Research Methods for Law

By Mike McConville; Wing Hong Chui | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Quantitative Legal Research

Wing Hong Chui


INTRODUCTION

This chapter is about the collection and analysis of quantitative data. It aims to introduce the rationales and benefits of using quantitative approaches in socio-legal research1 and to demonstrate how these approaches are relevant to socio-legal topics. It is an introductory chapter designed to answer several questions surrounding the use of quantitative research methodology. For instance, what is the main purpose of this methodology? What are the specific stages in the general research process? In what ways can quantitative researchers obtain data that form the raw material of any investigation? How can the researchers collect reliable and valid data? What are the common methods of quantitative data analysis? By answering these questions systematically, it is hoped that students and uni- versity academics are better able to place quantitative research within the context of a pursuit of knowledge, and to see its wider application in the field of law and justice.

Some law students, practising lawyers and legal academics question the rel- evance of using social research methods in examining various aspects of law and the operation of legal systems. For instance, Lloyd E. Ohlin shared his observation that,

Law students are most interested in discussions relating to solution of
social problems and the grounds for choosing among public policy
alternatives. They tend to be impatient with the theorising interests of
social scientists, the complications of research design and the detailed
development of proof for different hypothetical propositions.2

In a similar vein, Julius G. Getman recognised that,

-46-

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