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    This paper discusses three approaches that can be helpful in the area of comparative rights jurisprudence, oriented in reference to three different kinds of studies that are possible in that area. To a large extent the methods for a comparative legal research depend on the research question and the goal of the researcher. First, a comparative law study may focus on the sociocultural context that led to the elaboration of differences or similarities in the protection of rights. Second, a comparative law approach can be a normative enterprise. It can focus on engaging in a philosophical analysis enlightened by the differences or similarities in the regulation of rights, in order to propose concrete solutions for the regulation of a right. Third, a comparative law approach can combine both elements of the two previously mentioned approaches. The paper discusses the challenges that the researcher faces in her attempt to use these methodologies and how these challenges can be overcome. The law as a normative discipline has its own constraints of justifiability. If what motivates a comparative law study is the search for principles of justice the researcher needs to persuade that her methodological approach serves her aim.


Ioanna Tourkochoriti
School of Law, NUI Galway, Ireland.

    It is often claimed in the media and in political and academic debates that more law nurtures more research, which in turn should generate more information. However, the question researchers are left with is: What does this mean for comparative law and its methods? This paper takes the context of European consumer sales law as an example of the web of rules applicable at both European and national level. In this context, the main idea behind this article is that looking at law and research as data to be built upon and used in further analysis can revolutionise the way in which legal research is understood. This is because current research methods in European consumer sales law fall short of systematically analysing the essential weaknesses of the current regulation system. In this contribution, I argue that the volume of regulation in European consumer law is large enough for it to be considered Big Data and analysed in a way that can harness its potential in this respect. I exemplify this claim with a case-study consisting in the setting up of a Convergence Index that maps the converging effect of harmonizing policies adopted by the European legislator in the field of


Catalina Goanta
Assistant Professor of Private Law, Maastricht Law School, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

    The nexus between religion and law is an important subject of comparative law. This paper, however, finds that the majority of comparative theorists rely on the immanent frame; that legal legitimacy can and should be separated from any objective truth or moral norm. But the fact of the matter is many constitutional systems were founded based on a complicated mixture between the transcendent and immanent frame. Whereas in the immanent frame, human actions are considered self-constituting, in the transcendent frame, human actions were judged in light of their correspondence to higher, divine laws and purposes.
    This article argues that it is not sufficient for comparative theorists to offer a perspective from the immanent frame. Comparative theorists in law and religion should understand at least basic religious doctrines and know how to systematize those doctrines. In other words, comparative theorist of law and religion should work within the transcendent frame. By using a transcendent frame, comparative theorists will be able to excavate the underlying structure of religion, and so they will understand better how theological ideas influence law. Furthermore, this paper will also present a thought experiment in applying the transcendent frame in comparative constitutional studies.


Stefanus Hendrianto
Stefanus Hendrianto is a scholar at Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry. In recent years, he has been a visiting professor at Santa Clara University School of Law (2013-2015) and a guest scholar at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame (2015-2016). He holds a Ph.D. degree from the School of Law, University of Washington, Seattle and LLM degree from Utrecht University, Netherlands, in addition to his LLB degree from Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia.

    Comparative methodology is an important and a widely used method in the legal literature. This method is important inter alia to search for alternative national rules and acquire a deeper understanding of a country’s law. According to a survey of over 500 Dutch legal scholars, 61 per cent conducts comparative research (in some form). However, the methodological application of comparative research generally leaves much to be desired. This is particularly true when it comes to case selection. This applies in particular to conceptual and dogmatic research questions, possibly also allowing causal explanations for differences between countries. This article suggests that the use of an interdisciplinary research design could be helpful, and Hofstede’s cultural-psychological dimensions can offer a solution to improve the methodology of selection criteria.


Dave van Toor
D.A.G. van Toor, PhD LLM BSc works as a researcher and lecturer in Criminal (Procedural) Law and Criminology at the Universität Bielefeld.

