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Case Study Method – 18 Advantages and Disadvantages

The case study method uses investigatory research as a way to collect data about specific demographics. This approach can apply to individuals, businesses, groups, or events. Each participant receives an equal amount of participation, offering information for collection that can then find new insights into specific trends, ideas, of hypotheses.

Interviews and research observation are the two standard methods of data collection used when following the case study method.

Researchers initially developed the case study method to develop and support hypotheses in clinical medicine. The benefits found in these efforts led the approach to transition to other industries, allowing for the examination of results through proposed decisions, processes, or outcomes. Its unique approach to information makes it possible for others to glean specific points of wisdom that encourage growth.

Several case study method advantages and disadvantages can appear when researchers take this approach.

List of the Advantages of the Case Study Method

1. It requires an intensive study of a specific unit. Researchers must document verifiable data from direct observations when using the case study method. This work offers information about the input processes that go into the hypothesis under consideration. A casual approach to data-gathering work is not effective if a definitive outcome is desired. Each behavior, choice, or comment is a critical component that can verify or dispute the ideas being considered.

Intensive programs can require a significant amount of work for researchers, but it can also promote an improvement in the data collected. That means a hypothesis can receive immediate verification in some situations.

2. No sampling is required when following the case study method. This research method studies social units in their entire perspective instead of pulling individual data points out to analyze them. That means there is no sampling work required when using the case study method. The hypothesis under consideration receives support because it works to turn opinions into facts, verifying or denying the proposals that outside observers can use in the future.

Although researchers might pay attention to specific incidents or outcomes based on generalized behaviors or ideas, the study itself won’t sample those situations. It takes a look at the “bigger vision” instead.

3. This method offers a continuous analysis of the facts. The case study method will look at the facts continuously for the social group being studied by researchers. That means there aren’t interruptions in the process that could limit the validity of the data being collected through this work. This advantage reduces the need to use assumptions when drawing conclusions from the information, adding validity to the outcome of the study over time. That means the outcome becomes relevant to both sides of the equation as it can prove specific suppositions or invalidate a hypothesis under consideration.

This advantage can lead to inefficiencies because of the amount of data being studied by researchers. It is up to the individuals involved in the process to sort out what is useful and meaningful and what is not.

4. It is a useful approach to take when formulating a hypothesis. Researchers will use the case study method advantages to verify a hypothesis under consideration. It is not unusual for the collected data to lead people toward the formulation of new ideas after completing this work. This process encourages further study because it allows concepts to evolve as people do in social or physical environments. That means a complete data set can be gathered based on the skills of the researcher and the honesty of the individuals involved in the study itself.

Although this approach won’t develop a societal-level evaluation of a hypothesis, it can look at how specific groups will react in various circumstances. That information can lead to a better decision-making process in the future for everyone involved.

5. It provides an increase in knowledge. The case study method provides everyone with analytical power to increase knowledge. This advantage is possible because it uses a variety of methodologies to collect information while evaluating a hypothesis. Researchers prefer to use direct observation and interviews to complete their work, but it can also advantage through the use of questionnaires. Participants might need to fill out a journal or diary about their experiences that can be used to study behaviors or choices.

Some researchers incorporate memory tests and experimental tasks to determine how social groups will interact or respond in specific situations. All of this data then works to verify the possibilities that a hypothesis proposes.

6. The case study method allows for comparisons. The human experience is one that is built on individual observations from group situations. Specific demographics might think, act, or respond in particular ways to stimuli, but each person in that group will also contribute a small part to the whole. You could say that people are sponges that collect data from one another every day to create individual outcomes.

The case study method allows researchers to take the information from each demographic for comparison purposes. This information can then lead to proposals that support a hypothesis or lead to its disruption.

7. Data generalization is possible using the case study method. The case study method provides a foundation for data generalization, allowing researches to illustrate their statistical findings in meaningful ways. It puts the information into a usable format that almost anyone can use if they have the need to evaluate the hypothesis under consideration. This process makes it easier to discover unusual features, unique outcomes, or find conclusions that wouldn’t be available without this method. It does an excellent job of identifying specific concepts that relate to the proposed ideas that researchers were verifying through their work.

Generalization does not apply to a larger population group with the case study method. What researchers can do with this information is to suggest a predictable outcome when similar groups are placed in an equal situation.

8. It offers a comprehensive approach to research. Nothing gets ignored when using the case study method to collect information. Every person, place, or thing involved in the research receives the complete attention of those seeking data. The interactions are equal, which means the data is comprehensive and directly reflective of the group being observed.

This advantage means that there are fewer outliers to worry about when researching an idea, leading to a higher level of accuracy in the conclusions drawn by the researchers.

9. The identification of deviant cases is possible with this method. The case study method of research makes it easier to identify deviant cases that occur in each social group. These incidents are units (people) that behave in ways that go against the hypothesis under consideration. Instead of ignoring them like other options do when collecting data, this approach incorporates the “rogue” behavior to understand why it exists in the first place.

This advantage makes the eventual data and conclusions gathered more reliable because it incorporates the “alternative opinion” that exists. One might say that the case study method places as much emphasis on the yin as it does the yang so that the whole picture becomes available to the outside observer.

10. Questionnaire development is possible with the case study method. Interviews and direct observation are the preferred methods of implementing the case study method because it is cheap and done remotely. The information gathered by researchers can also lead to farming questionnaires that can farm additional data from those being studied. When all of the data resources come together, it is easier to formulate a conclusion that accurately reflects the demographics.

Some people in the case study method may try to manipulate the results for personal reasons, but this advantage makes it possible to identify this information readily. Then researchers can look into the thinking that goes into the dishonest behaviors observed.

List of the Disadvantages of the Case Study Method

1. The case study method offers limited representation. The usefulness of the case study method is limited to a specific group of representatives. Researchers are looking at a specific demographic when using this option. That means it is impossible to create any generalization that applies to the rest of society, an organization, or a larger community with this work. The findings can only apply to other groups caught in similar circumstances with the same experiences.

It is useful to use the case study method when attempting to discover the specific reasons why some people behave in a specific way. If researchers need something more generalized, then a different method must be used.

2. No classification is possible with the case study method. This disadvantage is also due to the sample size in the case study method. No classification is possible because researchers are studying such a small unit, group, or demographic. It can be an inefficient process since the skills of the researcher help to determine the quality of the data being collected to verify the validity of a hypothesis. Some participants may be unwilling to answer or participate, while others might try to guess at the outcome to support it.

Researchers can get trapped in a place where they explore more tangents than the actual hypothesis with this option. Classification can occur within the units being studied, but this data cannot extrapolate to other demographics.

3. The case study method still offers the possibility of errors. Each person has an unconscious bias that influences their behaviors and choices. The case study method can find outliers that oppose a hypothesis fairly easily thanks to its emphasis on finding facts, but it is up to the researchers to determine what information qualifies for this designation. If the results from the case study method are surprising or go against the opinion of participating individuals, then there is still the possibility that the information will not be 100% accurate.

Researchers must have controls in place that dictate how data gathering work occurs. Without this limitation in place, the results of the study cannot be guaranteed because of the presence of bias.

4. It is a subjective method to use for research. Although the purpose of the case study method of research is to gather facts, the foundation of what gets gathered is still based on opinion. It uses the subjective method instead of the objective one when evaluating data, which means there can be another layer of errors in the information to consider.

Imagine that a researcher interprets someone’s response as “angry” when performing direct observation, but the individual was feeling “shame” because of a decision they made. The difference between those two emotions is profound, and it could lead to information disruptions that could be problematic to the eventual work of hypothesis verification.

5. The processes required by the case study method are not useful for everyone. The case study method uses a person’s memories, explanations, and records from photographs and diaries to identify interactions on influences on psychological processes. People are given the chance to describe what happens in the world around them as a way for researchers to gather data. This process can be an advantage in some industries, but it can also be a worthless approach to some groups.

If the social group under study doesn’t have the information, knowledge, or wisdom to provide meaningful data, then the processes are no longer useful. Researchers must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the case study method before starting their work to determine if the possibility of value exists. If it does not, then a different method may be necessary.

6. It is possible for bias to form in the data. It’s not just an unconscious bias that can form in the data when using the case study method. The narrow study approach can lead to outright discrimination in the data. Researchers can decide to ignore outliers or any other information that doesn’t support their hypothesis when using this method. The subjective nature of this approach makes it difficult to challenge the conclusions that get drawn from this work, and the limited pool of units (people) means that duplication is almost impossible.

That means unethical people can manipulate the results gathered by the case study method to their own advantage without much accountability in the process.

7. This method has no fixed limits to it. This method of research is highly dependent on situational circumstances rather than overarching societal or corporate truths. That means the researcher has no fixed limits of investigation. Even when controls are in place to limit bias or recommend specific activities, the case study method has enough flexibility built into its structures to allow for additional exploration. That means it is possible for this work to continue indefinitely, gathering data that never becomes useful.

Scientists began to track the health of 268 sophomores at Harvard in 1938. The Great Depression was in its final years at that point, so the study hoped to reveal clues that lead to happy and healthy lives. It continues still today, now incorporating the children of the original participants, providing over 80 years of information to sort through for conclusions.

8. The case study method is time-consuming and expensive. The case study method can be affordable in some situations, but the lack of fixed limits and the ability to pursue tangents can make it a costly process in most situations. It takes time to gather the data in the first place, and then researchers must interpret the information received so that they can use it for hypothesis evaluation. There are other methods of data collection that can be less expensive and provide results faster.

That doesn’t mean the case study method is useless. The individualization of results can help the decision-making process advance in a variety of industries successfully. It just takes more time to reach the appropriate conclusion, and that might be a resource that isn’t available.

The advantages and disadvantages of the case study method suggest that the helpfulness of this research option depends on the specific hypothesis under consideration. When researchers have the correct skills and mindset to gather data accurately, then it can lead to supportive data that can verify ideas with tremendous accuracy.

This research method can also be used unethically to produce specific results that can be difficult to challenge.

When bias enters into the structure of the case study method, the processes become inefficient, inaccurate, and harmful to the hypothesis. That’s why great care must be taken when designing a study with this approach. It might be a labor-intensive way to develop conclusions, but the outcomes are often worth the investments needed.

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Case Study Method | Characteristics, Advantages & Limitations of Case Study Method

Posted by Md. Harun Ar Rashid | Aug 5, 2021 | Research Methodology

Case Study Method

The case study method is a very popular form of qualitative analysis and involves a careful and complete observation of a social unit, be that unit a person, a family, an institution, a cultural group, or even the entire community. It is a method of study in depth rather than breadth. The case study places more emphasis on the full analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their interrelations. The case study deals with the processes that take place and their interrelationship. Thus, the case study is essentially an intensive investigation of the particular unit under consideration. The object of the case study method is to locate the factors that account for the behavior patterns of the given unit as an integrated totality.

“The case study method is a technique by which individual factor whether it be an institution or just an episode in the life of an individual or a group is analyzed in its relationship to any other in the group.” ( H. Odum )

“A comprehensive study of a social unit be that unit a person, a group, a social institution, a district or a community.” ( Pauline V. Young )

Case Study Method - Case Study Method | Characteristics, Advantages & Limitations of Case Study Method

The case study method is a form of qualitative analysis wherein careful and complete observation of an individual or a situation or an institution is done; efforts are made to study each and every aspect of the concerning unit in minute details and then from case data generalizations and inferences are drawn.

Characteristics: The essential characteristics of the case study method are as under:

Advantages: There are several advantages of the case study method, some of them are being:

Limitations: Important limitations of the case study method may as well be highlighted.

