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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences
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Professor Paul Smith 

Professor of Official Statistics, Director of Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute (S3RI)

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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 appointed as Director of S3RI from the beginning of 2021.

It is important to have evidence on the best statistical methods so that high quality official statistics can be produced efficiently

Paul graduated in Botany and Maths from the University of Wales in Bangor, and has an MSc in Statistics from Sheffield University. He worked for 25 years in the Office for National Statistics, spending most of that time in the Methodology area, where he gained extensive experience in the theory and practice of sample surveys applied to businesses, households and the population census.

Paul is a member of the Royal Statistical Society, an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, and a member of the International Association of Survey Statisticians and International Association for Official Statistics. He was the Discussion Papers Editor for the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society 2017-20, and is Associate Editor for Survey Methodology and the Journal of Official Statistics.  He has been a member of the Advisory Panel on Consumer Prices (Technical) since its inception in 2015.

In addition to his work on official statistics, Paul is interested in vascular plants and their parasitic fungi (particularly rusts and smuts). He volunteers for the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland (BSBI) as Plant Recorder for the Outer Hebrides.

He was the Discussion Papers Editor for the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society 2017-20, and is Associate Editor for Survey Methodology and the Journal of Official Statistics.

Research interests

Paul has a wide range of research interests related to official statistics, including in estimating and adjusting for coverage errors in population censuses, estimation of discontinuities in statistical series due to changes in statistical methods and practices, and more generally in sampling, weighting and estimation methods for business and social surveys. He is also interested in the history of official statistics, and has co-authored two books on the history of price measurement in the UK.

Selected research projects:

MAKSWELL – funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme

Assessment of discontinuities on the National Survey for Wales – funded by the Welsh Government

Introduction of tablet based data collection on the International Passenger Survey – funded by the Office for National Statistics

UK population lab scoping projects – funded by the ESRC

Error in non-survey sources, coverage, concepts and linkage of administrative datasets – funded by the Office for National Statistics


Paul also does research into the distribution and ecology of vascular plants and plant parasitic fungi.

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Paul coordinates and/or teaches several modules on the MSc Data Analytics for Government (MDataGov):

  • STAT6zzz MOffStat preparatory week
  • STAT6088 Statistics in Government
  • STAT6096 Introduction to survey research
  • STAT6114 Data science foundations
  • STAT6119 Data visualisation
Professor Paul Smith
Reception Building 58 University of Southampton Southampton SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number : 58/4139

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