Researcher Development Initiative (RDI), 2005 - 2010

Building Research Capacity in Empirical Socio-Legal Research

01/01/08 - 31/03/10


The programme sprung from a concern that capacity issues were having an impact on empirical socio-legal research (ESLR). It sought to enhance capacity through development of the skills of individual researchers and through the promotion of interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary approaches. ‘Community building’ was integral to the scheme which promoted networking and collaboration throughout. A network of partners from a range of disciplines and institutions actively supported the scheme and its participants.


The scheme was targeted at four broad groups:


  • Doctoral Researchers engaged in socio-legal projects with an empirical element
  • Early career researchers in academic and research-only posts.
  • Mid-career ‘switchers’ who have an established position and wish to enhance their skills in ESLR (supervisors, mentors and independent researchers)
  • Researchers employed outside of the academic sector in private and NGO organisations.


The programme was designed to support participants to overcome identified ‘barriers’ to development in the area of empirical legal method. It combined training in specialised research skills and techniques with broader skills in the area of project development and career development.


The scheme took the form of six workshops that ran from September 2008 – December 2009, hosted at institutions throughout England. The workshops were designed to follow the life course of a research projects and covered the following areas:


  • Showcasing Real Life ESLR
  • Methods & Approaches in ESLR
  • Imagining and Demystifying ESLR
  • Managing ESLR - Funding & Project Management
  • Incorporating ESLR in Teaching & Learning
  • Engaging Stakeholders & Users in ESLR.


Principal Investigator:  Professor Louise Ackers, University of Liverpool

Co-Investigator: Professor Fiona Beveridge, University of Liverpool

Contact Details

Professor Louise Ackers,
University of Liverpool