Despite the above-stated limitations, we find that case studies are being undertaken in several disciplines, particularly in sociology, as a tool of scientific research in view of the several advantages indicated earlier. Most of the limitations can be removed if researchers are always conscious of these and are well trained in the modern methods of collecting case data and in the scientific techniques of assembling, classifying, and processing the same. Besides, case studies, in modern times, can be conducted in such a manner that the data are amenable to quantification and statistical treatment. Possibly, this is also the reason why case studies are becoming popular day by day.

Reference:  Research Methodology written by C.R. Kothari

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Home » Pros and Cons » 12 Case Study Method Advantages and Disadvantages

12 Case Study Method Advantages and Disadvantages

A case study is an investigation into an individual circumstance. The investigation may be of a single person, business, event, or group. The investigation involves collecting in-depth data about the individual entity through the use of several collection methods. Interviews and observation are two of the most common forms of data collection used.

The case study method was originally developed in the field of clinical medicine. It has expanded since to other industries to examine key results, either positive or negative, that were received through a specific set of decisions. This allows for the topic to be researched with great detail, allowing others to glean knowledge from the information presented.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using the case study method.

List of the Advantages of the Case Study Method

1. it turns client observations into useable data..

Case studies offer verifiable data from direct observations of the individual entity involved. These observations provide information about input processes. It can show the path taken which led to specific results being generated. Those observations make it possible for others, in similar circumstances, to potentially replicate the results discovered by the case study method.

2. It turns opinion into fact.

Case studies provide facts to study because you’re looking at data which was generated in real-time. It is a way for researchers to turn their opinions into information that can be verified as fact because there is a proven path of positive or negative development. Singling out a specific incident also provides in-depth details about the path of development, which gives it extra credibility to the outside observer.

3. It is relevant to all parties involved.

Case studies that are chosen well will be relevant to everyone who is participating in the process. Because there is such a high level of relevance involved, researchers are able to stay actively engaged in the data collection process. Participants are able to further their knowledge growth because there is interest in the outcome of the case study. Most importantly, the case study method essentially forces people to make a decision about the question being studied, then defend their position through the use of facts.

4. It uses a number of different research methodologies.

The case study method involves more than just interviews and direct observation. Case histories from a records database can be used with this method. Questionnaires can be distributed to participants in the entity being studies. Individuals who have kept diaries and journals about the entity being studied can be included. Even certain experimental tasks, such as a memory test, can be part of this research process.

5. It can be done remotely.

Researchers do not need to be present at a specific location or facility to utilize the case study method. Research can be obtained over the phone, through email, and other forms of remote communication. Even interviews can be conducted over the phone. That means this method is good for formative research that is exploratory in nature, even if it must be completed from a remote location.

6. It is inexpensive.

Compared to other methods of research, the case study method is rather inexpensive. The costs associated with this method involve accessing data, which can often be done for free. Even when there are in-person interviews or other on-site duties involved, the costs of reviewing the data are minimal.

7. It is very accessible to readers.

The case study method puts data into a usable format for those who read the data and note its outcome. Although there may be perspectives of the researcher included in the outcome, the goal of this method is to help the reader be able to identify specific concepts to which they also relate. That allows them to discover unusual features within the data, examine outliers that may be present, or draw conclusions from their own experiences.

List of the Disadvantages of the Case Study Method

1. it can have influence factors within the data..

Every person has their own unconscious bias. Although the case study method is designed to limit the influence of this bias by collecting fact-based data, it is the collector of the data who gets to define what is a “fact” and what is not. That means the real-time data being collected may be based on the results the researcher wants to see from the entity instead. By controlling how facts are collected, a research can control the results this method generates.

2. It takes longer to analyze the data.

The information collection process through the case study method takes much longer to collect than other research options. That is because there is an enormous amount of data which must be sifted through. It’s not just the researchers who can influence the outcome in this type of research method. Participants can also influence outcomes by given inaccurate or incomplete answers to questions they are asked. Researchers must verify the information presented to ensure its accuracy, and that takes time to complete.

3. It can be an inefficient process.

Case study methods require the participation of the individuals or entities involved for it to be a successful process. That means the skills of the researcher will help to determine the quality of information that is being received. Some participants may be quiet, unwilling to answer even basic questions about what is being studied. Others may be overly talkative, exploring tangents which have nothing to do with the case study at all. If researchers are unsure of how to manage this process, then incomplete data is often collected.

4. It requires a small sample size to be effective.

The case study method requires a small sample size for it to yield an effective amount of data to be analyzed. If there are different demographics involved with the entity, or there are different needs which must be examined, then the case study method becomes very inefficient.

5. It is a labor-intensive method of data collection.

The case study method requires researchers to have a high level of language skills to be successful with data collection. Researchers must be personally involved in every aspect of collecting the data as well. From reviewing files or entries personally to conducting personal interviews, the concepts and themes of this process are heavily reliant on the amount of work each researcher is willing to put into things.

These case study method advantages and disadvantages offer a look at the effectiveness of this research option. With the right skill set, it can be used as an effective tool to gather rich, detailed information about specific entities. Without the right skill set, the case study method becomes inefficient and inaccurate.

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What the Case Study Method Really Teaches

merits and limitations of case study method in socio legal research

Seven meta-skills that stick even if the cases fade from memory.

It’s been 100 years since Harvard Business School began using the case study method. Beyond teaching specific subject matter, the case study method excels in instilling meta-skills in students. This article explains the importance of seven such skills: preparation, discernment, bias recognition, judgement, collaboration, curiosity, and self-confidence.

During my decade as dean of Harvard Business School, I spent hundreds of hours talking with our alumni. To enliven these conversations, I relied on a favorite question: “What was the most important thing you learned from your time in our MBA program?”

Alumni responses varied but tended to follow a pattern. Almost no one referred to a specific business concept they learned. Many mentioned close friendships or the classmate who became a business or life partner. Most often, though, alumni highlighted a personal quality or skill like “increased self-confidence” or “the ability to advocate for a point of view” or “knowing how to work closely with others to solve problems.” And when I asked how they developed these capabilities, they inevitably mentioned the magic of the case method.

Harvard Business School pioneered the use of case studies to teach management in 1921. As we commemorate 100 years of case teaching, much has been  written  about the effectiveness of this method. I agree with many of these observations. Cases expose students to real business dilemmas and decisions. Cases teach students to size up business problems quickly while considering the broader organizational, industry, and societal context. Students recall concepts better when they are set in a case, much as people remember words better when used in context. Cases teach students how to apply theory in practice and how to induce theory from practice. The case method cultivates the capacity for critical analysis, judgment, decision-making, and action.

There is a word that aptly captures the broader set of capabilities our alumni reported they learned from the case method. That word is meta-skills, and these meta-skills are a benefit of case study instruction that those who’ve never been exposed to the method may undervalue.

Educators define meta-skills as a group of long-lasting abilities that allow someone to learn new things more quickly. When parents encourage a child to learn to play a musical instrument, for instance, beyond the hope of instilling musical skills (which some children will master and others may not), they may also appreciate the benefit the child derives from deliberate, consistent practice. This meta-skill is valuable for learning many other things beyond music.

In the same vein, let me suggest seven vital meta-skills students gain from the case method:

1. Preparation

There is no place for students to hide in the moments before the famed “cold call”— when the teacher can ask any student at random to open the case discussion. Decades after they graduate, students will vividly remember cold calls when they, or someone else, froze with fear, or when they rose to nail the case even in the face of a fierce grilling by the professor.

The case method creates high-powered incentives for students to prepare. Students typically spend several hours reading, highlighting, and debating cases before class, sometimes alone and sometimes in groups. The number of cases to be prepared can be overwhelming by design.

Learning to be prepared — to read materials in advance, prioritize, identify the key issues, and have an initial point of view — is a meta-skill that helps people succeed in a broad range of professions and work situations. We have all seen how the prepared person, who knows what they are talking about, can gain the trust and confidence of others in a business meeting. The habits of preparing for a case discussion can transform a student into that person.

2. Discernment

Many cases are long. A typical case may include history, industry background, a cast of characters, dialogue, financial statements, source documents, or other exhibits. Some material may be digressive or inessential. Cases often have holes — critical pieces of information that are missing.

The case method forces students to identify and focus on what’s essential, ignore the noise, skim when possible, and concentrate on what matters, meta-skills required for every busy executive confronted with the paradox of simultaneous information overload and information paucity. As one alumnus pithily put it, “The case method helped me learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

3. Bias Recognition

Students often have an initial reaction to a case stemming from their background or earlier work and life experiences. For instance, people who have worked in finance may be biased to view cases through a financial lens. However, effective general managers must understand and empathize with various stakeholders, and if someone has a natural tendency to favor one viewpoint over another, discussing dozens of cases will help reveal that bias. Armed with this self-understanding, students can correct that bias or learn to listen more carefully to classmates whose different viewpoints may help them see beyond their own biases.

Recognizing and correcting personal bias can be an invaluable meta-skill in business settings when leaders inevitably have to work with people from different functions, backgrounds, and perspectives.

4. Judgment

Cases put students into the role of the case protagonist and force them to make and defend a decision. The format leaves room for nuanced discussion, but not for waffling: Teachers push students to choose an option, knowing full well that there is rarely one correct answer.

Indeed, most cases are meant to stimulate a discussion rather than highlight effective or ineffective management practice. Across the cases they study, students get feedback from their classmates and their teachers about when their decisions are more or less compelling. It enables them to develop the judgment of making decisions under uncertainty, communicating that decision to others, and gaining their buy-in — all essential leadership skills. Leaders earn respect for their judgment. It is something students in the case method get lots of practice honing.

5. Collaboration

It is better to make business decisions after extended give-and-take, debate, and deliberation. As in any team sport, people get better at working collaboratively with practice. Discussing cases in small study groups, and then in the classroom, helps students practice the meta-skill of collaborating with others. Our alumni often say they came away from the case method with better skills to participate in meetings and lead them.

Orchestrating a good collaborative discussion in which everyone contributes, every viewpoint is carefully considered, yet a thoughtful decision is made in the end is the arc of any good case discussion. Although teachers play the primary role in this collaborative process during their time at the school, it is an art that students of the case method internalize and get better at when they get to lead discussions.

6. Curiosity

Cases expose students to lots of different situations and roles. Across cases, they get to assume the role of entrepreneur, investor, functional leader, or CEO, in a range of different industries and sectors. Each case offers an opportunity for students to see what resonates with them, what excites them, what bores them, which role they could imagine inhabiting in their careers.

Cases stimulate curiosity about the range of opportunities in the world and the many ways that students can make a difference as leaders. This curiosity serves them well throughout their lives. It makes them more agile, more adaptive, and more open to doing a wider range of things in their careers.

7. Self-Confidence

Students must inhabit roles during a case study that far outstrip their prior experience or capability, often as leaders of teams or entire organizations in unfamiliar settings. “What would you do if you were the case protagonist?” is the most common question in a case discussion. Even though they are imaginary and temporary, these “stretch” assignments increase students’ self-confidence that they can rise to the challenge.

In our program, students can study 500 cases over two years, and the range of roles they are asked to assume increases the range of situations they believe they can tackle. Speaking up in front of 90 classmates feels risky at first, but students become more comfortable taking that risk over time. Knowing that they can hold their own in a highly curated group of competitive peers enhances student confidence. Often, alumni describe how discussing cases made them feel prepared for much bigger roles or challenges than they’d imagined they could handle before their MBA studies. Self-confidence is difficult to teach or coach, but the case study method seems to instill it in people.

