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Research indicates that postgraduate research students, and particularly those researching in law, feel isolated socially and academically from one another, and from scholarly life. Postgraduate research students are now more globally connected because of technology. Yet opportunities to connect with colleagues locally, to share and reflect on research findings, methods and experiences are insufficient. This paper reports on the preliminary stages of a project led by legal and criminological scholars to establish a postgraduate student network that is interdisciplinary, interfaculty and cross institutional in structure with a specific focus on ‘crim*’ related studies including criminology, criminal law and criminal justice. The primary objective of the Network is to enhance student engagement with research cultures within and beyond their own faculties.
The paper begins by considering the pedagogical issues around developing such a Network. An absence of research on postgraduate research pedagogy is noted, particularly research on group-based learning strategies. Drawing on existing educational literature, the authors identify six pedagogical grounds that may inform development of the Network: (i) skills acquisition, (ii) perseverance to completion, (iii) as adjunct to supervision, (iv) an additional site for learning, (v) socialisation and identity formation, and (vi) countering the disciplinary isolation and methodological limitations of the law.
The second half of the paper reaches beyond the pedagogical literature and presents a survey of existing postgraduate research group strategies locally and internationally, particularly those directed at the learning needs of crim* students more specifically.
The authors conclude that developing a crim* group that is pedagogically sound requires a reconceptualization of the broader pedagogical and institutional framing of postgraduate research education (particularly in law).