On 27-28 April 2020, a group of around 50 postgraduate research students from the Law Faculty presented at the annual conference that forms part of the Faculty’s Course in Legal Research Methods. The event was opened by Professor Anne Davies, Dean of the Law Faculty (day 1) and Professor John Armour, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies (Research) (day 2).

Gayathree Devi Kalliyat Thazhathuveetil, Thomas Reyntjens, and Tim Cochrane

The conference was structured in 11 panels, organised thematically so that students could present in a panel with others working on similar or complementary research questions. Each student gave a presentation on the methodological aspects of their project: their choice of methods, the suitability of those methods for interrogating their research question(s), and any methodological challenges that they had encountered over the first 1-2 years of their project. These presentations were followed initially by comments from a discussant, and then by Q&A with other panelists and the online audience.

The presentations were of an exceptionally high standard, showcasing the ground-breaking work being done by our research students in both established and emerging fields. A variety of methods were on display: audience members were treated inter alia to discussion of applications of AI to the analysis of digital texts, of historical research in not-yet-digitised land registry archives, of the exploration of theoretical questions at the intersection of political, moral and legal philosophy, of comparative work at the boundaries of private and public law, of ways to reveal and interrogate the assumptions underlying judicial reasoning, of differences in the scope and effect of concepts in international law compared with domestic law traditions, of path dependencies that help explain why the law is developed through one doctrine in one jurisdiction and through another elsewhere, of ways that one might measure whether goals in sentencing had been achieved, and of ways in which existing accounts of the organisation of parts of private and public law might be reorganised or reframed to better give effect to the law’s own stated goals. In one panel there were presentations on three projects motivated by the same ‘real world problem’ (access to pharmaceutical drugs), but each involving the deployment of different methods, a reflection not only of the expertise of each researcher, but also of the particular features of their intended audience.

Each presentation was enriched by thoughtful comments from the discussant and the broader audience. Discussants interrogated the framing of research questions, queried why one method had been used over another or suggested what might be yielded from deploying additional methods, and offered insights and lessons from their own experiences. The enthusiasm and engagement of the wider audience meant that the discussion in each panel had to be interrupted to enable the next to begin on time.

Congratulations to all who participated:

Panel A: Mauricio Garetto Boeri, Christopher McKernan, Fernando Contreras, Raphaël Grenier-Benoit

Panel B: Aradhya Sethiya, Johann-Jakob Chervet, Pedro Felipe de Oliveira Santos, Ashleigh Barnes

Panel C: Rahul Bajaj, Ellen Jin, Julia Osei-Tutu, Katarina Foss-Solbrekk, Marie White

Panel D: Jordan English, Emmanuel Giakoumakis, Christopher Stackpoole, Spencer Robinson, James Bailey

Panel E: Simon Atkinson, Chen Chen

Panel F: Mónica Arango Olaya, Sam Lamsdale

Panel G: Kacper Majewski, Cécile Degiovanni, Shasha Sun

Panel H: Umar Azmeh, Stephanie Tang, Cora Chan, Kristina Arriaga, Titiksha Mohanty

Panel I: Tim Cochrane, Beril Boz, Srijana Regmi, Gayathree Devi Kalliyat Thazhathuveetil

Panel J: Luke Tattersall, Alexander Wentker, Manu Sanan, Vanshaj Ravi Jain

Panel K: Georgios Pantelias, Colin Riegels, Thomas Reyntjens, Peter O'Loughlin, and Tim Cochrane