There may well be other ways of learning these meta-skills, such as the repeated experience gained through practice or guidance from a gifted coach. However, under the direction of a masterful teacher, the case method can engage students and help them develop powerful meta-skills like no other form of teaching. This quickly became apparent when case teaching was introduced in 1921 — and it’s even truer today.

For educators and students, recognizing the value of these meta-skills can offer perspective on the broader goals of their work together. Returning to the example of piano lessons, it may be natural for a music teacher or their students to judge success by a simple measure: Does the student learn to play the instrument well? But when everyone involved recognizes the broader meta-skills that instrumental instruction can instill — and that even those who bumble their way through Bach may still derive lifelong benefits from their instruction — it may lead to a deeper appreciation of this work.

For recruiters and employers, recognizing the long-lasting set of benefits that accrue from studying via the case method can be a valuable perspective in assessing candidates and plotting their potential career trajectories.

And while we must certainly use the case method’s centennial to imagine yet more powerful ways of educating students in the future, let us be sure to assess these innovations for the meta-skills they might instill, as much as the subject matter mastery they might enable.

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The case study approach

BMC Medical Research Methodology volume  11 , Article number:  100 ( 2011 ) Cite this article

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The case study approach allows in-depth, multi-faceted explorations of complex issues in their real-life settings. The value of the case study approach is well recognised in the fields of business, law and policy, but somewhat less so in health services research. Based on our experiences of conducting several health-related case studies, we reflect on the different types of case study design, the specific research questions this approach can help answer, the data sources that tend to be used, and the particular advantages and disadvantages of employing this methodological approach. The paper concludes with key pointers to aid those designing and appraising proposals for conducting case study research, and a checklist to help readers assess the quality of case study reports.

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The case study approach is particularly useful to employ when there is a need to obtain an in-depth appreciation of an issue, event or phenomenon of interest, in its natural real-life context. Our aim in writing this piece is to provide insights into when to consider employing this approach and an overview of key methodological considerations in relation to the design, planning, analysis, interpretation and reporting of case studies.

The illustrative 'grand round', 'case report' and 'case series' have a long tradition in clinical practice and research. Presenting detailed critiques, typically of one or more patients, aims to provide insights into aspects of the clinical case and, in doing so, illustrate broader lessons that may be learnt. In research, the conceptually-related case study approach can be used, for example, to describe in detail a patient's episode of care, explore professional attitudes to and experiences of a new policy initiative or service development or more generally to 'investigate contemporary phenomena within its real-life context' [ 1 ]. Based on our experiences of conducting a range of case studies, we reflect on when to consider using this approach, discuss the key steps involved and illustrate, with examples, some of the practical challenges of attaining an in-depth understanding of a 'case' as an integrated whole. In keeping with previously published work, we acknowledge the importance of theory to underpin the design, selection, conduct and interpretation of case studies[ 2 ]. In so doing, we make passing reference to the different epistemological approaches used in case study research by key theoreticians and methodologists in this field of enquiry.

This paper is structured around the following main questions: What is a case study? What are case studies used for? How are case studies conducted? What are the potential pitfalls and how can these be avoided? We draw in particular on four of our own recently published examples of case studies (see Tables 1 , 2 , 3 and 4 ) and those of others to illustrate our discussion[ 3 – 7 ].

What is a case study?

A case study is a research approach that is used to generate an in-depth, multi-faceted understanding of a complex issue in its real-life context. It is an established research design that is used extensively in a wide variety of disciplines, particularly in the social sciences. A case study can be defined in a variety of ways (Table 5 ), the central tenet being the need to explore an event or phenomenon in depth and in its natural context. It is for this reason sometimes referred to as a "naturalistic" design; this is in contrast to an "experimental" design (such as a randomised controlled trial) in which the investigator seeks to exert control over and manipulate the variable(s) of interest.

Stake's work has been particularly influential in defining the case study approach to scientific enquiry. He has helpfully characterised three main types of case study: intrinsic , instrumental and collective [ 8 ]. An intrinsic case study is typically undertaken to learn about a unique phenomenon. The researcher should define the uniqueness of the phenomenon, which distinguishes it from all others. In contrast, the instrumental case study uses a particular case (some of which may be better than others) to gain a broader appreciation of an issue or phenomenon. The collective case study involves studying multiple cases simultaneously or sequentially in an attempt to generate a still broader appreciation of a particular issue.

These are however not necessarily mutually exclusive categories. In the first of our examples (Table 1 ), we undertook an intrinsic case study to investigate the issue of recruitment of minority ethnic people into the specific context of asthma research studies, but it developed into a instrumental case study through seeking to understand the issue of recruitment of these marginalised populations more generally, generating a number of the findings that are potentially transferable to other disease contexts[ 3 ]. In contrast, the other three examples (see Tables 2 , 3 and 4 ) employed collective case study designs to study the introduction of workforce reconfiguration in primary care, the implementation of electronic health records into hospitals, and to understand the ways in which healthcare students learn about patient safety considerations[ 4 – 6 ]. Although our study focusing on the introduction of General Practitioners with Specialist Interests (Table 2 ) was explicitly collective in design (four contrasting primary care organisations were studied), is was also instrumental in that this particular professional group was studied as an exemplar of the more general phenomenon of workforce redesign[ 4 ].

What are case studies used for?

According to Yin, case studies can be used to explain, describe or explore events or phenomena in the everyday contexts in which they occur[ 1 ]. These can, for example, help to understand and explain causal links and pathways resulting from a new policy initiative or service development (see Tables 2 and 3 , for example)[ 1 ]. In contrast to experimental designs, which seek to test a specific hypothesis through deliberately manipulating the environment (like, for example, in a randomised controlled trial giving a new drug to randomly selected individuals and then comparing outcomes with controls),[ 9 ] the case study approach lends itself well to capturing information on more explanatory ' how ', 'what' and ' why ' questions, such as ' how is the intervention being implemented and received on the ground?'. The case study approach can offer additional insights into what gaps exist in its delivery or why one implementation strategy might be chosen over another. This in turn can help develop or refine theory, as shown in our study of the teaching of patient safety in undergraduate curricula (Table 4 )[ 6 , 10 ]. Key questions to consider when selecting the most appropriate study design are whether it is desirable or indeed possible to undertake a formal experimental investigation in which individuals and/or organisations are allocated to an intervention or control arm? Or whether the wish is to obtain a more naturalistic understanding of an issue? The former is ideally studied using a controlled experimental design, whereas the latter is more appropriately studied using a case study design.

Case studies may be approached in different ways depending on the epistemological standpoint of the researcher, that is, whether they take a critical (questioning one's own and others' assumptions), interpretivist (trying to understand individual and shared social meanings) or positivist approach (orientating towards the criteria of natural sciences, such as focusing on generalisability considerations) (Table 6 ). Whilst such a schema can be conceptually helpful, it may be appropriate to draw on more than one approach in any case study, particularly in the context of conducting health services research. Doolin has, for example, noted that in the context of undertaking interpretative case studies, researchers can usefully draw on a critical, reflective perspective which seeks to take into account the wider social and political environment that has shaped the case[ 11 ].

How are case studies conducted?

Here, we focus on the main stages of research activity when planning and undertaking a case study; the crucial stages are: defining the case; selecting the case(s); collecting and analysing the data; interpreting data; and reporting the findings.

Defining the case

Carefully formulated research question(s), informed by the existing literature and a prior appreciation of the theoretical issues and setting(s), are all important in appropriately and succinctly defining the case[ 8 , 12 ]. Crucially, each case should have a pre-defined boundary which clarifies the nature and time period covered by the case study (i.e. its scope, beginning and end), the relevant social group, organisation or geographical area of interest to the investigator, the types of evidence to be collected, and the priorities for data collection and analysis (see Table 7 )[ 1 ]. A theory driven approach to defining the case may help generate knowledge that is potentially transferable to a range of clinical contexts and behaviours; using theory is also likely to result in a more informed appreciation of, for example, how and why interventions have succeeded or failed[ 13 ].

For example, in our evaluation of the introduction of electronic health records in English hospitals (Table 3 ), we defined our cases as the NHS Trusts that were receiving the new technology[ 5 ]. Our focus was on how the technology was being implemented. However, if the primary research interest had been on the social and organisational dimensions of implementation, we might have defined our case differently as a grouping of healthcare professionals (e.g. doctors and/or nurses). The precise beginning and end of the case may however prove difficult to define. Pursuing this same example, when does the process of implementation and adoption of an electronic health record system really begin or end? Such judgements will inevitably be influenced by a range of factors, including the research question, theory of interest, the scope and richness of the gathered data and the resources available to the research team.

Selecting the case(s)

The decision on how to select the case(s) to study is a very important one that merits some reflection. In an intrinsic case study, the case is selected on its own merits[ 8 ]. The case is selected not because it is representative of other cases, but because of its uniqueness, which is of genuine interest to the researchers. This was, for example, the case in our study of the recruitment of minority ethnic participants into asthma research (Table 1 ) as our earlier work had demonstrated the marginalisation of minority ethnic people with asthma, despite evidence of disproportionate asthma morbidity[ 14 , 15 ]. In another example of an intrinsic case study, Hellstrom et al.[ 16 ] studied an elderly married couple living with dementia to explore how dementia had impacted on their understanding of home, their everyday life and their relationships.

For an instrumental case study, selecting a "typical" case can work well[ 8 ]. In contrast to the intrinsic case study, the particular case which is chosen is of less importance than selecting a case that allows the researcher to investigate an issue or phenomenon. For example, in order to gain an understanding of doctors' responses to health policy initiatives, Som undertook an instrumental case study interviewing clinicians who had a range of responsibilities for clinical governance in one NHS acute hospital trust[ 17 ]. Sampling a "deviant" or "atypical" case may however prove even more informative, potentially enabling the researcher to identify causal processes, generate hypotheses and develop theory.

In collective or multiple case studies, a number of cases are carefully selected. This offers the advantage of allowing comparisons to be made across several cases and/or replication. Choosing a "typical" case may enable the findings to be generalised to theory (i.e. analytical generalisation) or to test theory by replicating the findings in a second or even a third case (i.e. replication logic)[ 1 ]. Yin suggests two or three literal replications (i.e. predicting similar results) if the theory is straightforward and five or more if the theory is more subtle. However, critics might argue that selecting 'cases' in this way is insufficiently reflexive and ill-suited to the complexities of contemporary healthcare organisations.

The selected case study site(s) should allow the research team access to the group of individuals, the organisation, the processes or whatever else constitutes the chosen unit of analysis for the study. Access is therefore a central consideration; the researcher needs to come to know the case study site(s) well and to work cooperatively with them. Selected cases need to be not only interesting but also hospitable to the inquiry [ 8 ] if they are to be informative and answer the research question(s). Case study sites may also be pre-selected for the researcher, with decisions being influenced by key stakeholders. For example, our selection of case study sites in the evaluation of the implementation and adoption of electronic health record systems (see Table 3 ) was heavily influenced by NHS Connecting for Health, the government agency that was responsible for overseeing the National Programme for Information Technology (NPfIT)[ 5 ]. This prominent stakeholder had already selected the NHS sites (through a competitive bidding process) to be early adopters of the electronic health record systems and had negotiated contracts that detailed the deployment timelines.

It is also important to consider in advance the likely burden and risks associated with participation for those who (or the site(s) which) comprise the case study. Of particular importance is the obligation for the researcher to think through the ethical implications of the study (e.g. the risk of inadvertently breaching anonymity or confidentiality) and to ensure that potential participants/participating sites are provided with sufficient information to make an informed choice about joining the study. The outcome of providing this information might be that the emotive burden associated with participation, or the organisational disruption associated with supporting the fieldwork, is considered so high that the individuals or sites decide against participation.

