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Journal Law and Method x

    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.

    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.

    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

    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

Rob van Gestel
Prof. dr. Rob van Gestel is hoogleraar Theorie en methode van wetgeving aan de Tilburg Law School en voorzitter van de Research Group for Methodology of Law and Legal Research. Hij is tevens redactielid van Recht en Methode.
Artikel

Access_open Een discipline in transitie

Rechtswetenschappelijk onderzoek na de Commissie Koers

Journal Law and Method, 2011
Keywords rechtswetenschappelijk onderzoek, peer review, ranking, methodologie, grand challenges
Authors Carel Stolker
AbstractAuthor's information

    In 2010 verscheen het rapport Kwaliteit & diversiteit van de Commissie Koers die het wetenschappelijk onderzoek van negen Nederlandse juridische faculteiten beoordeelde. De conclusie van het rapport is dat het ‘goed’ gaat met het rechtswetenschappelijk onderzoek in Nederland, maar tegelijkertijd ziet de Commissie ‘een discipline in transitie’. De Commissie dringt er bij de decanen van de faculteiten op aan om veel meer te gaan samenwerken. Als uitgesproken ‘zwak’ benoemt ze het gegeven dat er binnen de discipline geen algemeen gedeelde opvatting bestaat over de wetenschappelijke kwaliteit op grond waarvan onderzoeksresultaten beoordeeld kunnen worden. In deze bijdrage blikt de auteur aan de hand van de bevindingen van de Commissie Koers terug en trekt hij lijnen naar de toekomst. Volgens hem verdient vooral de externe oriëntatie aandacht: de wetenschappelijke verantwoording (peer review, ranking, impactmeting), de steeds belangrijker wordende maatschappelijke verantwoording, en de thematisering van het juridische onderzoek (de Europese ‘grand challenges’ en de Nederlandse topsectoren).


Carel Stolker
Prof. mr. Carel Stolker was decaan van de Faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid van de Universiteit Leiden. Daarvoor was hij vice-decaan voor het onderzoek en directeur van het facultaire E.M. Meijers Instituut. In het academisch jaar 2011-2012 werkt hij aan een boek over rechtenfaculteiten.
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