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School of Law

Research strategy

As part of a research intensive university, the School of Law invests considerable resources to create an environment that enables staff members to carry out ambitious, influential and socially significant research.

Lady Justice statue at sunset

The School’s research strategy emerges naturally from Queen Mary’s location, historical character and convictions.

Our research seeks to capture voices that have been neglected or unheard and to incorporate them in our thinking and writing. Then, through our understanding of and connections to government, the professions and industries, to ensure a hearing for what they have to tell us.

It follows that the organising aim of the School’s integrated research strategy is to create original knowledge that is world leading and that in all its aspects is attentive to diversity of circumstance and outlook, demonstrates social and intellectual leadership, and helps to shape the world for the better.

Our strategic priorities for 2018-2028 are to:

  • Invest resources and develop mechanisms that will engender a strong, vibrant and aspirational research culture, which will facilitate and sustain the production of outstanding research.
  • Publish our findings in leading international outlets.
  • Secure external funding.
  • Foster PhD and PDRA research.
  • Strengthen our Research Centres and Institutes so that they can facilitate interdisciplinary and collaborative research, while increasing its impact beyond academia.
  • Enhance the impact our research has on the legal field and society more generally.

These strategic priorities will be pursued to maintain and strengthen our position among the world’s very best Law Schools while staying true to our unique identity.

Research

The School respects the self-direction and creativity of all researchers and seeks to ensure they have the support needed to produce outstanding research that is capable of making a difference in the world. Teaching and research contracted staff have a teaching and administrative load that is consistent with the conduct of high-level research, receive a research allowance, and are entitled to apply for sabbatical leave after six semesters of service.

Early career researchers (up to Senior Lecturer) are also allocated a mentor whose role is to provide tailored support on areas including: providing feedback on work-in-progress, developing strategies for journal selection and submission; navigating journal decisions; identifying and applying for research funding; and accepting and supervising PhD students. The commitment to supporting the development of researchers extends to everyone, including the most senior, although the touch becomes lighter and more nuanced with seniority.

Most importantly, all staff members are encouraged to provide constructive, critical feedback on each other’s work. In addition to mentoring, the School assists staff to produce high-quality research in a variety of ways, e.g. research quality calibration workshops, research/writing retreats and project-specific support. Our Centres and Institutes serve as research hubs and are responsible for introducing mechanisms to enhance individual as well as collaborative research, while facilitating interdisciplinary scholarship.

Publications

As part of a research-intensive university, the School of Law puts great emphasis on the publication of findings in leading scholarly journals as well as chapters and books with prestigious publishers. The School expects that each full-time member of staff on a research contract will publish on average one article in a leading scholarly journal, or equivalent scholarly output, every academic year and/or a book with a leading publisher every five years (or pro-rated). The School encourages each staff member on a research contract to be active in one or more of its Centres and Institutes and to collaborate with other academics who share similar interests with a view to producing high-quality publications.

External Research Funding

There is a drive to broaden and deepen our external funding for research activities from a diverse range of sources, including UK research councils, national governments (such as DFID/FCO), international intergovernmental organisations (such as World Bank, EBRD), alumni and global corporations (such as Microsoft). The School considers grant applications to be an intrinsic part of its agenda and encourages each member of research staff - not already working on a funded project - to submit a funding proposal individually or collaboratively, whether large (multi-year project) or small (travel or workshop fund), on average every two years.

Due to the importance of grant applications, both the University and the School provide a robust support mechanism to all those applying, while the School’s Research Managers arrange readers to comment and make suggestions on each proposal before submission. View the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Research Grant Application Peer Review Policy & Procedures [PDF 240KB].

Those researchers who first seek seed-funding money and do not receive it from University or Faculty sources are encouraged to apply to the Research and Staff Development Committee for financial support. Finally, the School’s Centres and Institutes provide the immediate research environment for collaborative grant applications and assist and support members applying for grants.

PhD Students and Post-Doctoral Research Assistants (PDRAs)

Training the next generation of scholars and experts is one of the most significant roles of every research institution. PhD students add intellectual vibrancy and help advance research in meaningful ways. The School invests in special workshops for its PhD students, allocates funding for fieldwork and stipends for living expenses, is actively involved in Queen Mary’s wider PhD activities and supports existing students and applicants to develop studentship bids.

The School expects its research staff to be open to PhD supervision and supports colleagues in undertaking this role, for example in teaching allocations and by teaming earlier career colleagues with experienced supervisors. Centres and Institutes may include PhD students on their executive boards, and those that have an academic journal regularly ask PhD students to join the editorial team. PhD students who participate in conferences receive financial support. PhD students are strongly encouraged to publish articles in refereed journals or book chapters in academic publications.

In a similar vein, PDRAs are a vital element of the School’s research culture and will be supported at every stage of their research endeavours while at Queen Mary. Post-doctoral positions provide a crucial stage in the development of a research career and the School is committed to expanding the number of PDRAs by increasing the number of applications for external funding. In addition to mentoring, a personal research allowance and access to all the support mechanisms available to permanent members of staff is offered through the School’s Research and Staff Development Committee.

Research Centres and Institutes

The School’s Centres and Institutes serve as research hubs that facilitate the development of new disciplinary and interdisciplinary scholarship, training sites for PhD students and PDRA’s, focal points for producing funding proposals, and platforms for knowledge exchange both within academia and across different sectors. Some Centres and Institutes will translate their research into policy engagement and increasing impact beyond academia to the profession, government, civil society and the industry. The School is committed to investing significantly in supporting the public engagement, outreach and impact activities of all its Centres and Institutes both through direct funding and by providing them with administrative and professional services.

Enhancing Impact

The School seeks to make a difference in the world, putting special emphasis on voices and interests that have been historically neglected, diminished, or even suppressed in the operations of law and justice, nationally and internationally. The School therefore supports the dissemination of research findings through a range of public engagements, aiming to influence the future development of the law and the policies of a range of actors. In order to facilitate impact outside academia, the School is committed to supporting public engagement and the work required to bring research impact to fruition.