In our example of evaluating implementations of electronic health record systems, given the restricted number of early adopter sites available to us, we sought purposively to select a diverse range of implementation cases among those that were available[ 5 ]. We chose a mixture of teaching, non-teaching and Foundation Trust hospitals, and examples of each of the three electronic health record systems procured centrally by the NPfIT. At one recruited site, it quickly became apparent that access was problematic because of competing demands on that organisation. Recognising the importance of full access and co-operative working for generating rich data, the research team decided not to pursue work at that site and instead to focus on other recruited sites.

Collecting the data

In order to develop a thorough understanding of the case, the case study approach usually involves the collection of multiple sources of evidence, using a range of quantitative (e.g. questionnaires, audits and analysis of routinely collected healthcare data) and more commonly qualitative techniques (e.g. interviews, focus groups and observations). The use of multiple sources of data (data triangulation) has been advocated as a way of increasing the internal validity of a study (i.e. the extent to which the method is appropriate to answer the research question)[ 8 , 18 – 21 ]. An underlying assumption is that data collected in different ways should lead to similar conclusions, and approaching the same issue from different angles can help develop a holistic picture of the phenomenon (Table 2 )[ 4 ].

Brazier and colleagues used a mixed-methods case study approach to investigate the impact of a cancer care programme[ 22 ]. Here, quantitative measures were collected with questionnaires before, and five months after, the start of the intervention which did not yield any statistically significant results. Qualitative interviews with patients however helped provide an insight into potentially beneficial process-related aspects of the programme, such as greater, perceived patient involvement in care. The authors reported how this case study approach provided a number of contextual factors likely to influence the effectiveness of the intervention and which were not likely to have been obtained from quantitative methods alone.

In collective or multiple case studies, data collection needs to be flexible enough to allow a detailed description of each individual case to be developed (e.g. the nature of different cancer care programmes), before considering the emerging similarities and differences in cross-case comparisons (e.g. to explore why one programme is more effective than another). It is important that data sources from different cases are, where possible, broadly comparable for this purpose even though they may vary in nature and depth.

Analysing, interpreting and reporting case studies

Making sense and offering a coherent interpretation of the typically disparate sources of data (whether qualitative alone or together with quantitative) is far from straightforward. Repeated reviewing and sorting of the voluminous and detail-rich data are integral to the process of analysis. In collective case studies, it is helpful to analyse data relating to the individual component cases first, before making comparisons across cases. Attention needs to be paid to variations within each case and, where relevant, the relationship between different causes, effects and outcomes[ 23 ]. Data will need to be organised and coded to allow the key issues, both derived from the literature and emerging from the dataset, to be easily retrieved at a later stage. An initial coding frame can help capture these issues and can be applied systematically to the whole dataset with the aid of a qualitative data analysis software package.

The Framework approach is a practical approach, comprising of five stages (familiarisation; identifying a thematic framework; indexing; charting; mapping and interpretation) , to managing and analysing large datasets particularly if time is limited, as was the case in our study of recruitment of South Asians into asthma research (Table 1 )[ 3 , 24 ]. Theoretical frameworks may also play an important role in integrating different sources of data and examining emerging themes. For example, we drew on a socio-technical framework to help explain the connections between different elements - technology; people; and the organisational settings within which they worked - in our study of the introduction of electronic health record systems (Table 3 )[ 5 ]. Our study of patient safety in undergraduate curricula drew on an evaluation-based approach to design and analysis, which emphasised the importance of the academic, organisational and practice contexts through which students learn (Table 4 )[ 6 ].

Case study findings can have implications both for theory development and theory testing. They may establish, strengthen or weaken historical explanations of a case and, in certain circumstances, allow theoretical (as opposed to statistical) generalisation beyond the particular cases studied[ 12 ]. These theoretical lenses should not, however, constitute a strait-jacket and the cases should not be "forced to fit" the particular theoretical framework that is being employed.

When reporting findings, it is important to provide the reader with enough contextual information to understand the processes that were followed and how the conclusions were reached. In a collective case study, researchers may choose to present the findings from individual cases separately before amalgamating across cases. Care must be taken to ensure the anonymity of both case sites and individual participants (if agreed in advance) by allocating appropriate codes or withholding descriptors. In the example given in Table 3 , we decided against providing detailed information on the NHS sites and individual participants in order to avoid the risk of inadvertent disclosure of identities[ 5 , 25 ].

What are the potential pitfalls and how can these be avoided?

The case study approach is, as with all research, not without its limitations. When investigating the formal and informal ways undergraduate students learn about patient safety (Table 4 ), for example, we rapidly accumulated a large quantity of data. The volume of data, together with the time restrictions in place, impacted on the depth of analysis that was possible within the available resources. This highlights a more general point of the importance of avoiding the temptation to collect as much data as possible; adequate time also needs to be set aside for data analysis and interpretation of what are often highly complex datasets.

Case study research has sometimes been criticised for lacking scientific rigour and providing little basis for generalisation (i.e. producing findings that may be transferable to other settings)[ 1 ]. There are several ways to address these concerns, including: the use of theoretical sampling (i.e. drawing on a particular conceptual framework); respondent validation (i.e. participants checking emerging findings and the researcher's interpretation, and providing an opinion as to whether they feel these are accurate); and transparency throughout the research process (see Table 8 )[ 8 , 18 – 21 , 23 , 26 ]. Transparency can be achieved by describing in detail the steps involved in case selection, data collection, the reasons for the particular methods chosen, and the researcher's background and level of involvement (i.e. being explicit about how the researcher has influenced data collection and interpretation). Seeking potential, alternative explanations, and being explicit about how interpretations and conclusions were reached, help readers to judge the trustworthiness of the case study report. Stake provides a critique checklist for a case study report (Table 9 )[ 8 ].


The case study approach allows, amongst other things, critical events, interventions, policy developments and programme-based service reforms to be studied in detail in a real-life context. It should therefore be considered when an experimental design is either inappropriate to answer the research questions posed or impossible to undertake. Considering the frequency with which implementations of innovations are now taking place in healthcare settings and how well the case study approach lends itself to in-depth, complex health service research, we believe this approach should be more widely considered by researchers. Though inherently challenging, the research case study can, if carefully conceptualised and thoughtfully undertaken and reported, yield powerful insights into many important aspects of health and healthcare delivery.

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We are grateful to the participants and colleagues who contributed to the individual case studies that we have drawn on. This work received no direct funding, but it has been informed by projects funded by Asthma UK, the NHS Service Delivery Organisation, NHS Connecting for Health Evaluation Programme, and Patient Safety Research Portfolio. We would also like to thank the expert reviewers for their insightful and constructive feedback. Our thanks are also due to Dr. Allison Worth who commented on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

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Sarah Crowe & Anthony Avery

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Kathrin Cresswell, Ann Robertson & Aziz Sheikh

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AS conceived this article. SC, KC and AR wrote this paper with GH, AA and AS all commenting on various drafts. SC and AS are guarantors.

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Crowe, S., Cresswell, K., Robertson, A. et al. The case study approach. BMC Med Res Methodol 11 , 100 (2011).

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Kathmandu School <strong>of</strong> Law<br />

<strong>Importance</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong><br />

A <strong>Research</strong> Paper Presented by Narendra Man Shrestha<br />

In Partial Fulfillment <strong>of</strong> the requirements for obta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the<br />

LL.M Degree <strong>in</strong> Human Rights and Gender Justice<br />

Supervisor: Dr. Shankar Kumar Shrestha<br />

Kathmandu<br />

June 10, 2003<br />


This is to certify that Mr. Narendra Man Shrestha, a student <strong>of</strong> LL.M Ist year <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Kathmandu School <strong>of</strong> Law, has prepared a research paper titled "<strong>Importance</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong><br />

<strong>Method</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong>" under my supervision and guidance. In my observance, his<br />

research paper is found pert<strong>in</strong>ent and research oriented. I believe that this paper will fulfill the<br />

requirements as needed by that School and will be helpful for the person and body wish<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

acquire knowledge regard<strong>in</strong>g this burn<strong>in</strong>g issue <strong>of</strong> Nepal.<br />

(Dr. Shankar Kumar Shrestha)<br />

Acknowledgement<br />

I am greatly <strong>in</strong>debted to my Supervisor Dr. Shankar Kumar Shrestha, visit<strong>in</strong>g Pr<strong>of</strong>essor and<br />

legal practitioner, Chairman, Director, Coord<strong>in</strong>ator and Lectures <strong>of</strong> the Kathmandu School <strong>of</strong><br />

Law whose valuable suggestions, guidance, criticism and encouragement made me able to<br />

br<strong>in</strong>g this <strong>Research</strong> Paper <strong>in</strong>to this shape.<br />

I also would like to be equally thankful to my colleague <strong>of</strong> LL. M Program who had provided<br />

their valuable contribution and suggestions dur<strong>in</strong>g preparation <strong>of</strong> this paper.<br />

Narendra Man Shrestha<br />

LL.M Ist year<br />



PAGES<br />

(1-4)<br />

1. Introduction<br />

2. Statement <strong>of</strong> Problem and Justification<br />

3. Objective <strong>of</strong> <strong>Study</strong><br />

4. <strong>Research</strong> Questions<br />

5. Scope <strong>of</strong> <strong>Study</strong>, <strong>Method</strong>ology and Sources Data<br />

6. Organization <strong>of</strong> Paper.<br />

CHAPTER – 1 (5-8)<br />

1.1 Mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong><br />

1.2 <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong><br />

1.3 Sources <strong>of</strong> Data<br />

CHAPTER - 2 <strong>Method</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong> (9-11)<br />

2.1 Observation<br />

2.2 Questionnaire<br />

2.3 Sampl<strong>in</strong>g<br />

2.4 Interview<br />

2.5 <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong>.<br />

CHAPTER – 3 Characteristic Merit and Demerits <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong> (12-15)<br />

3.1 Characteristic <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong><br />

3.2 Merit <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong><br />

3.3 Demerit <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong>.<br />

CHAPTER – 4 (16-22)<br />

Application <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong> <strong>in</strong> Nepalese <strong>Legal</strong> System<br />

CHAPTER – 5 Conclusion and Recommendation (22-23)<br />

1. Conclusion<br />

2. Recommendation<br />

<strong>Research</strong> plays a very important role <strong>in</strong> recommend<strong>in</strong>g solutions to the<br />

exist<strong>in</strong>g problems <strong>of</strong> our society or <strong>in</strong> solv<strong>in</strong>g the already solved problems <strong>in</strong><br />

a better way. It also helps to discover or <strong>in</strong>vent new ideas and technologies.<br />

Observations, <strong>in</strong>terviews, mailed questionnaire, surveys, case studies,<br />

project, content analysis, and cause and effect analysis methods are used to<br />

carry out researches. <strong>Research</strong> is an ongo<strong>in</strong>g and cont<strong>in</strong>uous process. For<br />

pure science, experimental methods are more useful than other methods. For<br />

social science, behavioral research, observation and <strong>in</strong>-depth study methods<br />

are mostly used. Selection <strong>of</strong> methodology for a particular research depends<br />

upon the objectives and purposes <strong>of</strong> the research such as impact analysis,<br />

theory build<strong>in</strong>g and test<strong>in</strong>g, or behavioral analysis.<br />

<strong>Research</strong> methods are <strong>of</strong> qualitative and quantitative natures. In qualitative<br />

research, <strong>in</strong>formation are collected <strong>in</strong> descriptive forms whereas <strong>in</strong><br />

quantitative method <strong>in</strong>formation or data are obta<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong> numerical forms.<br />

