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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

Research Structure and Environment
The Department has built upon its reputation for research excellence through the implementation of a range of policies which seek to nurture the research potential of each individual and to facilitate the strengthening of specialist fields such as International Human Rights Law, Public Law, International Trade Law and EC Law. Over half of the publications cited in RA2 are in peer-reviewed journals of high standing. In its self-assessment, the Department claims that most of its research output is of international quality. The high regard in which of members of the Department are held by their peers, international organizations, government departments and the judiciary, in this country and abroad, (see RA6) speaks strongly to the scholarly esteem of its research output.

The strategic organization and management of Law research at Essex is based on three principles:
egalitarianism in workload allocation, sabbatical leave (see below 2.a Time) and Research Endowment Fund entitlement (see below 2.a Funding);
recruitment policy, where the Department appoints both established scholars of the highest reputation (such as Brigid Hadfield) and highly promising junior scholars (such as Hong-lin Yu) who are already producing cutting-edge research; and
the development of group research, medium-term and long term. The Department has benefitted from the low turnover of staff, limited to just four departures during this Research Assessment Period. This has enabled the development of clusters of researchers and is in part attributable to the atmosphere of collaboration and mutual commitment that has been established. The Department has expanded during this Research Assessment Period, adding nine staff to the research base. The Department has also benefitted from the active involvement of staff in research centres (see below, 1.d).

a. Research Achievements
During this RAE period, members of the Department of Law at Essex produced more than ten major research monographs on judicial review, property rights, juries, conflicts of laws, international human rights law, international criminal law, internationational trade finance and international competition law, as well as numerous articles in scholarly journals. As will be explained in detail below and in RA6, the Department has succeeded in attracting almost £1 million in research funding in the current RAE period. The Department's Human Rights Centre completed the World Report on Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion and Belief in 1997 (Kevin Boyle and Juliet Sheen) and continues to co-ordinate the Democratic Audit (established 1992). Members of the Department researching in human rights ran expert conferences for government departments that gave rise to policy documents and subsequent scholarly writings (Geoff Gilbert's article on UNHCR stems from the 1998 Essex- DfID conference on human rights in acute crisis). The Department's long-term study of Corporate Governance (established 1995) has resulted in Janet Dine's monograph The Governance of Corporate Groups, and has spawned a new research group into international human rights and multinational corporations.

b. Mechanisms and practices for promoting research and sustaining and developing a vital research culture
The non-hierarchical ethos of the Department results in a co-operative research culture. This culture manifests itself both in day-to-day staff relations and through mechanisms that the Department has instituted. The Department has a programme of formal mentoring for staff on probation (see below, 2.b). However, an informal support structure is available for all staff in the Department with respect to their research. Members of staff work with others from their own and related fields, from both inside and outside the Department, even though the final research output is single-authored. Evidence of this co-operative approach to research within the Department is to be found in the acknowledgements in the publications of Steve Anderman, Bob Watt, Geoff Gilbert, Jane Wright, Janet Dine, Tom Cornford, Peter Luther, David Ong, Peter Stone, and Gavin Phillipson.

Research is managed by the departmental Research Advisory Group. The role of the RAG is to stimulate, co-ordinate and monitor research. A number of initiatives have been adopted to foster research co-ordination. One such is ‘Open-House Lunches’ in which staff discuss broad areas of potential research activity. Another is the programme of Work-in-Progress sessions (WiP) where papers at an advanced stage are discussed. The WiP sessions are interdisciplinary, bringing in, where appropriate, colleagues from the Departments of Government, Sociology and Philosophy. The RAG has also established a series of monthly Research Workshops attended by staff and research students for the presentation of research methodology and work-in-progress. In sum, there are fortnightly meetings within the Department where joint discussion of research takes place. Current projects being pursued by members of the Department include a group working on Corporate Governance. This includes Company, Labour, Environmental and Criminal lawyers (six members of the Department in total) who have, additionally, organized working sessions with academic lawyers from the University of Stockholm, and a project on multinational corporations and human rights - see below 3.a International Human Rights Law and International Trade Law.

