Research Conception


Conception for the operation of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies

Fruzsina Gárdos-Orosz 

1.The Status of the Institute for Legal Studies

The Institute for Legal Studies which has been integrated into the structure of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre for Social Sciences on 1 January 2012 is one of the most prominent scientific fields with long a tradition in Hungarian jurisprudence. The Institute produces research results that attract the attention of international scientific circles; furthermore, they contribute to domestic and international scientific thinking and the life of society.

Recently, the system of the legal research has changed in terms of its focus as publishing in international peer-reviewed or impact factor journals has become a priority, and project-based science organization has gained significant ground over its previous career model. The role of tender offer funds is significant in compensating the reduction of the public funds since the accession to the European Union application resources have become available based on a completely new set of requirements. This chang has not left the work of the Institute untouched and has created new challenges.

The Center for Social Sciences addresses some of these challenges by the establishment of rules which apply to all of its institutes. It is the director’s responsibility to effectively represent the perspectives of the Institute for Legal Studies, including the presentation and representation of disciplinary specificities in central regulatory and individual decision-making matters at the meetings of the governing board and the performance review committee, at the scientific councils meeting or other proposing forums. Moreover, it is also the task of the director to make a constructive contribution to the successful operation of the Centre for Social Sciences and to the implementation of central scientific programs.

According to the Rules of Organization and Operation, the task of the Institute is to conduct researches in the field of law, especially in the fields of constitutional law, criminal sciences, civil law, human rights, European law, legal philosophy, sociology of law, public administrative law, public and private international law; to reflect, in addition to the traditional branches of law, certain legal problems arising from scientific and technological progress; furthermore to contribute to solving domestic and international legislative tasks and to cooperate with domestic and international institutions of law. It is also the task of the Institute to monitor the domestic, foreign and international legal practice, the activities of the major human rights’ institutions; moreover, to explore and to interpret the tendencies that determine the examined areas.


2. Scientific Strategy

Consciously shaping the profile of the Institute is of supreme importance for the Institute.

The primary intention is to avoid that the research of the Institute should develop entirely according to external circumstances, the ongoing applications and the current possibilities for research. It is important that the researchers of the Institute – with the agreement of the director – discuss and design the research directions for  three-year period and they consciously organize the researches in various fields of law around socially significant, comprehensive research issues. Therefore, the research strategy may become more balanced with complementary areas such as sociology of law, legal theory, legal dogmatics and other fields of law.

The Institute will be most effective and visible in the field of basic research by carrying out research that holds the promise of direct social and economic utility, but it also conducts researches that are clearly distinct from applied research which leads tp significant, well-utilized results.

The Institute allocates external resources to projects with such a wide range of basic research sub-tasks, and the researchers have the opportunity to obtain several funding schemes of the National Research, Development and Innovation Office, as well as other tenders and scholarships.

Nowadays, the Institute is characterized by a strong predominance of research in the fields of public law, constitutional law, the history of public law and the sociology of law, particularly on the output side, but it has also made significant progress in the areas of criminal law, international law and European Union law. In the field of private law, next to the ‘school-building’ activities of our Professors Emeriti, there is a great emphasis on the work of organizing scientific endeavours.

As international publishing plays a primary role in the institutional strategy, it is worth bearing in mind that the Institute conducts internationally relevant researches. This endeavour is also encouraged by the performance appraisal and promotion system of the Centre for Social Sciences. It is a priority to be the centrum, the participant, the initiator or the partner in scientific projects that may be of interest abroad, and some of our financing also comes from foreign, international or EU sources. The Institute has significant international connections, our researchers participate intensively in international scientific societies and in the editing of journals, the Institute receives several invitations each year to participate in international projects.

However, the current focus on international publishing must not lead to the marginalization and bypassing of domestic, Hungarian-language works, especially since the Institute also performs public tasks as part of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Nor can it be ignored that jurisprudence, despite all its international implications, remains a national jurisprudence in the 21st century. Therefore, the scientific results that can be successfully presented on the international platform must be made available in Hungarian as well, as this is the only way they can reach the majority of the Hungarian professional audience and thus serve the development of Hungarian science. It is important that the various legal professions (such as advocates, judges, prosecutors, civil servants, etc.) can also access these results. Some of the legal researches are aimed not only at the professional public, but also at the Hungarian society as well in order to promote science and disseminate scientific knowledge, for example to strengthen legal awareness as it is directly related to the application of law and thus affects the whole society. This is complemented by the indisputable fact that in most fields of law there are aspects that might be interesting for the domestic professional audience but might be fundamentally irrelevant for foreigners.


3. Tender and Science Funding Strategy

Project management is currently dominant in research funding. This is partly good since it favours decentralization and the results of research appear in the form of innovative results. On the other hand, the leadership and management model of the Institute for Legal Studies is not tailored to project management – if only for disciplinary reasons – which would require a different way of working. In other words, the need for flexibility in project formation and the organizational rigidity of the institutional structure can also weaken each other. The right balance needs to be found in this matter. The Institute for Legal Studies encourages its co-workers to obtain externally funded tenders that contribute to the budget of the Centre for Social Sciences, even though some part of its activities does not take place in such a project system.  In many cases, its research activities do not require the involvement of an external source, and in many cases the researcher or the research group obtains an external source to finance their research, which takes the form of an individual scholarship, commission fee or book publishing and conference support. Compared to other social sciences, a significant part of legal research is not costly, it does not always require special resources, and it can be done independently. Normative thinking, conceptual-logical economic/state/society organizing thinking and the work with analytical, historical or comparative methodology often consumes only our time as our only irreplaceable resource.