Social research is a qualitative research. In-depth <strong>in</strong>formation are obta<strong>in</strong>ed by<br />

us<strong>in</strong>g various tools and techniques and are analyzed through comparative<br />

analysis and pattern analysis methods. Very simple mathematical tools and<br />

techniques may also be applied.<br />

<strong>Case</strong> study research is a direct method <strong>of</strong> collect<strong>in</strong>g data as it attempts to<br />

derive data directly rather than through the reports <strong>of</strong> the <strong>in</strong>dividuals<br />

<strong>in</strong>volved. <strong>Case</strong> study has particular importance <strong>in</strong> the situations that are<br />

<strong>in</strong>herently complex, such as a study <strong>of</strong> democracy <strong>in</strong> action as represented by<br />

the resolution <strong>of</strong> a social issue through discussion. <strong>Case</strong> study research<br />

technique would be <strong>in</strong>dicated <strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>vestigations and observations <strong>of</strong> the<br />

behavior <strong>of</strong> society, crim<strong>in</strong>als, Judges, Public Prosecutors and Police,<br />

<strong>in</strong>animate objects and many other phenomena, which can be <strong>in</strong>vestigated<br />

only through case study, no matter how imprecise such <strong>in</strong>vestigation may be.<br />

<strong>Case</strong> study method is one <strong>of</strong> the most important and extensively used<br />

research methods <strong>in</strong> socio-legal research. This method has been found useful<br />

<strong>in</strong> empirical research, particularly, <strong>in</strong> order to know how a man becomes<br />

crim<strong>in</strong>al or juvenile del<strong>in</strong>quent; how he can be punished or reformed, what is<br />

the condition <strong>of</strong> a court, prison; how is the perception <strong>of</strong> police public<br />

prosecutors and judges towards gender issues etc. This research technique<br />

can be used to study the behavior <strong>of</strong> society, crim<strong>in</strong>als, Judges, Public<br />

Prosecutors and Polices. Neither has any ample studies on this topic, with<br />

the objective <strong>of</strong> impart<strong>in</strong>g theoretical knowledge, been undertaken nor has<br />

any worth mention<strong>in</strong>g legal research been found <strong>in</strong> Nepal <strong>in</strong> this area. Due to<br />

lack <strong>of</strong> tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and knowledge <strong>of</strong> research, the concerned researchers are<br />

less aware about the methodology. The research works have become<br />

<strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly challeng<strong>in</strong>g and complicated to such researchers. The<br />

<strong>Research</strong>es, conducted by them, are not found to be <strong>in</strong> the level as expected<br />

by the researchers themselves and organizations conduct<strong>in</strong>g the research.<br />

Ow<strong>in</strong>g to this, it has become necessary to give appropriate tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and<br />

knowledge to the researchers <strong>in</strong> order to br<strong>in</strong>g reliable and correct result<br />

from the researches.<br />

Hence, while writ<strong>in</strong>g this paper I would like to particularly focus on the<br />

“<strong>Importance</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong>".<br />

The ma<strong>in</strong> objective <strong>of</strong> the study <strong>of</strong> this paper is to have understand<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

discussion over " <strong>Importance</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong>".<br />

This paper will cover the areas as follows:<br />

(a) Mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> research, legal research, sources <strong>of</strong> case study method.<br />

(b) <strong>Method</strong> <strong>of</strong> legal research.<br />

(c) Characteristic merit and demerit <strong>of</strong> case study method.<br />

(d) Application <strong>of</strong> case study method <strong>in</strong> Nepalese legal system.<br />

(e) Conclusion and recommendation.<br />

4. <strong>Research</strong> questions:<br />

This paper deals with the questions as follows:<br />

(a) What is a case study method<br />

(b) What are the advantages that can be found from research<br />

(c) Whether a case study method <strong>of</strong> legal research is equally applicable to<br />

every research or not<br />

(d) Whether the case study method <strong>of</strong> research have been used <strong>in</strong> the<br />

legal research <strong>of</strong> Nepal or not<br />

5. Scope <strong>of</strong> the study, methodology and sources <strong>of</strong> data:<br />

This paper deals only with the “<strong>Importance</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Legal</strong><br />

<strong>Research</strong>” <strong>in</strong> descriptive way keep<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> view the documentary sources<br />

readily available and the <strong>in</strong>ternational and national practices undertaken<br />

regard<strong>in</strong>g the legal and social researches.<br />

This paper will focus ma<strong>in</strong>ly on primary sources. Secondary <strong>in</strong>formation<br />

published <strong>in</strong> national and <strong>in</strong>ternational periodicals, literatures, books and<br />

other sources shall be referred as well.<br />

6. Organization <strong>of</strong> paper:<br />

This paper will be organized <strong>in</strong> Five Chapters. The First Chapter will deal with<br />

the mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> research, legal research, sources <strong>of</strong> case study method. Second<br />

Chapter will deal with <strong>Method</strong> <strong>of</strong> legal research. Third Chapter will deal with<br />

characteristic merit and demerit <strong>of</strong> case study method. Fourth Chapter will deal<br />

with Application <strong>of</strong> case study method <strong>in</strong> Nepalese legal system. F<strong>in</strong>ally, the<br />

fifth Chapter will deal with Conclusion and recommendation.<br />

Chapter -1<br />

Mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> <strong>Research</strong>, <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong> and Sources <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong><br />

1.1 Mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> research:<br />

Generally, the term "research" is taken as an academic activity or as an art <strong>of</strong><br />

scientific <strong>in</strong>vestigation. It is not only an important prerequisite for dynamic<br />

social order but also a systematic and objective analysis <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>formation that is<br />

discovered. It is an established fact that the research is a foundation <strong>of</strong> the<br />

progress and prosperity achieved and may be achieved <strong>in</strong> future.<br />

Nobody can get specific and deep knowledge on any matter without hav<strong>in</strong>g<br />

research that is why, research plays significant role <strong>in</strong> ga<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g knowledge. As<br />

a result, research can be def<strong>in</strong>ed as a systematic search for atta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g deep<br />

knowledge.<br />

The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary def<strong>in</strong>ed the term "research" as a<br />

careful <strong>in</strong>vestigation or <strong>in</strong>quiry especially through search for new facts <strong>in</strong> any<br />

breech <strong>of</strong> knowledge. 1<br />

Encyclopedia <strong>of</strong> social science def<strong>in</strong>ed it as the manipulation <strong>of</strong> th<strong>in</strong>gs,<br />

concept or symbols for generaliz<strong>in</strong>g to extend, correct or verify knowledge,<br />

whether that knowledge aids <strong>in</strong> construction <strong>of</strong> theory or <strong>in</strong> the practice <strong>of</strong> an<br />

art. 2<br />

Similarly, some other writers def<strong>in</strong>es it as the careful, diligent and<br />

exhaustive <strong>in</strong>vestigation <strong>of</strong> a specific subject matters, which has its aim, the<br />

advancement <strong>of</strong> mak<strong>in</strong>g knowledge. 3<br />

Keep<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> view the said def<strong>in</strong>itions, the term "research" can be def<strong>in</strong>ed as a<br />

method <strong>of</strong> ga<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g specific knowledge. It is not only a major factor for<br />

human-development but also <strong>of</strong> civilization. Similarly, research not only<br />

plays a signification role <strong>in</strong> academic scenario but also plays a vital role <strong>in</strong><br />

practical life <strong>of</strong> whole humank<strong>in</strong>d.<br />

There are various methods used for pursu<strong>in</strong>g research. <strong>Method</strong> applicable for<br />

research depends on the objectives <strong>of</strong> the research for <strong>in</strong>stance impact<br />

analysis, theory <strong>in</strong>ception or experiment, etc. Generally, research methods<br />

are divided as qualitative and quantitative, depend<strong>in</strong>g on its nature. The<br />

former method is understood as descriptive research and the latter as<br />

numerical. The qualitative research is most suitable for social research.<br />

1.2 <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong>:<br />

Generally, law is enacted to regulate the human conduct for the welfare <strong>of</strong><br />

humank<strong>in</strong>d. It is considered that law should be enacted to protect the <strong>in</strong>terest<br />

<strong>of</strong> a person, society, and the county as a whole. The goal <strong>of</strong> legal research can<br />

not be dist<strong>in</strong>guished from the goal <strong>of</strong> law. As law is directly related with the<br />

social science, its research is also automatically related with the research <strong>of</strong><br />

social science.<br />

1 . A S Hornby, Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, P. 996.<br />

2 . D. Slesigner, and M. Stephonson, Encylopedia <strong>of</strong> Social Science, P. 212.<br />

3 . S.R. Myneni, <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong> <strong>Method</strong>ology, P. 1.<br />

This is the age <strong>of</strong> democracy and good governance. Democracy and good<br />

governance depend upon the rule <strong>of</strong> law. In democratic society, law is<br />

changed for welfare <strong>of</strong> the people and society along with the pace <strong>of</strong> time.<br />

Alternatively, law shall not be constra<strong>in</strong>t for the development rather it be<br />

facilitator. That is why law needs charges. Similarly, legal research is<br />

essential to have changes <strong>in</strong> law for socialization and betterment <strong>of</strong> the<br />

people and society.<br />

Now-a-days, legal research is not limited only on the analyz<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>al<br />

behavior, activities <strong>of</strong> public, court, public prosecutors, legal practitioners<br />

etc. but it also <strong>in</strong>cludes the protection <strong>of</strong> environment <strong>of</strong> all creatures <strong>in</strong> the<br />

world and the development as well. As a result, legal research plays crucial<br />

role for the welfare <strong>of</strong> the humank<strong>in</strong>d and is more important than others to<br />

br<strong>in</strong>g positive changes <strong>in</strong> our society and at the end <strong>in</strong> the whole humank<strong>in</strong>d.<br />

1.3 Sources <strong>of</strong> case study:<br />

Personal documents and life history documents are referred 4 as important<br />

sources <strong>of</strong> data for case study method:<br />

1. Personal Documents: Public figures generally keep diaries; write their<br />

autobiographies or memoirs. These documents conta<strong>in</strong> the description <strong>of</strong><br />

the events and their reactions towards them with direct <strong>in</strong>volvement or as<br />

a witness <strong>of</strong> a distant spectator nature. They reveal direct <strong>in</strong>formation<br />

regard<strong>in</strong>g the structure dynamics and nature <strong>of</strong> problem.<br />

2. Life History Documents: Life history is the study <strong>of</strong> various events <strong>of</strong><br />

respondents’ life together with attempt to f<strong>in</strong>d their social significance.<br />

Life history differs from pure historical narrative facts. While pure<br />

narrative facts aim at narrat<strong>in</strong>g the facts only, life history aims at reveal<strong>in</strong>g<br />

4 . Supra note 3 at P.216.<br />

the mean<strong>in</strong>g and significance <strong>of</strong> the events <strong>in</strong> the context <strong>of</strong> motivat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

factors <strong>of</strong> social life. Life history data is generally gathered through<br />

prolonged <strong>in</strong>terviews with the respondents. Various other methods may<br />

be adopted to get correct <strong>in</strong>formation such as periodical conferences,<br />

impromptu conservations, dramatic productions, observation and post<br />

experimental <strong>in</strong>terviews, etc. 5<br />

In the course <strong>of</strong> case study, Thomas and Znaniecki have made extensive use<br />

<strong>of</strong> life history documents and made them their chief <strong>in</strong>strument <strong>in</strong> reach<strong>in</strong>g<br />

out the actual experiences and attitudes <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>dividuals and groups as well as<br />

