Law and Method

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    In this article I argue that the major issue in taxonomies of interdisciplinary research is the problem of authority. In a project on the needs of Aboriginal Australians in inheritance, involving interdisciplinary research using law (in both common law and customary law form) and anthropology, issues of translateability and truth/validity arose. Issues for the Aboriginal people included problems of identifying the correct kin, dealing with the body, and protecting customary law information and secrecy, all matters which the customary law could handle but which were not recognised by Australian common law. Because the characterization of these matters in law is often characterized as a problem of authority the article explores the various different ways forms of authority in law and anthropology exist and how they might clash. Because the anthropology concerned was about Aboriginal Customary Law there seemed to be a double problem of authority which needed to be resolved in order to ensure that the connections between the disciplines were clear and the inheritance issues could be resolved.

Prue Vines
Professor, Director of First Year Studies, Co-Director, Private Law Research & Policy Group Faculty of Law, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Email: p.vines@unsw.edu.au.

    Sensitive interviews involve emotionally difficult topics which require participants to face issues that are deeply personal and possibly distressing. This paper draws together reflections concerning how researchers manage the challenges of conducting sensitive interviews, including the author’s own reflections concerning interviewing clinical negligence claimants. First, it examines the ethical guidelines that regulate sensitive research, and the challenges of obtaining informed consent and maintaining confidentiality. Ethical guidelines, however, provide limited assistance for ensuring the emotional care of research participants, and we also consider challenges that are not usually formally regulated. These include preparing for the interview, and then ensuring the emotional care of participants both during and after the interview itself. Sensitive research also raises deeper ethical issues concerning the negotiation of relations between researcher and participant, especially when this relationship is unequal. Finally, while previous research has generally focused on the need to take emotional care of research participants, less attention has been given to the emotional needs of researchers. It is argued that support systems for researchers are too often ad hoc, and that providing support is often not a priority of granting bodies, grant holders or supervisors, and that formal systems need to be put in place.

Angela Melville
Flinders Law School, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia. Email: angela.melville@flinders.edu.au.

Darren Hincks
Flinders Law School, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia.

    Legal novices are generally not very well educated in the do’s and don’ts of empirical legal research. This article lays out the general principles and discusses the most important stumbling blocks on the way forward. The presentation starts at the formulation of a research question. Next, the methodology of descriptive research (operationalization and measurement, sampling and selection bias) is briefly addressed. The main part of the article discusses the methodology of explanatory research (causal inference, experimental and quasi-experimental research designs, statistical significance, effect size). Medical malpractice law is used as a central source of illustration.

Ben C.J. van Velthoven
Associate professor of Law and Economics at Leiden Law School. I wish to thank Nienke van der Linden, Ali Mohammad and Charlotte Vrendenbargh from Leiden Law School and two anonymous reviewers and the editors of this journal for helpful comments on earlier drafts.

    With more and more information disclosed online and with open-access policies on the rise, legal academic research is becoming more accessible. The potential impact of this development is enormous, particularly in areas or jurisdictions where offline information is scarce and where access to subscription-based journals or books is limited or non-existing. Because the current literature lacks materials that guide researchers who conduct legal research while relying on open access, this article discusses where and how to find and select relevant academic books, journal articles, and working papers in the open access world. The resources, selection tools, and search strategies explained in this article particularly focus on finding open access sources in English. Consequently, this article assists researchers who rely on materials that are freely accessible because they lack access to books and to subscription-based journals outside of their own jurisdiction. The section on search strategy is relevant for researchers who aim to identify sources in an effective and efficient way.

Gijs van Dijck
Tilburg University. The author thanks Lukas Dziedzic, Marie-Claire Menting, Zihan Niu, Marnix Snel, Eric Tjong Tjin Tai and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on a previous version of this article.Parts of section 2 and section 3 can also be found in Gijs van Dijck, ‘Eerste hulp bij juridisch bronnenonderzoek: waar te zoeken en hoe relevante bronnen te selecteren op het internet?’ (2015) Surinaams Juristenblad 29 (in Dutch). For a general overview of research strategies, see https://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/content/skill-guides (last accessed 26 April 2016).