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Comparative public law in Europe

Strategies for engaging with non-academic actors – Illustrations from a BARSEA project

Participants in the Barsea project “Comparative Public Law and European Legal identity” were asked to develop their strategy for engaging with non-academic actors. From their strategies, answers to three different questions can be flagged up:

  • How to engage with non-academic actors when we undertake research in comparative public law?
  • With whom are we trying to engage?
  • Why do we seek to engage with non-academic actors?

These questions and their answers may be useful for other researchers when designing their onw strategies. Each research project is distinctive, yet sharing information about what we are doing can spark ideas, suggestions or inspiration in one form or another. If you want to share your own ideas for approaching these questions, please do contact us here.

  • How do we try to engage with non-academic actors?
  • Knowing the landscape
  • the policy landscape for decision-making; the key actors in the field, the networks they are operating in, the conferences they are attending => then reaching out to them
  • distinguishing different categories of non-academic actors (with their different interests, strategies) (and tailoring the strategy accordingly)
  • Being useful to the non-academic actors
  • Submissions to consultations (eg Law Commission; House of Commons, Holyrood)
  • Faciliating / coordinating consultation exercise for non-academic actors
  • Helping at (fee-paying) conferences (to have free access) (eg summaries of presentation)
  • Cooperation with think tanks
  • Answering legal / technical questions for non-academic actors
  • Relying on professional experience and contacts (inside)
  • Past professional experience
  • Getting internships / traineeship
  • Contacts with academics having a non-academic role (as judge, in the administration, in the regulatory agencies)
  • Making the non-academic actors get to know us – in very physical / concrete way

        (face-to-face presence => building a relationship of confidence, mutual interests)

  • By making them come to us
  • Invitations of non-academic actors as external speakers to (evening) seminars
  • Organisation of workshops attended by (invited) key non-academic actors
  • By going to them
  • Using our research method as a springboard – Interviews with officials, industry, civil society representatives, judges, mayors, cabinet secretary (pilot, in-depth)
  • Attendance to conferences for professionals (with ways to have free access to expensive conferences)
  • Presenting our work at professional conferences
  • Disseminating information about our research
  • Widely
    • Publishing working papers on research units’ website / blog posts (problem of audience)
    • General newspapers (eg El Pais, De Tijd, Le Soir, The Spectator, The Guardian)
  • In a targetted fashion
    • Reaching out to specific events / organisation, pivotal for our research (eg conference of constitutional courts in Europe)
    • Contacts with network of key actors (eg prosecutors)
    • Targetted email circulation
  • In a variety of languages
  • Medium of communication
  • Short, practice-orientated presentations to the key players, NGOs in the field
  • (E-)Mail exchanges
  • Dissemination of information in the general media
  • Guest blogs managed by key actors (eg Nuffield trust)
  • Developing one’s ow blog
  • NB – nobody mentioned social media such as Twitter network or the Conversation
  • Becoming THE (recognised) expert in the field
  • Answering consultations by non-academic actors
  • Answering call for projects / consulting (eg Dutch Government)
  • Applying for expert panel of European Commission DG (eg DG santé)

° ° °

  • Whom are we trying to engage with?
  • In the UK
  • Law Commission in England and Wales
  • QC
  • Lawyers in practice
  • Information Commissioner’s Office
  • Regulator in telecommunication
  • Healthcare regulator (policy staff; deputy chief economic advisor; senior policy advisor; senior economics advisor)
  • NHS Foundation Trust (head of legal services)
  • NHS England & Wales Litigation Authority
  • NHS Scotland Central Legal Office
  • Departement of Health
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Work and Pensions
  • UK Government Legal Service
  • Scottish Government Legal Service
  • Local authorities
  • Outside the UK

(similar types of entities as in the UK but in different countries + national courts and public prosecutors)

  • Austria
  • Belgium (local authorities, police, human rights ong’s, local authority association, judges)
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • The Netherlands (academics with non academic role – eg in regulators or as judges – local authorities)
  • Poland
  • Spain
  • Sweden (local authorities)
  • Switzerland (local authorities)
  • European institutions
  • European data protection authorities
  • European Commission Directorate-General for Communications networks, content and technology (units B.1 and B.2)
  • European Commission Directorate-General for Trade
  • Court of Justice
  • European Parliament Committee on International Trade
  • Other bodies
  • Public and Commercial services Union
  • Public Service International
  • Corporate Europe Observatory
  • European Public Service Union
  • European network of Prosecutors
  • Conference of Constitutional Courts

° ° °

  • Why do we seek to engage with non-academic actors?
  • Getting information
  • Getting data (qualitative) to back up analysis
  • Understanding how this works in practice (background information), the problems arising in practice
  • Assessing how the legal provisions work in practice (efficiency)
  • Diffusion of research findings / suggestions / recommendations / lessons
  • Dissemination of research
  • Lessons for the countries involved in our research
  • Lessons for third countries (not directly involved in our research)
  • Country-specfic recommendations
  • Our research contributing to / analysing the development of shared ideas, practices and principles across Europe
  • Making a change
  • Influencing changes/reforms in the law, in practice
  • Influencing political debates on key policy choices

Yseult Marique, Essex Law School

October 2016

(Suggested citation: Y.Marique, “Strategies for engaging with non-academic actors – Illustrations from a BARSEA project”, available at


One comment on “Strategies for engaging with non-academic actors – Illustrations from a BARSEA project

  1. Pingback: Report – First workshop – Comparative public law and European Legal Identity – Opportunities and Challenges when engaging with non-academic actors | European Commonwealth ?

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This entry was posted on October 24, 2016 by in Barsea project, Engagement with non academic actors.
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