[PhD Workshop] Methodologies for socio-technical approaches to legal research

23 May 2023
  • Starts at: 09:30h
  • Fee: Travel and accommodation costs of the participants should be covered by their organisational or personal budgets.
  • Venue: University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam
  • Organiser: Asser Institute

On 23 May 2023, the Asser Institute/University of Amsterdam is hosting a PhD workshop on methodologies for socio-technical approaches to legal research, in the context of the Asser PhD Programme. The Asser PhD Programme has a tradition of engagement with methodology and research design, especially within the legal field. Building on the experience of last year’s Asser PhD Workshop, this year’s edition will be held on 23rd May 2023 at the University of Amsterdam to foster dialogue and peer-to-peer exchange on developing methodologies for socio-technical approaches to legal research. The workshop is a PhD-led event to provide high-level training on research design and methodologies, providing an open forum for PhDs to discuss the opportunities and challenges of these approaches.

Topic and format of the workshop
Approaches to socio-technical research currently attract much attention in contemporary research agendas. The varied social impacts of technologies remain highly topical, produce vast opportunities for PhD research projects cutting across a variety of fields and disciplines and warrant innovative approaches to research design and methodology.

The workshop will bring together a group of 15 PhD researchers conducting studies at the intersection of law and technology. This includes a variety of approaches to studying law, which can include those that also draw insights from other disciplines. Technologies for the purpose of this workshop are defined broadly, including all systems from the most sophisticated to more rudimentary technical tools.

The workshop aims to cultivate and enhance participants’ understanding of the implications of methodological choices for socio-technical research design and promote dialogue to identify common themes, assumptions and constraints of certain methodological approaches. These issues will be addressed through both expert seminars providing an advanced introduction to socio-technical research design and panel sessions where participants receive expert- and peer-driven feedback on a written piece discussing their research methodologies.

The expert seminars will be given on the following themes: (1) Crash Course in Methods and Methodology for Socio-Technical Approaches to Legal Research; (2) Conceptualising Law in Socio-Technical Research; and (3) How Lawyers Study Technologies.

For the panel sessions, participants will be asked to submit in advance a paper composed of a specific and distinct methodology section (e.g. for their thesis/thesis chapter/an article). During the panel sessions, participants will be divided into smaller groups accompanied by a senior expert moderator. Unlike a traditional workshop format, the authors do not present their own papers. Instead, an experimental presentation format is adopted in which the paper will first be presented by another participant, followed by feedback from a third participant and the expert moderator. Only afterwards will the author of the paper be given the opportunity to respond, clarify, and ask questions. This format is designed to allow each participant to learn from how others understand and interpret their writing style and methodological choices.

Call for Abstracts
We invite the submission of abstracts (between 250 and 600 words) from currently-enrolled PhD students who research law and technology. The abstract should outline the thesis project and/or a specific chapter/article, highlighting in particular the methodological approach used. Abstracts should include a discussion of (1) how the study of law and technology is approached together in the piece; and (2) the specific methodological choices that inform this approach.

Submissions should be sent by email to Klaudia Klonowska and Taylor Woodcock including (1) abstract (max. 600 words), and (2) a short CV or biography. The deadline for submission of abstracts is 15 March 2023.

Submitted abstracts and papers will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and decisions about participation will be made on a first come-first serve basis until all places are filled. Applicants will be informed shortly after the submission deadline about participation.

Selected participants will be required to submit a short piece (max. 2,000 words) that describes their chosen methodology (e.g. for the PhD project/chapter/an article) prior to the workshop, by 15 May 2023. The piece should serve as a ‘methodology section’, situating the discussion of the methodology in the context of the broader thesis/chapter/article. Description of the substance of the research itself should be limited to the extent that it serves to contextualise the broader discussion on methodology. The piece should outline the methods used in the thesis as well as the justification of the methodological choices. For example, the piece could be an extended introduction of a chapter or an article that you are currently writing, so long as the emphasis is primarily on methodology.

Workshop organisers will cover the costs of the pre-workshop dinner and lunch during the workshop. Travel and accommodation costs of the participants should be covered by their organisational or personal budgets.

Preliminary Programme

Pre-Workshop Dinner Monday 22 May 2022

18.00                    Evening networking dinner(Amsterdam, location tbd)


Workshop Day – Tuesday 23 May 2022

9.30-10.00         Registration

10.00-10.30       Opening remarks and introductions

10.30-12.00      Expert Seminar 1 with Dr Emma Nyhan, Lecturer, University of Manchester: Crash Course in Methods and Methodology for Socio-Technical Approaches to Legal Research

12.00-12.45       Lunch Break

12.45-14.45      Parallel Panel Discussions

14.45-15.15       Coffee Break

15.15-16.30      Expert Seminar 2 with Dr Rebecca Mignot-Mahdavi, Lecturer in International Law, University of Manchester: Conceptualizing Law in Socio-Technical Research

16.30-16.45      Short Break

16.45-18.00      Expert Seminar 3 with Dr Ben Wagner, Assistant Professor, TU Delft: How Lawyers Study Technologies

18.00-18.30      Closing reception