The strategic policy of fostering collaboration between staff has resulted in numerous joint publications, both internally and with colleagues from outside. Examples include, Dine & Watt, Frédérique Dahan & Gerry McCormack, Maurice Sunkin & Elizabeth Palmer, Françoise Hampson & Boyle (with Aisling Reidy), Gilbert & Wright, Luther & Helen Browning, Sabine Michalowski & Lorna Woods, Deirdre Fottrell & Bill Bowring, and Sunkin with Andrew Le Sueur, with Genevra Richardson, and with Lee Bridges and George Meszaros. In addition, several pieces of individual research have appeared as a result of collaborative work. These include the Report of the Conference on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Acute Crisis, edited by Nigel Rodley and Dr Mukesh Kapila (DfID) and containing sections by Rodley, Hampson, Gilbert and Boyle. Sunkin and Sebastian Payne's The Nature of the Crown (OUP 1999) contains chapters by Sunkin, Cornford, Hadfield and Watt. Other individual and joint publications resulting from the collaborative environment are seen in the work on international human rights law, international trade law and public law.

Collaborative results are also seen in the conference activities of Department members. Steve Peers and Watt organised the second Essex Discrimination conference in 1997. Rodley, with Boyle, Hampson and Gilbert, ran on behalf of and in collaboration with the Department for International Development, the expert conference on Human Rights in Acute Crisis in February 1998. Rodley and Gilbert then arranged the Torture Reporting conference in September 1999 for the Human Rights Policy Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Boyle has organized many conferences in Egypt with Egyptian academics on behalf of the British Council. Sunkin co-organised the ESRC Research Conference on the Impact of Judicial Review with Genevra Richardson (QMW) in November 1999. Fottrell co-ran a conference in 1996 which led to an edited collection: Minority and Group Rights into the New Millennium. In all of these conferences, the members of the Department also delivered papers.

In addition, members of the Department present papers at conferences as a forum for discussion and then later expand them into refereed publications. Peers is the co-ordinator of the EC SPTL section as well as a participant, while Dine, Gilbert, McCormack, Phillipson, Wright, Anderman, Fernne Brennan and Sunkin have all presented papers at SPTL, garnering comment and criticism before publication. The international research standing of the Department is also reflected in the contributions of staff members to major conferences. ‘Privacy post incorporation: how private is my private life?’, was delivered by Wright in May 1998 at the Centre for European Legal Studies, University of Exeter, which was then published in L. Betten, (ed.), The Human Rights Act 1998 - What It Means (The Incorporation of the ECHR into the Legal Order of the United Kingdom), Kluwer 1998. Ong was Invited by the editor of the American Journal of International Law, Jonathan Charney, to give a paper at a Joint Conference of the American Society of International Law and the Australia-New Zealand Society of International Law, in Canberra, June, 2000 on ‘The Legal Status of the 1989 Australia-Indonesia Timor Gap Treaty Following the 1999 UN East Timor Referendum: Is State Succession to Joint Development Required by International Law?’. Hadfield gave a paper at the British Academy Conference on the British Constitution in the 20th Century, London , September 2000. Hampson gave the keynote presentation at a closed conference at the US Naval War College, Rhode Island. Kevin Boyle delivered a paper at the EurAsia Annual Inter-Governmental Conference, Paris in 2000 on 'Restriction on Freedom of Expression'. Sheldon Leader delivered a paper at at the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, Casablanca on freedom of association and NGOs in October 2000. McCormack gave a paper at the International Conference on Credit and Security at the European University Institute, Florence. Watt presented a paper to the National AIDS Trust Conference on criminal transmission in Sheffield 1997 leading to his joint article with Dine (see RA2). In addition, amongst others, Gilbert, Wright, Hadfield and Rodley have all delivered papers at staff seminars at the invitation of other Law Departments during this Research Assessment Period.