    In the last few decades, we have witnessed the renaissance of Comparative Constitutional law as field of research. Despite such a flourishing, the methodological foundations and the ultimate ratio of Constitutional comparative law are still debated among scholars. This article starts from the definition of comparative constitutional law given by one of the most prominent comparative constitutional law scholars in Italy, prof. Bognetti, who defined comparative constitutional law as the main joining ring between the historical knowledge of the modern law and the history of the humankind in general and of its various civil realizations. Comparative constitutional law is in other words a kind of mirror of the “competing vision of who we are and who we wish to be as a political community” (Hirschl), reflecting the structural tension between universalism and particularism, globalization and tradition.
    The article aims at addressing the main contemporary methodological challenges faced by the studies of the field. The article argues that contemporary comparative constitutional studies should address these challenges integrating the classical “horizontal” comparative method with a vertical one - regarding the international and supranational influences on constitutional settings - and fostering an interdisciplinary approach, taking into account the perspective of the social sciences.


Antonia Baraggia
Emile Noël Fellow, Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law & Justice, NYU School of Law and Post-doc Fellow in Constitutional Law, University of Milan. For helpful comments on an earlier draft I am grateful to Luca Pietro Vanoni, Sofia Ranchordas and two anonymous reviewers.

    Both H.L.A. Hart and John Searle repeatedly refer to games in their work on the concept of law and the construction of social reality respectively. We can argue that this is not a coincidence, Hart’s analysis of law as a system of primary and secondary rules bears close resemblances to Searle’s analysis of social reality as a system of regulative and constitutive rules and the comparison to games leads to interesting insights about the ontology of law and legal epistemology. The present article explores both the institutional theory of law that can be devised on the basis of the work of Hart and Searle, the method of analytical philosophy they employ and the particular consequences that can be deduced for legal research from the resulting legal theory.


Arie-Jan Kwak
Dr. A.J. Kwak, Faculty of Law, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.

    The article discusses the contribution of comparative law to the study of federalism and decentralisation. In doing so, it stresses the relevance of the notion of federalising process, as elaborated by Carl J. Friedrich.


Giacomo Delledonne
Postdoctoral fellow in Constitutional Law, Scuola superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy. Email: giacomo. delledonne@gmail.com. Huge thanks go to Sofia Ranchordás and Irene Broekhuijse. I would also like to thank Paolo Carrozza, Paolo Addis, Ilaria Rivera and the anonymous reviewers for their precious suggestions and comments.

    The purpose of this article is to investigate whether the notion of an interest should be taken more seriously than the notion of a right. It will be argued that it should; and not only because it can be just as amenable to the institutional taxonomical structure often said to be at the basis of rights thinking in law but also because the notion of an interest has a more epistemologically convincing explanatory power with respect to reasoning in law and its relation to social facts. The article equally aims to highlight some of the important existing work on the notion of an interest in law.


Geoffrey Samuel
Professor of Law, Kent Law School, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, U.K. This article is a much re-orientated, and updated, adaption of a paper published a decade ago: Samuel 2004, at 263. The author would like to thank the anonymous referees for their very helpful criticisms and observations on an earlier version of the manuscript.

    By conducting methodological assessments, legal researchers decide which lines of inquiry are worth pursuing. Two aspects of such assessments are highlighted in this article. The first aspect is to construct promising lines of inquiry. The second aspect is to clarify provisionally the potential of various promising lines of inquiry. Clarifying and calibrating such potential through discourse with fellow researchers are essential. Increased awareness of how legal researchers decide which lines of inquiry are worth pursuing is vital to contemporary discourse about legal methodology.