4. Publication strategy

The number of publications in the Institute (measured by the index of the number of the researchers) can be considered above average, so it meets the expectations related to scientific research. The activity of the Institute for Legal Studies is mainly reflected in the publications, so the aim should be to orient younger researchers towards prestigious publications as well. This means that it is necessary to clarify which are the preferred journals in each field of law, and it is sensible to sell the high level of scientific results achieved by researchers in this market as a successful publication will lead to greater scientific impact.

Participation in international projects, research collaborations and conferences are important in themselves and in terms of publication and should be further encouraged as well. During international scientific collaborations, the scientific problems that may be formed in the course of common thinking may become more visible.

To improve the quality of publications, the opportunity for workshop discussion is open to all researchers of the Institute. Foreign language publication is not limited to English only. The most well-known European journals are not always in English, so we also support publication in French, German or even Italian.

It is extremely important to maintain the quality of the Institute's publishing activities. In a strict sense, this means editing Hungarian and foreign language journals and monographs. Acta Juridica Hungarica - the Hungarian Journal of Legal Studies is our regionally recognized, indexed, English-language legal journal, which is published in a double blind peer review system by Akadémiai Kiadó. Our Hungarian-language journal, “Állam- és Jogtudomány”, also submits the received studies to a double-blind peer review, the journal issues are published by the Centre for Social Studies. Our electronic journal, MTA Law Working Paper is waiting for manuscripts of excellence in Hungarian legal studies on its electronic interface. The Institute also places great emphasis on the maintenance of its own series of monographs which provides an opportunity to publish an excellent basic research monograph each year. Furthermore, we publish a blog and a bi-weekly Legal Newsletter with current news about the profession for the society and the wider professional audience.


5. Organizational and Human Resources Strategy

Based on the principle of subsidiarity, the scientific department is the basic unit of institutional work. The heads of the department have a particularly important role in this structure as they have to organize the work of the departments and provide professional supervision and adequate technical assistance.

The age pyramid of the Institute is relatively balanced, next to the 10 research assistants and young researchers, the Institute has 15 co-workers, 11 senior staff members, 4 scientific advisers and 3 Professors Emeriti. This composition is a solid basis for achieving significant scientific results. It is also important for the Institute to bring together and help young researchers under the age of 35, and this can ideally be achieved within the departments. It can be very important for doctoral and postdoctoral researchers to follow the work of more experienced colleagues and to get involved in their work, to learn the working methods that are essential for a successful research career.

It is extremely important that research fellowships for foreign researchers who spend a short period of six months or one year with us (like the Pázmány-JTI Fellowship or Fulbright) involve publications belonging to the research profile of the Institute, and that foreign colleagues participate as full members of the Institute at various English-language events, workshops, discussions so as to take full advantage of their presence.

In the Institute for Legal Studies one of the main elements of the management practice is to develop the employees and make substantive proposals for filling research positions. In this area, it is necessary to ensure that colleagues from the fields of criminal law, civil law, administrative law and labour law are able to contribute to the realisation of common research objectives that are of professional (both national and international) and of social importance; moreover, whether it is an individual or group research, they can produce results in their fields and present research projects that could be of inescapable value in the field of law.


6. Collaboration Strategy: The Institute in the Centre for Social Studies

The Institute for Legal Studies was integrated into the structure of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre for Social Sciences in the 1st of January 2012, which fundamentally determined operation of the Institute. The new organizational form is undoubtedly more responsive to the new challenges posed by the scientific society. This means, for example, that the Centre for Social Studies provides support for multidisciplinary research that exploits synergies between the institutes or for the submission of European Union applications, and its incentive system supports publication in impact journals and participation in conferences with the mobility fund. These are very important results and opportunities; researchers should be encouraged to take advantage of them. However, in many cases legal work conducted using traditional methods may not receive sufficient recognition. The Centre for Social Studies – and thus the Institute – is not based on the project-based science organization typical of some western countries or the United States, nor does it work independently of the customer's needs in the "ivory castle" of science. It must simultaneously carry out the obligatory public tasks and the scientific activity envisaged in an entrepreneurial manner.

It is therefore necessary to strengthen the synergistic effects of research center integration by finding a place in law in the field of multidisciplinary research, without this being to the detriment of the cultivation of the domestic discipline. It is a very important aim that the integration does not take place in such a way that colleagues in law start to cultivate other disciplines, but in such a way that the results of legal research carried out using traditional and newer legal methods enrich the joint research. Furthermore, it is also important to pay attention to fields of law, such as Roman law, international law or criminal legal history ,which are not currently involved in any major external funded projects or any projects of the Centre for Social Sciences (for example ‘Inkubátor’).


Research Conception (HU) 2013–2015

Research conception (HU) 2016–2017