Research Methods for Law

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

CHAPTER 7
Non-empirical Discovery in Legal
Scholarship - Choosing,
Researching and Writing a
Traditional Scholarly Article

Michael Pendleton

There are many areas in or touching law worthy of further examination by those trained in it. Such further examination usually takes the form of scholarly articles in law reviews, journals, chapters and books, though some contemporary schools of jurisprudence would suggest social action pro- grammes.1 Scholarly articles and the like may begin life as vague ideas over coffee with colleagues, flashes of inspiration in the middle of the night, mere drafts or seminar, conference and symposium papers. There are also many ways of classifying legal writing. Before discussing the sense in which it is used in this chapter, it is instructive to survey possible definitions.

One attempted definition was put forward as follows:

54. Research in and on the law takes many forms. Apart from the substantial research undertaken in connection with the teaching of courses, the major types of research are:
1. research which provides a systematic exposition of the rules governing a particular legal category, analyses the relationship between rules, explains areas of difficulty and, perhaps, predicts future developments (‘doctrinal research’);
2. research which intensively evaluates the adequacy of existing rules and which recommends changes to any rules found wanting (‘reform- oriented research’); and
3. research which fosters a more complete understanding of the conceptual bases of legal principles and of the combined effects of a range of rules and procedures that touch on a particular area of activity (“theoretical research”).2

It is important to note that the definition of legal writing has in recent times responded to university funding models for law which have largely adopted a

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