Finally, the Department also invites external experts as speakers in order to exchange ideas and develop existing research projects - the Department has appointed a Research Administrator to co-ordinate speakers and projects. Speakers at Essex since 1996 have included: Alan Phillips, Director of the Minority Rights Group, with whom Gilbert and Wright went on to run a symposium sponsored by the FCO in 1998 - their papers from the symposium were submitted to the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities; Ian Martin, former Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in East Timor, who assisted Ong in relation to certain aspects of the paper he went on to deliver in Canberra 2000 (above); and, Professors Ekeland and Johansson from Stockholm participated in discussions amongst the corporate governance group.

c. Research Infrastructure
All members of the Department have their own computers in their offices, set up to have access to the Library’s specialist CD-ROM databases, LEXIS, WestLaw and Smith-Bernal Casetrack, as well as other internet resources. The Department has established a Research Support Office with 1.5 secretaries whose duties include providing assistance with research grant applications to the Research Councils, Charities such as Leverhulme and Government Departments in conjunction with the University’s Research Office.

The Department is very well supported by the University which places the highest priority on research and scholarship - it has received approximately £28,000 from the University’s Research Promotion Fund (RPF) in the assessment period. The University has a generous budget for library acquisitions - there are almost 50,000 law books, reports and journal volumes, as well as other resources available in electronic format. The Library spent £130,000 on Law in 1999-2000. The Librarian points out that Essex has maintained one of the highest levels of library acquisitions expenditure for United Kingdom universities and in the most recent BIALL academic law library surveys (1998/99), acquisitions expenditure at Essex was 39.2% above the median for libraries at ‘old’ universities.

The Department’s Ph.D programme has expanded dramatically since 1996, with the 21 students (35 including those in their completion year) studying in fields such as public law, international human rights law, the law of armed conflict, refugees, European Community law, company law and legal theory. These students contribute to the culture of research in the Department through the presentation of papers at the research workshops (see 1.b, above). The Department has supported Ph.D students to go to international conferences and present papers. The Department has just appointed its first Ph.D. student, Karen Hulme, to the faculty. Taught postgraduate students have published articles in journals, such as the International Review of the Red Cross and the Journal of Business Law, as a result of research papers written for their degree programmes.

d. Support for interdisciplinary or collaborative research
Departmental staff were founder members of and are active in a number of research centres, both within the Department and where Department co-operates on an interdisciplinary level. The centres actively promote collaboration. They include: the Human Rights Centre; the Pan-European Institute; the Centre for European Commercial Law; the Child Law Centre; the Institute for Labour Research; the Centre for Theoretical Studies; and the Health and Social Studies Institute. The Human Rights Centre's Democratic Audit project, which includes experts from outside Essex, involves six members of the Department. The Human Rights in Acute Crisis conference, run at the behest of DfID, involved four members of the Department, plus a colleague from the Department of Government (see above, 1.b, for collaborative publications). Administrative support is also received from the staff of the Human Rights Centre, the Pan-European Institute and the Centre for Theoretical Studies.

e. Research Users (Government), plus influence of Government initiatives and policies
Members of the Department have been directly involved in projects for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Home Office and the Department for International Development (eg. Report of the Conference on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Acute Crisis). They have also contributed to research carried out by the Department for Trade and Industry and the Lord Chancellor’s Department. Dine was a Commissioner for Friendly Societies. Further detail on how national governments and international organizations, especially the United Nations and the European Community, have called upon members of the department for their expertise and analysis may be found in RA6.

Staffing policy

a. Development and support of research work of staff
Securing optimal time and funding for research
- Time
. Full advantage is taken of the University's sabbatical policy which permits one term's leave after six term's teaching. Sabbaticals since 1996 have provided the following opportunities for research: Sunkin (Withdrawing), Palmer (Needs), Peers (Caveat Emptor), Gilbert (Transnational Fugitive Offenders), Hampson (NGOs in situations of conflict), Dine (Transnational Corporations), Stone (Civil Jurisdiction), Anderman (EC Competition), Wright (Autonomy) and Rodley (Treatment of Prisoners). The Department will grant a light teaching term where major projects are in progress - eg. Cornford’s chapter in The Nature of The Crown. The University also provides generous support for the completion of projects through its Research Promotion Fund - eg. Luther on Campbell, Espinasse. The Department encourages research-led teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Teaching commitments are six hours per week and are matched as closely as possible to research interests. A spread of more than two subject areas is avoided in the vast majority of cases. In the light of the new, more flexible Joint Statement by the Law Society and Bar, the Department has instituted a full scale review of its curriculum which will seek to enhance opportunities for research.

