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Journal Law and Method x Year 2018 x
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Access_open Editorial Special Issue - Comparative Law

Journal Law and Method, November 2018
Authors Irene Broekhuijse and Sofia Ranchordás
Author's information

Irene Broekhuijse
Dr. I.L.A. Broekhuijse is Assistant Professor Legal Theory at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg.

Sofia Ranchordás
Prof. Dr. Sofia Ranchordás is Professor of Law, Chair of European and Comparative Public Law and Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Groningen.
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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.
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