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Duncan-Jones, Paul (1929–1987)

Mr Paul Duncan-Jones, Principal Research Fellow in the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) Social Psychiatry Research Unit, died on Saturday 11 July while bushwalking with friends near Mt Majura. He was 58.

Mr Duncan-Jones was born in London and educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He had extensive experience in the social sciences in the UK, particularly in survey research while a Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford. In 1972 he was appointed Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology, Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS), where he took part in a large study of social mobility.

From 1976 until his death, he was a Senior Research Fellow in the NH&MRC Social Psychiatry Research Unit. There, he brought his considerable knowledge of statistics to bear on the epidemiology of psychiatric disorders, and was a major contributor to the 1978-79 survey of psychiatric disorders in Canberra. He continued this track of work, carrying out highly creative studies on the natural history of common symptoms, particularly anxiety and depression. In this field, he earned an international reputation. His work on the aetiology and cause of minor psychiatric disorders was characterised by innovation, the creative application of recent statistical methods to psychiatric research, and a relentless insistence on following the data, rather than traditional thinking.

Mr Duncan-Jones was an adviser to many younger investigators in mental health research throughout Australia. These included psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and social scientists. The international literature in psychiatric research will remain enduring evidence of his contribution, particularly in the areas of latent trait theory and structural equation modelling. The Australian psychiatric research community, with its obligations to the public health, is now deeply conscious that one of its most useful resources has gone. There are many at ANU, elsewhere in Australia and overseas, who will continue to regret that he is no longer with us.

Mr Duncan-Jones is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son, to each of whom we offer our sympathy.

Original publication

Citation details

'Duncan-Jones, Paul (1929–1987)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 4 June 2023.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2023

Life Summary [details]


London, Middlesex, England


11 July, 1987 (aged ~ 58)
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

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