<strong>in</strong> secur<strong>in</strong>g a cross section <strong>of</strong> the entire process <strong>of</strong> their social becom<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

They scrut<strong>in</strong>ized a large number <strong>of</strong> personal diaries, letters, autobiographies<br />

and other types <strong>of</strong> case materials with a view to get at the concrete details <strong>of</strong><br />

the <strong>in</strong>dividual and collective behavior <strong>of</strong> persons <strong>in</strong> a given cultural context.<br />

6<br />

5 Id., P 217.<br />

6 T.S.Wilk<strong>in</strong>son and P.L Bhandarkar, <strong>Method</strong>ology y and Technique <strong>of</strong> Social <strong>Research</strong>, P. 244.<br />

Chapter -2<br />

2.1 <strong>Method</strong>s <strong>of</strong> legal research:<br />

In pursu<strong>in</strong>g research for disclos<strong>in</strong>g facts or prov<strong>in</strong>g a hypothesis true or false,<br />

various k<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong> methods can be applied for the successful research. The<br />

follow<strong>in</strong>g research methods collectively or <strong>in</strong>dividually can be applied for<br />

the successful research as the ma<strong>in</strong> methods.<br />

2.1 Observation: Information can be received by observ<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

visit<strong>in</strong>g and view<strong>in</strong>g the place, society, events or the th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

pert<strong>in</strong>ent to the study or research. Observation can be taken as<br />

primary and reliable source <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>formation. If a researcher is<br />

careful, he/she can get the po<strong>in</strong>ts that may play the significant<br />

role <strong>in</strong> his research or study. Observation is a method that is<br />

common <strong>in</strong> the research <strong>of</strong> legal and social science.<br />

Observation should be guided by a specific research purpose,<br />

the <strong>in</strong>formation receive from the observation should be<br />

recorded and subjected to checks on the trail <strong>of</strong> reliability. 7<br />

2.2 Questionnaire: In questionnaire method, a researcher<br />

develops a form conta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g such questions pert<strong>in</strong>ent to his<br />

study. Generally, the researcher prepares yes/ No questions or<br />

short answer questions. In questionnaire method, researcher<br />

distributes such forms to the people to whom he/she deems<br />

appropriate. The people to whom the questionnaires have been<br />

distributed, should answer that what they have known by fill<strong>in</strong>g<br />

out the form and return it to researcher.<br />

7 .George J. Mouly, The Science <strong>of</strong> Educational <strong>Research</strong>, P.284.<br />

2.3 Sampl<strong>in</strong>g: When the subject <strong>of</strong> research is vague,<br />

comprehensive and when each <strong>in</strong>dicator can not be taken by<br />

virtue <strong>of</strong> f<strong>in</strong>ancial constra<strong>in</strong>t, time and complexity, etc. then the<br />

researcher can randomly collect data/sample depend<strong>in</strong>g on the<br />

reason. This is called as sampl<strong>in</strong>g method. For <strong>in</strong>stance, <strong>in</strong> a<br />

demographic research, part <strong>of</strong> population represent various<br />

groups can be taken <strong>in</strong>to consideration. 8 That is why, it is said<br />

that sample is a method that saves time and money.<br />

2.4 Interviews: A researcher can receive <strong>in</strong>formation sought by<br />

him/her ask<strong>in</strong>g people concerned through <strong>in</strong>terview. It is a<br />

direct method <strong>of</strong> receiv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>formation. Interview can be<br />

generally held ask<strong>in</strong>g questions <strong>in</strong> face-to-face contact to the<br />

person or persons and sometimes through telephone<br />

conversation. This method is common <strong>in</strong> the research <strong>of</strong> legal<br />

and social science. In this method, the researcher has to use less<br />

skill and knowledge to receive <strong>in</strong>formation he/she had sought.<br />

Interview is known as an art <strong>of</strong> receiv<strong>in</strong>g pert<strong>in</strong>ent <strong>in</strong>formation.<br />

In the op<strong>in</strong>ion <strong>of</strong> P.V. Young, <strong>in</strong>terview can be taken as a<br />

systematic method by which a person enters more or less<br />

imag<strong>in</strong>atively <strong>in</strong>to the life <strong>of</strong> a stranger. 9<br />

2.5 <strong>Case</strong> study: <strong>Case</strong> study is taken as one <strong>of</strong> the important and<br />

reliable methods for legal research. <strong>Case</strong> study can be def<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

as a method <strong>of</strong> research where facts and grounds <strong>of</strong> each legal<br />

issue are dealt with by tak<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>dividual case.<br />

8 . Id., P. 238.<br />

9 . Supra note 3 at P. 132.<br />

P.V. Young po<strong>in</strong>ted out that case study is a method <strong>of</strong> explor<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

analyz<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> life <strong>of</strong> a social unit such as a person, a family, an <strong>in</strong>stitution, a<br />

cultural group or even entire community. 10<br />

Goode and Hatt states that case study is a way <strong>of</strong> organiz<strong>in</strong>g social data so as<br />

to preserve the utility character <strong>of</strong> the social object be<strong>in</strong>g studied. 11<br />

Keep<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> view to the matters as referred to <strong>in</strong> above, we can state here that<br />

the case study is a method <strong>of</strong> legal research to explore and analyze the fact<br />

and data <strong>of</strong> a social unit and to organize social data for prescription <strong>of</strong> useful<br />

character and society.<br />

Chapter -3<br />

Characteristics, Merits and Demerits <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong>.<br />

10 . Id., P. 157.<br />

11 . Ibid.<br />

3.1 Characteristics <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong>: Characteristics <strong>of</strong> the case study<br />

method can be described shortly as follows:<br />

1. Any researcher can hold research <strong>in</strong>to one s<strong>in</strong>gle or more social unit<br />

such as a person, family, society and so on for the accomplishment <strong>of</strong><br />

the aim <strong>of</strong> his/her study under this method. He/she can hold<br />

comprehensive and <strong>in</strong>tensive study <strong>in</strong> different aspects <strong>of</strong> the unit so<br />

selected. Under this method, he/she can give the weight and<br />

consideration towards all the aspects <strong>of</strong> a person, group or society so<br />

selected for study. All aspects can be deeply and <strong>in</strong>tensively studied.<br />

2. Any researcher does not only hold the study to f<strong>in</strong>d out how many<br />

crimes have been committed by a man but also deeply hold study <strong>in</strong>to<br />

causes that forces or abets him to commit such crimes. In this<br />

example, one <strong>of</strong> the ma<strong>in</strong> objectives <strong>of</strong> the researcher could be to give<br />

suggestion to referr<strong>in</strong>g the crim<strong>in</strong>als.<br />

3. Under this method, any researcher can endeavor to know the<br />

relationship <strong>of</strong> causal factors <strong>in</strong>terl<strong>in</strong>ked.<br />

4. Under this method, all the related aspects <strong>of</strong> the unit, which is <strong>in</strong><br />

subject to study, can be directly or <strong>in</strong>directly studied<br />

5. <strong>Case</strong> study method helps to f<strong>in</strong>d out the useful data and enables to<br />

generalize the knowledge also.<br />

6. The ma<strong>in</strong> characteristics <strong>of</strong> the case study method <strong>in</strong>cludes cont<strong>in</strong>u<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

completeness, validity, and data as it deals with the life <strong>of</strong> social unit<br />

or units or society as whole.<br />

3.2 Merits <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong>: Merits <strong>of</strong> case study method can be<br />

described briefly as follows:<br />

1. The case study helps to study and understand the human nature and<br />

conducts very <strong>in</strong>tensively. As a result, any researcher can formulate a<br />

valid hypothesis.<br />

2. Any researcher can get actual and exemplary records <strong>of</strong> experience that<br />

may be useful as guidel<strong>in</strong>es to others life as this method carries out<br />

<strong>in</strong>tensive study <strong>of</strong> all aspects <strong>of</strong> a unit or a problem selected for research.<br />

3. This case study method is very useful <strong>in</strong> sampl<strong>in</strong>g as it efficiently and<br />

orderly classifies the units selected for research based on data and<br />

<strong>in</strong>formation so collected.<br />

4. Under the case study, any researcher can undertake one or more research<br />

method(s) under the exist<strong>in</strong>g circumstances. He/she can use various<br />

methods as <strong>in</strong>terviews, questionnaires, report, sampl<strong>in</strong>g and similar other<br />

methods.<br />

5. As this method emphasizes historical analysis, this method is taken as a<br />

means <strong>of</strong> know<strong>in</strong>g and understand<strong>in</strong>g the past life <strong>of</strong> a social unit. That is<br />

why; it can suggest the possible measures to be taken for hav<strong>in</strong>g<br />

improvements <strong>in</strong> present life by the lesson <strong>of</strong> past life. In other words, it<br />

is said that the old is gold and morn<strong>in</strong>g show the day.<br />

6. Under this case study method, any researcher can f<strong>in</strong>d out new helpful<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs as it holds perfect study <strong>of</strong> sociological materials that can represent<br />

real image <strong>of</strong> experience.<br />

7. Under this case study method, any research may <strong>in</strong>crease his/her<br />

analytical ability and skill <strong>of</strong> the study <strong>of</strong> practical experiences.<br />

8. This method makes possible the study, to br<strong>in</strong>g positive changes <strong>in</strong> the<br />

society. As this method holds overall study <strong>of</strong> life <strong>of</strong> a social unit, the<br />

researcher can know and understand the changes occurred <strong>in</strong> our society<br />

and can suggest to make corrections <strong>in</strong> human behavior for the welfare, as<br />

well.<br />

9. As this case study method holds study <strong>of</strong> all aspects <strong>of</strong> a social unit, terms<br />

<strong>of</strong> past, present and future time, it gives the matured knowledge that<br />

could also be useful to his/her personal and public life.<br />

10. This case study method is also taken as <strong>in</strong>dispensable and significant as<br />

regards to tak<strong>in</strong>g decision on many management issues. <strong>Case</strong> data are also<br />

very useful for diagnosis and thereby <strong>of</strong> practical case issues. It can be<br />

taken as an example to be followed <strong>in</strong> future.<br />

3.3 Demerits <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong>: Despite its merits as referred to <strong>in</strong><br />

above, demerits <strong>of</strong> the case study method can be described shortly as<br />

follows:<br />

1. This case study method is a very vague process. There is no mechanism<br />

to control researcher. Generalization is almost impossible to a larger<br />

similar population.<br />

2. Under this case study method, letters and other documents can be used. A<br />

write up is generally prepared to impress and give undue <strong>in</strong>fluence to<br />

personal matters. It always depends on the personal feel<strong>in</strong>g and thought.<br />

As a result, the study <strong>of</strong> the researcher may be worthless and mean<strong>in</strong>gless<br />

by virtue <strong>of</strong> possible occurrence <strong>of</strong> distortion.<br />

3. Under this case study method, there is no limitation <strong>of</strong> study. The<br />

researcher always f<strong>in</strong>ds difficulties <strong>in</strong> decid<strong>in</strong>g when he/she should stop<br />

to collect data for his/her study. He/she may f<strong>in</strong>d all th<strong>in</strong>gs to be<br />

pert<strong>in</strong>ent.<br />

4. This case study method is always based on several assumptions.<br />

However, sometimes, they may not be realistic. Under such<br />

circumstances, such data should be tested.<br />

5. Under this case study method, the result is drawn up on the basis <strong>of</strong> all<br />

post experiences. Collection <strong>of</strong> much data and <strong>in</strong>formation may lead to<br />

confusion to f<strong>in</strong>d out pert<strong>in</strong>ent and specific <strong>in</strong>formation.<br />

