Paul Smith joined Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute (S3RI) and the Dept of Social Statistics & Demography in September 2014 and is now Professor of Official Statistics, with a particular interest in sampling, estimation and other statistical methods applied to government statistics. He was Director of S3RI from Jan 2021 - Sep 2022, and was appointed Head of the Department of Social Statistics & Demography from August 2022.
Paul has strong links with the Office for National Statistics, and manages a long-running contract for methodological support with them. He also collaborates with other national statistical offices and government departments, in both research and substantive applications of statistics. Experience from these contacts provide real-world examples which are used in teaching, particularly on the MSc in Data Analytics for Government.
- Sampling and estimation methods in official statistics
- Dual system (capture-recapture) estimation in official statistics
- Price indices
- History of official statistics
- Vascular plants and their parasitic fungi (particularly rusts and smuts)
Paul is currently engaged in projects on sampling errors and other quality indicators for consumer price indices, and on the use of multiple systems estimation for data from administrative sources with different characteristics including missingness, measurement error and partial coverage. He has particular experience with business surveys, and is working on a project to assess the presence of rotation group bias in monthly business surveys.
Paul has taught several modules on the MSc in Data Analytics for Government (MDataGov), which replaced the MSc in Official Statistics (MOffStat). He has extensive experience of working within a national statistical office and of research in official statistics, which provides a wealth of practical examples to support his teaching.
External roles and responsibilities
Paul Smith studied Botany and Mathematics at the University College of North Wales, Bangor, and was then recruited as a Cadet Statistician by the Government Statistical Service, a role which included taking MSc in Statistics at the University of Sheffield. He then joined the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in Newport, South Wales, where he worked on a range of business surveys. In 1994 he joined an expanded Methodology Division within ONS, and worked on survey methodology for business surveys, expanding to social surveys and the population census. He was seconded to the Forestry Commission in Edinburgh for a year in 2000-1 before returning to ONS. His experience in the ONS has given him a wide appreciation of the challenges faced in official statistics methodology and a fund of real-life examples which help to inform his teaching and research.
In 2014 he joined the Department of Social Statistics & Demography at the University of Southampton, where he has remained closely connected with the world of official statistics through a long-standing research and methodological support partnership with the ONS and collaborations with statistical offices in the Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. He directed or co-directed the MSc Official Statistics and MSc Data Analytics for Government until 2022, when he took over as Head of Department.
He undertakes research in many areas related to official statistics, but still has a soft spot for business surveys; he has been on various committees for four rounds of the organisation of the International Conference on Establishment Statistics. Among recent research topics are capture-recapture (multiple systems) estimation and other uses of administrative data sources in official statistics, variance estimation for Consumer Price Indices, sample design for Producer Price Indices, population census methods, coordinated sampling.
As well as working with statistics, Paul maintains an interest in the botanical part of his undergraduate degree. He volunteers for the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland as botanical recorder for the Outer Hebrides, and edits Cecidology, the journal of the British Plant Gall Society. He has a particular interest in plant parasitic microfungi, and has published several papers on the taxonomy of smut fungi.
- Field Mycology Award (2019)
- Neil Findlay Memorial Trophy 2019 (2020)