NWO-initiative Empirical Legal Studies up and running

NSCR has initiated a national project called Empirical Legal Studies (ELS) to improve the use of empirical methods in the law discipline. The initiative applies to criminal law, civil law, and administration law. NWO has provided a budget to NSCR to run the project. Its particular aim is to have science and legal practice working together in setting up the ELS initiative.

Much has happened in the last couple of months. A steering committee has been established, chaired by Fred Hammerstein (former judge Supreme Court). Other members of the steering committee are: Prof. Dineke de Groot (VU University Amsterdam), Prof. Jan Vranken (Tilburg University), Prof. Bert Marseille (University of Groningen), Dr. Monika Smit (Research and Documentation Centre; WODC), Prof. Arno Akkermans (VU University Amsterdam), Dr. Nieke Elbers (NSCR) and Dr. Marijke Malsch (NSCR). On the 22nd of March, the Council of Law Deans has indicated to support the initiative.

On 1st of April, Nieke Elbers ( started working at NSCR, as a postdoc, running the ELS initiative. She will be the contact person for various ELS activities. She will write a couple of reviews about what kind of ELS research is being conducted in The Netherlands and abroad and about what the knowledge gaps are. She will closely collaborate with the various participants.

On the 8th of April, a national brainstorm meeting took place to kick off the initiative. Several invitees from the law sciences and legal practice exchanged views about what they considered important ELS topics, which direction we should go, and what the needs are for ELS research and education. The participants considered it very important that a call for grant proposals will push the initiative forward.

On the 11th of April, the Ius Commune research school and the WODC organised a meeting about ELS education for PhD researchers and other scholars. A tripartite initiative of Ius Commune, WODC, and NSCR will be building a network to map existing ELS education and to develop new ELS education.

In Autumn, the results of the empirical legal studies research, under which a review of Dutch ELS research, will be presented during a national conference. The conference will eventually result in a Research Agenda.

About dr. Nieke Elbers

Nieke Elbers is a postdoc researcher at the NSCR since 2016. She is an expert in the field of victimology, procedural justice, and alternative dispute resolution such as mediation and restorative justice. Since 2006, she conducts research on the impact of legal procedures on the wellbeing of litigants. She is interested in how professionals can contribute to victim empowerment. She uses a multidisciplinary approach. She graduated at Maastricht University (Bachelor and Master in Psychology), Sussex University (Erasmus scholarship), VU University Amsterdam (PhD law faculty), and University of Toronto (traineeship Work Disability Prevention). After her PhD, she worked for 2 years at the University of Sydney (NWO Rubicon grant). In her research, she closely collaborates with (inter)national academics, policy makers, lawyers and health professionals. Besides her work as a researcher, Nieke is a neighbourhood mediator.

Nieke is a member of the Empirical Legal Studies Cluster.

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