- Funding. Members of the Department have obtained funding for research in excess of £1 million during the last RAE period (further details in RA6). The specialist groupings of experts within the Department forming clusters for specific research topics, such as human rights or public law, add to the credibility of such bids. The data to be found in RA4 show that during this RAE period, the Department has attracted funding from the ESRC, the United Kingdom government, the European Community and major charities. In every case, even where the Department's reputation led to it being invited to put in a bid, the funding was obtained in competition with other applicants. The Department is also proud that these grants have been obtained by staff at all stages of their academic career, from lecturers to professors.

The Department provided a substantial research allowance of £4,000 over the Research Assessment Period to each member of staff to allow participation at United Kingdom or international conferences. Additionally, postgraduate students are encouraged to help with research projects - for instance, two Ph.D candidates have contributed chapters to the Project on Fundamental Rights in Europe and North America, based at Osnabrück University, run by Wright (see RA6). Where funding is sought for a project, the Department expects wherever possible that the budget incorporates a buy-out from University duties. As a result of successful research bids, Sunkin, Cornford, Luther, Carolyn Hamilton, Boyle and Rodley have been relieved of teaching and associated administrative duties - an example of a specific outcome is Sunkin’s 'Regulating the Judicial Review Case Load'.

Where outside funding is received with overhead, the University supplements individual scholars’ research accounts based on a percentage of that overhead. The University has established a generous Research Promotion Fund, mentioned above, while the office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) supplies information on opportunities for collaboration in and funding of research in order to facilitate scholarship, and assists in the formulation of research grant applications.

b. Younger Staff - integration
The Department takes pride in the fact that the majority of those people submitted in RA2 were initially appointed as junior staff at Essex and their research has been nurtured from within. Moreover, all of those submitted as lecturers in 1996 have been promoted since then on the basis of research output - Wright, Ong, Peers, Watt. The dates of birth in RA1 do not necessarily reflect the length of the Department member’s career as an academic. The University has a five year probation period for inexperienced staff designed to provide a proper environment in which to develop research skills. Moreover, inexperienced researchers are assigned senior academic staff in their specialist field as mentors. This also brings them within existing research clusters. By way of example, Brennan (mentor: Dine) and Yu (mentor: Anderman) have begun to develop a promising publications profile in their respective fields even though they have only recently commenced an academic career. The policy is being followed with respect to our most recent junior appointments - Richard Cornes is being mentored by Hadfield, and Merris Amos by Wright. The same was true of Phillipson, mentored by Sunkin from 1997-2000.

c. Role of newly recruited staff
Since 1996, the Department has embarked on a planned expansion of research activity in the areas of international human rights law, international trade law, European Community law and public law, growth driven by the Department's international reputation in these areas, and accordingly has made a number of new appointments in these fields. It is notable that all seven first-choice appointments made by the appointments panel in 1999-2000 accepted the post when it was offered. These new academic appointments have been added to existing specialist clusters and have enhanced the prospects for collaborative and supportive research.

Focusing on the year 2000, Fottrell adds to the existing strength in international human rights law, including women’s rights. Paul Hunt provides expertise in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as Rapporteur of the UN ESCR Committee. He complements the existing strengths in all other areas of human rights and humanitarian law. Moreover, his arrival at the same time as the appointment of Agasha Mugasha has enabled the establishment of a forum for research in trade and rights (see below, 3.a). This forum examines the need to bring together the disparate fields of human rights law and commercial laws to harmonise mechanisms which are capable of alleviating poverty. Woods and Angela Ward join the distinguished team of EC Lawyers; Woods has a specialist interest in the regulation of the converging communications industries in the international context and has brought together colleagues to form a long-term research cluster in this field. Hadfield, Cornes and Amos join the established team of public lawyers, strengthening research expertise in devolution and United Kingdom human rights.

d. Departing Staff
There have only been three departures since 1996 and one retirement; Nick Bernard left for a Readership at QUB and Bowring for a Chair at UNL. During this RAE period, every person leaving has been replaced by someone in the same or a very similar field.

Users of this website should note that the information is not intended to be a complete record of all research centres in the UK

Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL

Last updated 17 October 2003

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