6. This case study method is based on comparison with the post life.<br />

However, human value, attitude, behavior, reactions, circumstance are<br />

very wide and differ with each other. It is difficult to compare from one<br />

another.<br />

7. This case study method always collects post <strong>in</strong>formation and data <strong>of</strong> the<br />

society. However, there is no system <strong>of</strong> check<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

8. This case study method is time consum<strong>in</strong>g, expensive and complex.<br />

Chapter -4<br />

Application <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong> <strong>in</strong> Nepalese <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong>.<br />

In terms <strong>of</strong> any discipl<strong>in</strong>e research, Nepal is still <strong>in</strong> primitive stage. Shruties,<br />

Smirties and Dharmashastra are the ma<strong>in</strong> source <strong>of</strong> H<strong>in</strong>du religion and<br />

Nepalese legal system has been found based ma<strong>in</strong>ly on that. Hermits<br />

specified the norms as rules to regulate human conduct on the basis <strong>of</strong> such<br />

scriptures. Manu Smriti, Yagyabalkya Smriti are examples <strong>of</strong> legal research<br />

<strong>of</strong> ancient time. However, they too are limited only <strong>in</strong> law. Similarly, we can<br />

also take Balmiki Ramayan (religious story <strong>of</strong> God Ram and Sita) as<br />

example <strong>of</strong> case study carried out by Balmiki. Even though he wrote life<br />

circle <strong>of</strong> the K<strong>in</strong>g Ram and Sita, he specified some practical and important<br />

legal aspects that are still pert<strong>in</strong>ent and solvent.<br />

Mundhum was an excellent example <strong>of</strong> legal research <strong>in</strong> the Kirant period,<br />

which were applied as the law at that time. In the pace <strong>of</strong> the time, various<br />

scriptures had been <strong>in</strong>troduced as the law.<br />

In Malla Period, K<strong>in</strong>g Jayasthiti Malla had <strong>in</strong>vited four Orthodox H<strong>in</strong>du<br />

Brahm<strong>in</strong> from northern India to frame a legal code. They framed a legal code<br />

named Manaba Nayasastra (Social Justice). This book is considered as good<br />

book <strong>of</strong> legal research <strong>of</strong> that time.<br />

Jung Bahadur Rana, then Prime M<strong>in</strong>ister <strong>of</strong> Nepal visited Great Brita<strong>in</strong> and<br />

France. He was very much impressed by the Napoleon Code so existed <strong>in</strong><br />

France at that time. After his return from the said countries, he separated law<br />

from dharma and enacted Muluki A<strong>in</strong> (Comprehensive Country Code) <strong>in</strong><br />

1910 B.S. This code bears the greatest value <strong>in</strong> the Nepalese legal history<br />

and legal research as well. The New Muluki A<strong>in</strong>, 2020 (1963) can be taken<br />

as good legal research.<br />

Many researches have been done <strong>in</strong> the socio-economic fields, but the<br />

researches <strong>in</strong> the legal fields are still at the primary stage as compared to<br />

other fields. The reason beh<strong>in</strong>d this is political suppression. When legal<br />

aspects are concerned, no freedom is given to the people, and to<br />

governmental and non-governmental agencies to carry out research activities<br />

<strong>in</strong> a free and fair environment. Then, no academic <strong>in</strong>stitution was there to<br />

provide education <strong>in</strong> legal research. Tribhuvan University, the only<br />

university <strong>of</strong> that time, used to provide education regard<strong>in</strong>g research <strong>in</strong> the<br />

field <strong>of</strong> social science but that is also found <strong>in</strong>appropriate for carry<strong>in</strong>g out the<br />

research activities. His Majesty’s Government <strong>of</strong> Nepal has established Law<br />

Reform Commission on 2039/6/1(Sept 17, 1982) to carry out legislative<br />

draft<strong>in</strong>g based on the legal research but due to the lack <strong>of</strong> tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and tra<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

manpower this commission is still unable to meet the objectives as sought by<br />

the government and presently it is <strong>in</strong> a defunct state. Another factor is lack <strong>of</strong><br />

resources to carry out the legal researches. His Majesty’s Government has<br />

never made any provision to f<strong>in</strong>ancially assist any non-governmental<br />

organization <strong>in</strong> order to support research activities carried out <strong>in</strong> the legal<br />

field other than to the governmental projects. After the restoration <strong>of</strong><br />

democracy and promulgation <strong>of</strong> new Constitution <strong>of</strong> the K<strong>in</strong>gdom <strong>of</strong> Nepal<br />

(1990) <strong>in</strong> 1990, the practices <strong>of</strong> legal research have begun thereafter that is<br />

too not <strong>in</strong> many numbers. In the Constitution <strong>of</strong> the K<strong>in</strong>gdom <strong>of</strong> Nepal<br />

(1990), human rights, rule <strong>of</strong> law and <strong>in</strong>dependent judiciary have been taken<br />

as the basic structure <strong>of</strong> the Constitution, and Nepal became a party to the<br />

<strong>in</strong>ternational <strong>in</strong>struments relat<strong>in</strong>g to human rights and so on, and democracy,<br />

good governance and anticorruption have been undertaken as the nonchallengeable<br />

norms <strong>of</strong> the state policy. As per the need for research <strong>in</strong> the<br />

field <strong>of</strong> human rights, rule <strong>of</strong> law, <strong>in</strong>dependence <strong>of</strong> judiciary, democracy,<br />

good governance and anti-corruption and to support <strong>in</strong> the said fields, various<br />

donor agencies such as DANIDA, USAID, GTZ, JICA etc. have been<br />

provid<strong>in</strong>g f<strong>in</strong>ancial and technical supports to His Majesty’s Government <strong>of</strong><br />

Nepal and other non-governmental organizations as such to carry out<br />

esearch activities relat<strong>in</strong>g to aforesaid fields. Over the years, many<br />

universities and law schools such as Eastern University, Western University,<br />

Kathmandu University and Kathmandu School <strong>of</strong> Law were established.<br />

These universities and schools are putt<strong>in</strong>g their efforts to produce best<br />

researchers <strong>in</strong> the field <strong>of</strong> research so concerned. The <strong>in</strong>itiations <strong>of</strong> the said<br />

universities and schools def<strong>in</strong>itely can produce tra<strong>in</strong>ed manpower as required<br />

for the country. Keep<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> view the said matters, it is note worthy to state<br />

here that credit <strong>of</strong> develop<strong>in</strong>g researches <strong>in</strong> the field <strong>of</strong> law goes to the<br />

people <strong>of</strong> Nepal who restored democracy overthrow<strong>in</strong>g the Partyless<br />

Panchayat System and the donor agencies and non-governmental agencies<br />

who have made their significant f<strong>in</strong>ancial as well technical assistance.<br />

4.1 Some <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> Made <strong>in</strong> Nepal:<br />

1. Late K<strong>in</strong>g Birendra constituted the Royal Judicial Reforms Commission<br />

on 2039/6/1 B.S. for recommendation to br<strong>in</strong>g refers <strong>in</strong> judicial system <strong>in</strong><br />

order to impart prompt Justice. At first, the Commission collected<br />

prelim<strong>in</strong>ary data and <strong>in</strong>formation from the concerned <strong>of</strong>fices based on the<br />

problems prevalent <strong>in</strong> the judicial system and circulated them to the<br />

concerned body, and called for <strong>in</strong>formation, suggestions and<br />

recommendation from all the people through the media such as Radio<br />

Nepal and Gorkhapatra. It also made the spot visits <strong>in</strong> almost all districts<br />

<strong>in</strong> order to collect data, <strong>in</strong>formation, and suggestion.The commission<br />

organized number <strong>of</strong> sem<strong>in</strong>ars and workshops with the participation <strong>of</strong><br />

the concerned stakeholders for gett<strong>in</strong>g suggestions and recommendations.<br />

It also carried out comparative study <strong>of</strong> Nepalese legal history and<br />

present situation. The commission submitted a report with the<br />

comprehensive recommendation for judicial system refers on the ground<br />

and <strong>of</strong> data and <strong>in</strong>formation collected by it from its own study,<br />

observation. It can be taken as an example <strong>of</strong> comprehensive case study<br />

method.<br />

2. The Center for <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong> and Resource Development (CelRRd)<br />

carried out a research on a Base L<strong>in</strong>e Survey <strong>of</strong> Nepalese Crim<strong>in</strong>al<br />

Justice System <strong>in</strong> 2001/2002 through different qualitative research<br />

methods. Forty cases <strong>of</strong> prison were studied from 10 districts with the<br />

representation <strong>of</strong> Hill, Mounta<strong>in</strong> and Terai regions. Interviews and group<br />

discussions were applied for collection <strong>of</strong> data and relevant <strong>in</strong>formation.<br />

Such cases were studied with views <strong>of</strong> torture, police behavior, effective<br />

court procedures and legal assistance. The CELLRRD reached <strong>in</strong>to<br />

conclusion that torture was rampant, police behavior was discouragious,<br />

court procedures were not prompt and only two person out <strong>of</strong> forty case<br />

got free legal aid service.<br />

3. Forum for Protection <strong>of</strong> Public Interest (Pro-Public) carried our research<br />

on study on Gender and judges. The ma<strong>in</strong> objective <strong>of</strong> the study was to<br />

f<strong>in</strong>d out whether the judiciary imparts justice equal to all without<br />

discrim<strong>in</strong>ation on the grounds <strong>of</strong> sex. Under this research, 12 District<br />

under three regions were selected. Almost 33 judges were <strong>in</strong>terviewed<br />

specially on the issues <strong>of</strong> women and violence, domestic violence,<br />

women and secular crimes dowry and (CEDAW). 26 women lawyers, 26<br />

women litigants, 21 women victims were also <strong>in</strong>terviewed. Several<br />

different cases concerned with the violence aga<strong>in</strong>st women, rape,<br />

traffick<strong>in</strong>g, divorce, partition, polygamy and establishment <strong>of</strong> relationship<br />

were studied. One <strong>of</strong> the important aspects <strong>of</strong> this research was to know<br />

the environment <strong>of</strong> courtrooms while try<strong>in</strong>g the case sued for justice to<br />

women. The research had the objectives <strong>of</strong> exam<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g how the<br />

environment prevailed <strong>in</strong> the courtrooms affect women and to evaluate<br />

the treatment rendered and deal<strong>in</strong>gs made with target groups. The study<br />

found out that environment <strong>of</strong> courtrooms were normally noisy and<br />

crowded and language particularly used <strong>in</strong> rape case was very rough. 12 It<br />

was the ma<strong>in</strong> reason for rema<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g legal research backward <strong>in</strong> Nepal as<br />

there were no academic <strong>in</strong>stitutions to carry out such legal researches.<br />

4. His Majesty’s Government <strong>of</strong> Nepal, by a decision dated 2057/5/1(Aug<br />

17, 2000), constituted the Crim<strong>in</strong>al Justice Adm<strong>in</strong>istration <strong>Study</strong> and<br />

Recommendation Task Force <strong>in</strong> the Convernorship <strong>of</strong> Attorney-General<br />

<strong>of</strong> the K<strong>in</strong>gdom <strong>of</strong> Nepal for reform<strong>in</strong>g the Crim<strong>in</strong>al Justice<br />

Adm<strong>in</strong>istration <strong>in</strong> consistent with the <strong>in</strong>ternational <strong>in</strong>struments to which<br />

Nepal is a party and modify the Penal Code and Crim<strong>in</strong>al Procedure Code<br />

as per the necessity <strong>of</strong> the time, which are <strong>in</strong> practice <strong>in</strong> Nepal as per the<br />

