed to the lecturing staff, specializing in Sociology of Religion, of Occupations, in Research Methods and in Peace Research
  • I was visiting Lecturer for a year at M.I.T 1968-9, during the period of the international Student Revolts.
  • Returning to Edinburgh University in 1969 I was a Principal Investigator in three Projects that flavoured the rest of my career:
    • POOC (Project on Occupational Cognition –looking at people’s conceptions of the occupational and status structure using quantitative and qualitative methods),
    • INQR (international development of Phil Stone’s “General Inquirer” program for doing computer-assisted content analysis) and
    • MDSX (developing a user-friendly library of programs for multidimensional scaling, a set of techniques for visualization of data).
  • In 1975 I moved as a new Research Methods Professor to (then) University College Cardiff, as founding Director of the Social Research Unit. Having initially planned a British equivalent of the Kinsey studies on male sexuality, this was overtaken by the advent of Aids/HIV in 1982 , leading to the initiation and funding by the Medical Research Council of the 5-wave national longitudinal SIGMA Project (Socio-sexual Investigations of Gay Men and Aids), making Cardiff the first and most crucial such project in the UK.
  • In 1986 I technically took early retirement and moved to the University of  Essex as founding Director of the British Household Panel Study, and subsequently as Professor in Sociology and Health Studies (and briefly as Acting Director of the ESRC Qualidata archive).
  • Having taken full retirement in 2002, I retired to the Isle of Islay and worked on an occasional basis with the University of Edinburgh, consulting on projects like the Scottish Scoping Study and the Demographic Review of the Social Sciences.
  • I moved back to Cardiff in 2005.

Awards and Prizes

  •  1971    Visiting Research Fellow (UNESCO) Soviet Academy of Sciences, Institute of Empirical Social Research, Moscow
  • 1975     Invitational Colloquium on Social Network,  (US) Mathematical Social Sciences Board at Dartmouth College.
  • 1983     Hooker Distinguished Visiting Professor, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario
  • 2007     Distinguished Lecturer, Essex Summer School

Memberships / External Activities

  • British Sociological Association (Executive Committee 1967, 86)
  • Social Science Research Council / Economic & Social Research Council:
  • Sociology, Computing (Chair 1976,1981) Subject Committees
  • Postgraduate Training Board; College of Assessor/Course Recognition;
  • Risk, Violence Initiative; Steering Group on Aids
  • Medical Research Council: Advisory Group on Longitudinal Studies
  • World Health Organization: Special Adviser Global Programme on Aids; Co-ordinator of 7 National Homosexual Response Studies
  • Health Authority Consultancies: Terrence Higgins Trust; Evaluation Committee HEA; Bro Tâf HA (Professor), Barnet, North Essex, West Kent, S-E London Health Authorities, Consultancies on HIV, PSE, Aids/HIV, Gay Men’s Health
  • Royal Ordnance, Management Division, Consultant on multidimensional scaling and data analysis 1986
  • Conflict Research Society , Council 1965 - 72
  • British Association for the Advancement of Science (Sociology) Committee 1967 - 71
  • Council for National Academic Awards, Religious Studies Committee, 1967

Teaching Profile

  • Research Methods (Quantitative and Qualitative, and Philosophy ) primarily for social scientists, but also to Lawyers, Health scientists, Psychologists; from 1st year to post-doctoral levels; from specialized to generic in range;  and including e-learning (Edinburgh) and visiting lecturer at Nuffield College Oxford; Durham University.
  • Specialism in Multidimensional Scaling and related combinatorial data analysis methods: Classification, Clustering, Factor Analysis, Tree & Network Models, neural networks
  • MDS Summer School courses (ECPR/Essex 1972-2007) , ICPR Michigan, SSS Lugano, SS Koeln, Trento  
  • Mathematical Sociology (Essex)
  • Primarily Qualitative methods: textual and content analysis; thematic analysis, and also methods of systematic data collection and analysis, particularly  the method of sorting and its variants
  • Substantive-related courses in:  Occupations/Mobility/ Inequality; Religion; Sexualities and lifestyles.