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Institutions for Conflict Resolution Skills Lab on 29 March 2022

PhD students in the Institutions for Conflict Resolution (COI) research group attended a PhD Skills Lab to develop empirical legal publication expertise.

On Tuesday, 29 March 2022, the Institutions for Conflict Resolution (COI) research group at Leiden University, which is part of the Dutch National Sector Plan for Law, organised a skills lab for its PhD candidates. During this lab, we discussed and practiced the skill of writing empirical legal research papers, as many of the COI PhD projects have an empirical component. The session was led by Jessie Pool and Niek Strohmaier from the Empirical Legal Studies (ELS) research group in Leiden, the other Sector Plan theme on which the Law Faculty at Leiden University focuses, thus fostering collaboration between the two research groups.

During the first part of the session, we discussed a classic piece by Bem (2004) on writing empirical journal articles, as well as types of outlets for empirical legal research projects. For example, can you combine both the empirical aspects and the legal aspects of a study in one paper or might it sometimes be better to split these? What are the dos and don’ts when targeting social science journals or law journals, respectively? The discussion then moved on to paper structure, addressing differences between the structure of social science papers versus legal doctrinal papers. Subsequently, we focused on each part of the paper separately: what goes into an Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion or Conclusion section, and how do you write a good abstract? The entire session was highly interactive, allowing ample time for questions and discussions, which continued afterwards over drinks and bites.

This skills lab is one of the two special editions of the COI PhD labs, which take place monthly. During regular labs, PhD candidates within COI at Leiden University present their research and provide each other with feedback. In addition to these regular lab sessions, we organise yearly skills labs (like the session on 29 March) and overarching labs. During the overarching lab, which will take place on 22 June this year, all COI PhDs present their research to each other as well as senior researchers connected to COI in Leiden. The aim of this overarching lab is both to provide each other with feedback and to reflect on the overarching COI research questions that connect the different PhD projects.

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