Universiteit Leiden

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Praise from external review committee

On 7 and 8 October 2016 Leiden Law School received a visit from the external review committee, led by Mr Fred Hammerstein. This review committee reports on the results of research performed at the faculty and provides advice on how these results can be improved in the future. The assessment of the research review was extremely positive. A good reason therefore to discuss it with Larissa van den Herik, Vice Dean and Professor of Public International Law.

The research review visit went very well. What are you most proud of? In other words, what can your colleagues learn from Leiden?

"The visitation indeed went very well, both the preparations and the actual days of the visit, and the outcome is fantastic. All our research programmes were presented to the review committee, even  though some programmes had only just started after the continuation of the broad programme Multi-Level Jurisdiction, splitting it into four separate programmes. So we really put ourselves out on the line. I’m therefore very proud that the total breadth of the faculty research scored extremely high - all programmes were rated ‘2’ and the programmes on human rights, international law and economics/labour law were even rated ‘1’. Absolutely a top score! We are delighted with this. But we are most proud of all our researchers and the wonderfully inspiring research environment that exists here.  The review committee was very impressed by this. Of course they were aware that we would be showing our best side on 7 and 8 October, when they visited us, but they also said: such a good atmosphere, this enthusiasm, is impossible to just conjure up. You either have it, or you don’t. And we’ve got it at Leiden!"

There are certain things requiring attention. Can you say what is at the top of the agenda?

"We live in a busy world and that’s certainly the case at our faculty. There’s always lots to do, so it is important that we make the right choices.  And this does not mean a choice for more research and therefore less teaching, because the two go hand in hand. But we must keep a critical eye on the administrative processes surrounding research and teaching and we have to operate together efficiently in this area. In addition, it is important that every researcher thinks strategically about their own personal publication strategy and research profile. Academic scholars have the tendency to say yes to all requests, but it is usually better to make considered choices. In this context, we want to specifically work on increasing the amount of grant applications submitted by our faculty, for example a vidi or vici or an ERC grant. There are many staff who want to take the initiative here and we will certainly encourage this."

Do these points of attention concern all law research in the Netherlands, or do they just apply to Leiden?

"Each faculty has its own priorities. Our faculty is a broad faculty and this is reflected in the research output. The combination of highly doctrinal, mono-disciplinary research that is carried out in Leiden is also special as it allows for multi-disciplinary research, for example through cooperation between the departments of economics, criminology and sociology of law. We want to use such combinations to learn from each other in the area of research methods, publication strategies and grant applications. This can help us to advance in the areas of data science and technology."

What will your researchers notice concerning this in 2017?

"The first development connected to this is the RAF, the new Research Assessment Framework, which has already become effective and which pays a lot of attention to the clarification of research plans. Researchers are admitted to a programme, become a fellow, on the basis of their research plans. In this way, we want to encourage researchers to become more strategic in their way of thinking about their profile and their method of publication. Besides this, we are going to start setting up grant clubs, for example a vidi or ERC ‘class’, where researchers can work together on proposals in a stimulating group setting.  This can be within the faculty, but can also be with other faculties and also together with public bodies. Our presence in The Hague will also benefit us in this regard."

What will you miss now this ‘megaproject’ has been completed for the coming six years

"I will miss the amazing feeling of pride and positive energy that prevailed throughout the two-day visit: young researchers who talked with passion about their research, Programme Coordinators who together with fellows have carried out research in the past 7 years in an impressive manner. And we know what the outcome was: words of praise from the review committee."

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