He was the first director, from 1989, of the ESRC Research Centre that created the pioneering long-running British Household Panel Survey.
Professor Coxon was well known for his work in quantitative methods teaching and had a passion for both collecting and using empirical data. Particular areas of research included his earlier work on occupations and perceptions of occupations, research methods relating to cognitive sociology and diary methods, and later his important work on sexualities and sociology of sexual behaviour and homosexuality.
He was well known for co-ordinating the longitudinal survey of sexual behaviour, project SIGMA, one of the largest studies of gay and bisexual men in the world. SIGMA was an integral part of the WHO Global Programme on Aids’ seven-nation Homosexual Response Studies which shared research instruments with a number of U.S. and European projects. A component part of SIGMA data consists of 1,975 month-long sexual diaries kept by cohort members. Data from this Project SIGMA Essex : Socio-sexual Investigations of Gay Men and Aids, Sexual Diaries Project, 1987-1994 are available from the UK Data Archive.
Professor Coxon was an inspiration to many younger researchers all over the world, taking the time to discuss and instruct on his distinct methodological approaches. He was passionate about ensuring a legacy of quantitative methods skills for UK social science, and contributed to the ESRC’s recent take up of action in this area.
He retired from Essex to Islay with his partner Phil Hawkins in 2002 where they worked together on an occasional basis with the University of Edinburgh, consulting on ESRC projects such as the Scottish Scoping Study and the Demographic Review of the Social Sciences. He also remained active in applications of multidimensional scaling (the newMDS(X) series of programs) and the method of sorting.
In 2008 he moved back to Cardiff where he continued to be research-active holding an Honorary Professorship at Cardiff University and Emeritus Professorship of Sociological Research Methods, University of Wales.
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