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Advanced Introduction to Empirical Legal Research

Herbert M. Kritzer

Herbert Kritzer presents a clear introduction to the history, methods and substance of empirical legal research (ELR). Quantitative methods dominate in empirical legal research, but an important segment of the field draws on qualitative methods, such as semi-structured interviews and observation. In this book both methodologies are explored alongside systematic data analysis. Offering an overview of the broad ELR literature, the institutions of the law, the central actors of the law, and the subjects of the law are each addressed in this highly readable account that will be essential reading for legal researchers.
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Part II: Methodology

Herbert M. Kritzer

Extract

As discussed in Chapter 1, it is methodology that makes research about law and legal phenomena “empirical.” Specifically, empirical research involves the systematic collection of information, henceforth referred to as “data,” which hypothetically can be replicated. It is not necessary that a specific piece of empirical legal research (ELR) actually involve data collection because it is common for empirical research to rely upon data previously collected and made available for analysis through a data archive, by posting on the internet, or by private provision by the person or organization that originally collected the data. In addition to the systematic collection of data, empirical research involves the systematic analysis of the data, again in a way that could be replicated by another analyst who had access to the same data.

The three chapters of Part II deal with methodology: Chapter 3 considers several preliminary issues; Chapter 4 discusses data collection; and Chapter 5 focuses on data analysis. Although Chapters 4 and 5 are divided into separate sections for quantitative and qualitative research, it is important to keep in mind that the two styles can often be fruitfully combined in a single study. In the discussions in these next three chapters, I draw liberally on my own research for examples and illustrations.

The chapters of this part of the book are intended to provide a sufficient introduction to methodological issues for readers to be able to be adequate consumers of ELR literature; they do not provide the kind...

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