Synne Sæther Mæhle
Associate professor, Faculty of Law, University of Bergen, Norway

    Quantitative empirical research into legal decisions must be conducted using statistical tools that are appropriate for the data involved. Court decisions are one example of a domain where the data is intrinsically hierarchical (i.e., multilevel), since decisions are made on individual cases by decision-makers in courts located across geographical (or jurisdictional) areas. Past research into court decisions has often either neglected higher level variables or incorrectly used single-level statistical models to analyze multilevel data. The lack of a clear understanding about when and why multilevel statistical models are required may have contributed to this situation. In this paper, we identify the problems of estimating single-level models on hierarchically structured data, and consider the advantages of conducting multilevel analyses under these circumstances. We use the example of criminal sentencing research to illustrate the arguments for the use of multilevel models and against a single-level approach. We also highlight some issues to be addressed in future sentencing studies.


Mandeep Dhami

Ian Keith Belton

Gijs van Dijck

Sanne Taekema

    This article examines the main assumptions and theoretical underpinnings of case study method in legal studies. It considers the importance of research design, including the crucial roles of the academic literature review, the research question and the use of rival theories to develop hypotheses and the practice of identifying the observable implications of those hypotheses. It considers the selection of data sources and modes of analysis to allow for valid analytical inferences to be drawn in respect of them. In doing so it considers, in brief, the importance of case study selection and variations such as single or multi case approaches. Finally it provides thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses associated with undertaking socio-legal and comparative legal research via a case study method, addressing frequent stumbling blocks encountered by legal researchers, as well as ways to militate them. It is written with those new to the method in mind.


Lisa Webley

    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.

    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.

    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).

    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.
Artikel

Access_open On Experiments in Empirical Legal Research

Journal Law and Method, March 2016
Authors Prof. dr. Kees van den Bos and Mr. Liesbeth Hulst B.Sc., M.Sc.
Abstract

    The current paper presents some observations on experiments in empirical legal research. The paper notes some strengths and weakness of the experimental method. The paper distinguishes between experiments run in controlled laboratory settings and experiments conducted in field settings and notes the different goals the different types of experiments generally have. The paper identifies important stumbling blocks that legal researchers who are new to setting up experiments may face and proposes that focusing the research in a constructive and independent way is important to overcome these problems. The necessity of running multiple studies to overcome other problems are discussed as well. When conducted in this way, experiments may serve an important role in the field of empirical legal studies and may help to further explore the exciting issues of law, society, and human behavior.


Prof. dr. Kees van den Bos

Mr. Liesbeth Hulst B.Sc., M.Sc.

    In this paper, an attempt is made to work out a methodology for comparative legal research, which goes beyond the ‘functional method’ or methodological scepticism.
    The starting point is the idea that we need a ‘toolbox’, not a fixed methodological road map, and that a lot of published, but largely unnoticed, research outside rule and case oriented comparative law offers varying approaches, which could usefully be applied in comparative research. Six methods have been identified: the functional method, the structural one, the analytical one, the law-in-context method, the historical method, and the common core method. Basically, it is the aim of the research and the research question that will determine which methods could be useful. Moreover, different methods may be combined, as they are complementary and not mutually exclusive.This paper focuses on scholarly comparative legal research, not on the use of foreign law by legislators or courts, but, of course, the methodological questions and answers will largely overlap.


Mark Van Hoecke
Professor of Comparative Law at Queen Mary University of London, and Professor of Legal Theory and Comparative Law at Ghent University

    Central to this contribution is the question whether Dworkin’s theory of constructive interpretation as a method of applying law for the judge, can be used as a method of legal-dogmatic research. Constructive interpretation is a method of legal interpretation that aims to find a normative unity in the diversity of rules that characterize a legal system. In order to find an answer to this question, the key elements of Dworkin’s theory are explained and applied to the author’s PhD research. Methodological difficulties that could give rise to problems when applying Dworkin’s theory, are investigated. In the end, the author concludes that since the judge and the scholar use quite the same methods when interpreting law, the principles of constructivism should fit legal research well, even though some aspects of Dworkin’s theory are difficult to operationalize in practice. As a leading notion however, constructivism constitutes a workable method of legal research.


Francisca Christina Wilhelmina de Graaf LL.M
Fanny de Graaf is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, VU University.

mr.dr. Maria Geertruida IJzermans
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