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Human Rights and Public Law Centre PGR Workshop

Workshop report by Katie Morris on Human Rights and Public Law Centre PGR Workshop financed by DCAD Researcher Development Programme (RDP) Conference and Events Grant.

On the 6March 2024, Durham University welcomed postgraduate researchers from eleven institutions to participate in a unique workshop hosted by the Human Rights and Public Law Centre (HRPLC). The event was organised by Katie Morris and Hettie Catley, both of whom are Deputy Directors of the Centre and PhD candidates at Durham Law School. The purpose of the workshop was for participants to receive detailed feedback on a paper on an area of either human rights or public law – operating as two parallel streams organised by Katie and Hettie respectively – with a view to prepare the paper for publication in an academic journal. Thanks to the £250 award from DCAD, a number of travel bursaries were available to participants which supported those without access to funding, including a participant travelling from Prague.

The workshop adopted a paired presentation format, whereby participants were paired based on their research area and/or methodologies. This innovative approach saw each participant present their partner’s paper instead of their own, allowing the author of the paper to see how effective they have communicated their argument. Each author also received guidance from a member of staff at Durham as to how their work could be enhanced before submitting for peer review. Throughout the workshop, participants vocalised their enjoyment of the workshop’s format. The opportunity to receive in depth feedback and questions was noted as a particular highlight for PGRs wishing to test new ideas, in contrast to the traditional panel format which often leaves little time for discussion. Participants also valued the atmosphere of collaboration and mutual support. The workshop also included a presentation and Q&A on publishing by Roger Masterman, Professor at Durham Law School and Joint General Editor of Public Law, which gave participants and the two organisers of the workshop insight into the publishing process and the ‘dos and don’ts’ when submitting papers.

Given the high calibre of papers presented at the workshop and the rich discussions which followed, it is anticipated that a number of publications will emerge as participants incorporate feedback into their papers. Moreover, in light of the success of the format, one can expect the paired presentation approach to be adopted in future events both at Durham and in the institutions represented by participants, demonstrating the significance of this workshop.

Organising the workshop was an immensely valuable experience for both Katie and Hettie. After attending a DCAD workshop on organising conferences, Katie was aware of the challenges involved in putting on such an event including securing a venue, organising catering, and selecting abstracts yet was extremely keen to take on this task. Katie and Hettie fostered a great partnership, learning the importance of timely communication, motivating each other throughout and sharing the workload evenly. Both gained time management skills, balancing workshop organisation alongside their doctoral research and teaching commitments, as well as problem solving in the case of conflicting schedules and technology issues. Overall, organising the workshop was an incredibly rewarding experience and one which all postgraduate students at Durham are encouraged to embark upon themselves. Thank you again DCAD for making the workshop possible.