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Artikel

Access_open Linking Legal Scenarios to Empirical Data

Process-Tracing as a Methodology in Law

Journal Law and Method, September 2018
Authors Simone Schroff
AbstractAuthor's information

    Different legal rules can lead to the same observable outcome, making it difficult to identify the most influential rule. This article addresses this gap by focusing on how competing explanatory theories derived from a doctrinal analysis can be assessed using a methodology called process-tracing. One of process-tracing’s main uses is to link explanatory theories to empirical evidence, permitting an assessment of causal mechanisms’ practical impact in comparison to each other. This article demonstrates the potential and practical implementation of process-tracing in the context of empirical legal research. In addition to the core characteristics of process-tracing, the paper clarifies when process-tracing can add to a doctrinal analysis and the requirements which have to be met. Furthermore, the process of linking doctrinal work with empirical evidence relying on process-tracing is shown, using the example of copyright ownership in the broadcasting sector. As a result, this paper demonstrates the added value of a process-tracing analysis carried out in addition to doctrinal work, in particular the insights into industry practice it generates.


Simone Schroff
Ph.D., University of Plymouth, United Kingdom and Institute for Information Law, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    Legal doctrinal scholarship engages with the problems of legal practice: it systematizes, comments on, evaluates and debates what goes on in law. These activities do not occur in a vacuum: they are embedded in scholarly traditions and theories. This paper discusses the role of the theoretical frameworks used in legal research and has two related aims. First, it aims to provide some practical conceptualizations and guidelines regarding theoretical and normative frameworks that are useful to understand and conduct legal research. Second, it aims to investigate the relationships between different kinds of normative frameworks and their relationship to empirical work. In the second part, an argument is made for a pragmatist understanding of the interplay between normative theorizing and empirical study. How do these work together in judgments about the state of the law?


Sanne Taekema
Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam; taekema@law.eur.nl.

    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

    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).
Artikel

Access_open Source-usage within doctrinal legal inquiry: choices, problems, and challenges

Journal Law and Method, June 2014
Keywords methodological challenges, doctrinal legal inquiry, source-usage, methodology, method
Authors Mr. Marnix Vincent Roderick Snel LLM, MA
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article provides an overview of the methodological challenges that scholars are confronted with in relation to use of legislation, case law and literature commentaries within doctrinal legal inquiry. Therefore it employs a systematic literature review and a supplementary explorative expert-consultation among legal scholars of Tilburg University. Although the scope of the research is still limited, it shows that doctrinal legal inquiry is subjected to more and other methodological challenges surrounding the source-usage than one might expect. This insight may contribute to the further development of the meta-discipline ’law and methodology’ and simultaneously allows for more methodological awareness among doctrinal legal scholars.


Mr. Marnix Vincent Roderick Snel LLM, MA
Marnix Snel is a PhD researcher at the Research Group ‘Methodology of law and legal scholarship’ at Tilburg University. I thank prof. Rob van Gestel, prof. Jan Vranken and Dr. Arie-Jan Kwak for their comments on earlier draft version of this article.
Artikel

Access_open Empirical Facts: A Rationale for Expanding Lawyers’ Methodological Expertise

Journal Law and Method, 2013
Keywords empirical facts, research methods, legal education, social facts
Authors Terry Hutchinson
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article examines the importance of the social evidence base in relation to the development of the law. It argues that there is a need for those lawyers who play a part in law reform (legislators and those involved in the law reform process) and for those who play a part in formulating policy-based common law rules (judges and practitioners) to know more about how facts are established in the social sciences. It argues that lawyers need sufficient knowledge and skills in order to be able to critically assess the facts and evidence base when examining new legislation and also when preparing, arguing and determining the outcomes of legal disputes. For this reason the article argues that lawyers need enhanced training in empirical methodologies in order to function effectively in modern legal contexts.


Terry Hutchinson
Terry Hutchinson is Associate Professor, Law School at QUT Faculty of Law.
Artikel

Access_open Alternative Methodologies: Learning Critique as a Skill

Journal Law and Method, 2013
Keywords governmentality, methodology, method, skill
Authors Bal Sokhi-Bulley
AbstractAuthor's information

    How can we teach critical legal education? The article tackles this key question by focusing on the role of methodology in legal education and research. I argue that critical legal education requires marketing methodology as a ‘skill’, thereby freeing it from what students and researchers in Law often view as the negative connotations of ‘theory’. This skill requires exploring ‘alternative methodologies’ – those critical perspectives that depart from legal positivism and which Law traditionally regards as ‘peripheral’. As an example, the article explores the Foucauldian concept of governmentality as a useful methodological tool. The article also discusses the difference between theory, methodology and method, and reviews current academic contributions on law and method(ology). Ultimately, it suggests a need for a ‘revolt of conduct’ in legal education. Perhaps then we might hope for students that are not docile and disengaged (despite being successful lawyers) but, rather, able to nurture an attitude that allows for ‘thinking’ (law) critically.


Bal Sokhi-Bulley
Bal Sokhi-Bulley is Lecturer in Law atQueen’s University in Belfast.
Diversen

Access_open Academic Learning

Asking Questions and Judging Answers

Journal Law and Method, 2013
Authors Lisanne Groen
Author's information

Lisanne Groen
Lisanne Groen is assistant professor at VU University Amsterdam.
Artikel

Access_open Exciting Times for Legal Scholarship

Journal Law and Method, 2012
Keywords legal methodology, law as an academic discipline, ‘law and …’-movements, legal theory, innovative and multiform legal scholarship
Authors Jan Vranken
AbstractAuthor's information

    Until recently, legal-dogmatic research stood at the undisputed pinnacle of legal scientific research. The last few years saw increasing criticism, both nationally and internationally, levelled at this type of research or at its dominant role. Some see this as a crisis in legal scholarship, but a closer look reveals a great need for facts, common sense, and nuance. Critics usually base their calls for innovation on a one-dimensional and flawed image of legal-dogmatic research. In this article, the author subsequently addresses the various critical opinions themselves and provide an overview of the innovations that are proposed. He concludes that there are a lot of efforts to innovate legal scholarship, and that the field is more multiform than ever, which is a wonderful and unprecedented state of affairs. This multiformity should be cherished and given plenty of room to develop and grow, because most innovative movements are still fledgling and need time, sometimes a lot of time, to increase in quality. It would be a shame to nip them in the bud now, merely because they are still finding their way. In turn, none of these innovative movements have cause to disqualify legal-dogmatic research, as sometimes happens (implicitly), by first creating a straw-man version of the field and then dismissing it as uninteresting or worse. That only polarises the discussion and gains us nothing. Progress can only be achieved through cooperation, with an open mind towards different types of legal research and a willingness to accept a critical approach towards their development. In the end, the only criterion that matters is quality. All types of research are principally subject to the same quality standards. The author provides some clarification regarding these standards as well.


Jan Vranken
Jan Vranken is hoogleraar Methodologie van het privaatrecht aan de Universiteit van Tilburg.
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