Robert's research interests cover the whole of the constitutional reform agenda. He has written widely on devolution in Scotland, Wales and the English regions; freedom of information; parliamentary reform and Lords reform; a British bill of rights; referendums; electoral reform; the Crown and royal prerogative; constitutional watchdogs; and the process of constitutional reform. He is a great believer in collaborative research and likes to build research teams around projects, and to write multi-authored books rather than monographs.
He was director of the 1999-2005 Leverhulme funded research programme into the Dynamics of Devolution, which had 12 projects and 25 partners. He continued with some of the same partners to direct an ESRC and government funded project monitoring the latest developments in devolution (2006-2008). His last collaborative venture with 20 partners was forecasting the shape of the constitution in 2020, published as Constitutional Futures Revisited. Following the introduction of freedom of information in 2005, he studied the impact of Freedom of Information on Whitehall (ESRC 2007-2009), and on local government (ESRC 2009-2011), and on Parliament (Leverhulme 2009-2011).
In anticipation of the 2010 election, Robert led a project in 2009 on Multi-Party Government, and then a study of the new coalition government (2011), and of Special Advisers (2012). From 2011 to 2014 he led a big collaborative research project into the Politics of Judicial Independence. His latest research projects involve work on the Monarchy (the Accession and Coronation oaths, and a comparative study of European monarchies); on Pre-Appointment Scrutiny hearings by departmental Select Committees; and the role of Non-Executive Directors on Whitehall boards.