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Advanced Introduction to Legal Research Methods

Ernst Hirsch Ballin

Written by Ernst Hirsch Ballin, this original Advanced Introduction uncovers the foundations of legal research methods, an area of legal scholarship distinctly lacking in standardisation. The author shows how such methods differ along critical, empirical, and fundamental lines, and how our understanding of these is crucial to overcoming crises and restoring trust in the law. Key topics include a consideration of law as a normative language and an examination of the common objects of legal research.
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Preface

Ernst Hirsch Ballin

Extract

Legal research has never been characterised by a unifying methodology, and not even by a common understanding of its object. With the advancement of peer review and evaluations in legal scholarship since the turn of the century,1 however, methodological questions are gradually coming more to the forefront.2 As the larger part of legal research is based on an implicit, not necessarily consistent set of methods, the underlying goal of this book is to narrow the gap between existing strands of legal scholarship and elevated general standards of research theory. Above all, it is intended to encourage scholars to take up the challenges of doing legal research with an open mind and in an innovative manner. While in no way seeking to replace practical guides for organising research and retrieving information, it hopes to make users of such guides, and also researchers who no longer need guides, aware of what they are actually doing in terms of research methodology.

In this way, our advanced introduction reaches out both to fresh and to experienced researchers by presenting a guide for achieving a better understanding of the nature of their work, and also for avoiding the pitfalls of confusion with other approaches to the object of their research. While the debates surrounding legal scholarship, such as unreflected comparisons with natural sciences, together with calls to serve pragmatic purposes and ‘law and …’ movements,3 all belong to the backdrop of our endeavours, they are not the core subject. Instead, this...

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