David Buil Gil
Why did you choose to complete your research degree at Manchester's School of Law?
The Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCCJ), located in the well-known Manchester School of Law, has established an international reputation for contributing to first-rate criminological research and bringing together international academics in an engaging environment. Also, various funding opportunities are available for local and international students willing to undertake their doctoral thesis at The University of Manchester.
But undoubtedly the most significant reason that brought me to Manchester was the opportunity of having my thesis co-supervised by Prof Juanjo Medina and Prof Natalie Shlomo, two of the most influential academics in Quantitative Criminology and Social Statistics, respectively.
What's your current research about? Why did you choose this topic?
I am applying small area estimation techniques to produce estimates of variables of criminological interest, such as worry about crime or police legitimacy, at low geographical level. Victimisation surveys are one of the most important sources of information to analyse crime-related variables in criminology. Unfortunately, most available victimisation surveys are designed to be representative of large areas, and these do not allow mapping variables at a low geographical level. In England, for example, the Crime Survey for England and Wales suffers from small sample sizes at neighbourhood level.
In order to map variables recorded from victimisation surveys at small area level without the need to record new data, indirect model-based small area estimation approaches are helpful to produce estimates of adequate precision. Small area estimation techniques make use of already existing survey data and introduce models to borrow strength from related and neighbouring areas. We show that model-based small area estimation techniques are a potential tool for low area level mapping in criminology.
What do you most enjoy about studying here?
The campus life at The University of Manchester is engaging and exciting, where plenty of academic and cultural events allow students and staff to enhance their social life and their career prospects. I particularly enjoy taking part in postgraduate activities organised by the School of Law and the School of Social Sciences, such as the CCCJ Work in Progress seminars or the Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (CMIST) Lunchtime seminars, where postgraduate research students and staff gather in friendly environments to discuss academic life and research opportunities. I have had the opportunity to meet not only first-rate academics in such events, but also wonderful people who are my friends now.
In addition, Manchester is a modern, cosmopolitan and active city where you can find the perfect work-life balance.
Have you been involved in any of the School of Law's societies or research centres, or attended events?
I usually take part in activities and seminars organised by the Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCCJ), as well as other activities organised by the Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (CMIST).
Also, I am currently in charge of organising the CCCJ’s PGR Work in Progress seminars, a monthly discussion session where one postgraduate student and one member of the staff discuss their research projects in an informal but engaging environment. Having the opportunity of being a Teaching Assistant in Making Sense of Criminological Data and Research Assistant in a project led by Dr Reka Solymosi has encouraged me to participate in academic activities organised by the School.
I am also part of the University’s R User Group and member of the University and College Union.
What are your career aspirations after graduation?
I plan to apply for research and teaching jobs in academia. In the future, I see myself as an academic researching new methodologies to analyse attitudes towards crime and the criminal justice system. Also, I like travelling and would like to experience research in other countries, both within and outside Europe.
If you could name one experience that you will take away with you from your time at Manchester, what would it be?
After some time, Manchester feels like home. And feeling like home is probably the best experience you can have when you start a new life abroad. In The University of Manchester I have met amazing people who are not only my colleagues, but my friends. Also, Manchester is known for its great live music and buoyant night life.
What advice would you give to new research students at the Law School?
Doing a PhD is not an easy journey. However, if someone decides to take this way, it probably means that he or she is not the type of person who seeks easy paths. The PhD is a long journey where each person needs to find his or her own way, but it does not mean having to do it alone.
My supervisors, colleagues, family and friends have been an essential part of my PhD experience. Also, there are loads of resources that the University and the School offer to research students to sort out theoretical, methodological, technological and even personal issues that may arise during your years in Manchester.