Crim<strong>in</strong>al Justice Adm<strong>in</strong>istration framed dur<strong>in</strong>g the period <strong>of</strong> Rana<br />

regime. The said Task Force submitted a Draft and a Report <strong>of</strong> Penal<br />

Code and Crim<strong>in</strong>al Procedure Code, 2058 (2001) on 2058/4/24 (Aug 8,<br />

2002). For preparation <strong>of</strong> said reports, the Task Force observed 167<br />

numbers <strong>of</strong> crim<strong>in</strong>al laws prevail<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> Nepal, provisions <strong>of</strong> 14 Chapters<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Part 3 and provisions <strong>of</strong> 10 Chapters <strong>of</strong> Part 4 <strong>of</strong> the Muluki A<strong>in</strong>,<br />

2020 (1963) (the Country Code), which had been annexed as state case or<br />

non-state case as per the State <strong>Case</strong>s Act, 2049(1992).<br />

12 . Forum for Protection <strong>of</strong> Public Interest, A <strong>Study</strong> on Gender and Judge, P.<br />

Chapter - 5<br />

Conclusion and Recommendation<br />

5.1 Conclusion:<br />

<strong>Research</strong> is a cont<strong>in</strong>uous scientific and systematic process and activity.<br />

<strong>Research</strong> always tries to discoverer new th<strong>in</strong>gs. <strong>Research</strong> depends upon its<br />

objectives, nature and purpose. Some researcher may take objectives <strong>of</strong><br />

impact analysis, thereby build<strong>in</strong>g, test<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> hypothesis and behavioral<br />

analysis and so on. <strong>Legal</strong> research is regarded as a port <strong>of</strong> social science. It is<br />

directly related with legal reforms and aims to solve the problems.<br />

<strong>Case</strong> study method is property applied <strong>in</strong> <strong>Legal</strong> research. <strong>Case</strong> study method<br />

can be applied to study <strong>of</strong> court proactive, practice <strong>of</strong> judges, lawyers,<br />

prosecutor police and so on. As case study method helps to explore and<br />

analyze the life <strong>of</strong> social unit selected for research, it can play a significant<br />

role <strong>in</strong> legal research. This method always requires a deep and m<strong>in</strong>ute study.<br />

It can be taken as the best method <strong>of</strong> collect<strong>in</strong>g relevant <strong>in</strong>formation and data<br />

concern<strong>in</strong>g an <strong>in</strong>dividual, a family or a group <strong>of</strong> persons.<br />

Weaknesses such as generalization regard<strong>in</strong>g case study method can be<br />

easily resolved through tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g atta<strong>in</strong>ed on the modern method <strong>of</strong> collect<strong>in</strong>g<br />

data and <strong>in</strong>formation us<strong>in</strong>g the scientific techniques <strong>of</strong> gather<strong>in</strong>g, classify<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and process<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> data. Even though this method is most useful it would be<br />

better if we could use case study method accompanied by other methods as<br />

and when necessary.<br />

5.2 Recommendation:<br />

S<strong>in</strong>ce this paper is not a case study itself, there are a few recommendations<br />

to make. Any researcher should know well about various methods <strong>of</strong><br />

qualitative and quantitative research. He/she should be careful about<br />

generaliz<strong>in</strong>g any f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

It would be better if academic <strong>in</strong>stitutions could be encouraged to hold<br />

research for mak<strong>in</strong>g reforms <strong>in</strong> law. Before enactment <strong>of</strong> law, government<br />

should encourage and promote academic <strong>in</strong>stitutions to conduct research.<br />

Government should take <strong>in</strong>to consideration the outcomes <strong>of</strong> such researches<br />

accord<strong>in</strong>g to its gravity.<br />

Bibliography<br />

1. A S Hornby, Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 5th edition,<br />

Oxford University Press: 1998.<br />

2. Center for <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong> and Resource Development (CelRRd), A<br />

Base L<strong>in</strong>e Survey <strong>of</strong> Nepalese Crim<strong>in</strong>al Justice System, Kathmandu:<br />

2001/2002.<br />

3. D.N. Ja<strong>in</strong>, and et. al, <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong> and <strong>Method</strong>ology, Indian Law<br />

Institute, Delhi: 1983.<br />

4. D. Slesigner and M. Stephonson, Encyclopedia <strong>of</strong> Social Science,<br />

Vol. IX, Mac Millan, 1930.<br />

5. Goode & Hatt, <strong>Method</strong> <strong>of</strong> Social <strong>Research</strong>, Mc. Grow Hill Book Co.,<br />

Tokyo, Japan: 1985.<br />

6. George J. Mouly, The Science <strong>of</strong> Social <strong>Research</strong> <strong>of</strong> Educational<br />

<strong>Research</strong>, 1 st Indian repr<strong>in</strong>t, Eurasia Publish<strong>in</strong>g House (Pvt.) Ltd,<br />

India: 1964.<br />

7. Naryan Belbase and Suchata Pyakural, A <strong>Study</strong> on Gender and<br />

Judges, Pro Public, Ist edition, Kathmandu: 2002.<br />

8. Report Submitted to His Majesty's K<strong>in</strong>g by Royal Judicial Reform<br />

Commission, 2040 B.S, Kathmandu: 2040.<br />

9. S.R. Myeni, <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong> <strong>Method</strong>ology, 2nd edition, Allabahad<br />

Law Agency, India: 2001.<br />

10. T.S Wilk<strong>in</strong>son and P.L Bhandarkar, <strong>Method</strong>ology and Techniques <strong>of</strong><br />

Social Science <strong>Research</strong>, 4th edition, Himalaya Publish<strong>in</strong>g House,<br />

India: 1984.<br />

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Kathmandu School <strong>of</strong> Law <strong>Importance</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Case</strong> <strong>Study</strong> <strong>Method</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Legal</strong> <strong>Research</strong> A <strong>Research</strong> Paper Presented by Narendra Man Shrestha In Partial Fulfillment <strong>of</strong> the requirements for obta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the LL.M Degree <strong>in</strong> Human Rights and Gender Justice Supervisor: Dr. Shankar Kumar Shrestha Kathmandu June 10, 2003 1

  • Page 2 and 3: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN This is to c
  • Page 4 and 5: CONTENTS INTRODUCTION PAGES (1-4) 1
  • Page 6 and 7: involved. Case study has particular
  • Page 8 and 9: This paper will focus mainly on pri
  • Page 10 and 11: whether that knowledge aids in cons
  • Page 12 and 13: the meaning and significance of the
  • Page 14 and 15: 2.3 Sampling: When the subject of r
  • Page 16 and 17: 3.1 Characteristics of Case Study M
  • Page 18 and 19: 7. Under this case study method, an
  • Page 20 and 21: In terms of any discipline research
  • Page 22 and 23: esearch activities relating to afor
  • Page 24 and 25: the treatment rendered and dealings
  • Page 26 and 27: analysis and so on. Legal research
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Legal Research Methodology: Types And Approaches of Legal Research

legal research methodology

What is Legal Research Methodology?

Types of legal research, qualitative research for legal research, quantitative research for legal research, advantages of the quantitative legal research methods, which one is better – quantitative or qualitative legal research methods, 5 approaches to legal research, analytical approach to legal research, interdisciplinary approach to legal research, socio-legal approach to legal research, comparative approach to legal research, historical approach to legal research.

Legal research methodologies serve three main functions, exploring a legal problem, critically describing facts and legislation, and explaining or interpreting legal issues and concepts.

Why is a methodology needed in the first place?

The methodology is a means of inquiry to achieve these purposes in a meaningful way .

In legal research, the methodology;

  • is a systematic inquiry that provides information to guide legal research,
  • is the trained and scientific investigation of the principles and facts of any subject,
  • helps the readers understand the research methods to discover the truth and evaluate the results’ validity,
  • helps the researchers follow a consistent logic in research and prepare them to meet possible challenges,
  • is also an important way to jam reliable and valid knowledge and explore the relationship between theory and practice.

Understanding research methods will help students conduct and write up their research monographs, dissertations, or theses systematically.

However, research methodology is different from research methods. ‘Research method’ usually implies all methods and techniques used to collect and process the data.

Thus, the method is a tool or technique such as a qualitative or quantitative method. It also includes interviews, case studies, or surveys.

On the other hand, research methodology refers to the body of methods that guide thinking within a specific field of study.

A methodology is a justification or rationale for the research approach and is concerned with the general strategy or approach of undertaking research.

Legal research methodology is a must.

It is vital for a researcher to know the research methodology and understand the underlying methodologies’ assumptions.

Researchers also need to know the criteria by which they can decide that certain methodologies will apply to certain problems.

Research methodology has been defined as the means of acquiring scientific knowledge. It has also been defined as a means to gather information and data to achieve a valid outcome.

Legal research methodology is simply a way of addressing and exploring unsettled legal questions or issues.

Legal research methodologies are techniques by which one acquires legally relevant information, analyzes, interprets, and applies them to resolve issues and present the findings.

Thus, legal research methodology is a scientific and systematic way to solve any legal question.

Legal research methodology also refers to rules of interpretation of legal problems and issues. It is a systematic effort to make an argument to arrive at a true or accurate account of the subject matter under consideration.

The researcher should explain properly why he uses a particular method to evaluate research results by the researcher himself or others. Adopting a particular methodology should stem from the research objective and purpose.

Types of Legal Research - Qualitative Legal Research and Quantitative Legal Research

The main difference between qualitative and quantitative legal research is that; qualitative legal research is pure and applied research, concerned with the analysis of theories. Whereas quantitative legal research is concerned with testing the theories in the real world.

Depending upon the nature of the research question, legal research is also classified as descriptive and exploratory one.

Descriptive research attempts to describe a situation, problem, phenomenon, or behavior systematically. A description is concerned with making complicated things understandable and simple.

Exploratory research is undertaken to explore areas about which the researcher has little or no knowledge . It involves findings the reason for things, events and situations, showing why and how they have come to be what they are. Exploratory research enables the researcher to formulate problems for more in-depth study, develop hypotheses, and find the best solution.

Another popular distinction is between pure doctrinal research and non-doctrinal or empirical research.

While the former is theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge without a specific application, the latter is original work undertaken to acquire new knowledge with a specific practical application in view.

Doctrinal legal research is concerned with the analysis of legal theories, concepts, rules, and principles.

Most doctrinal legal research is based on the ‘black-letter law’ approach, which focuses on the knowledge of law found in the legal texts, legal theories, statutes, and court judgments with ‘little or no reference to the world outside the law.’

The doctrinal or ‘black-letter’ legal research aims to explain, systemize, and clarify the law on any particular topic by a distinctive mode of analysis.

In recent times, pure doctrinal legal research has been criticized for its rigidity, narrower scope, and inflexibility in addressing diverse contexts m which legal issues or situations arise and operate.

As a result, empirical or inter-disciplinary legal research emerged as a distinct type of legal scholarship in the law schools of western countries to study law in the broader social and political contexts.

This empirical and interdisciplinary legal research employs various social science and humanities methods. According to Epstein and King,

What makes research empirical is that it is based on observations of the world, in other words, data, which is just a term for facts about the world.

These facts may be historical or contemporary or based on legislation or case law, the results of interviews or surveys , or the outcomes of secondary archival research or primary data collection .

Another important classification is between qualitative and quantitative research.

Qualitative research is concerned with the explanation, interpretation, and understanding of phenomena or issues, or things. It relies primarily on human perception and understanding. It concerns the subjective assessment of the social or legal problem, situation, and attitude.

Qualitative research is critical in the behavioral sciences, where the aim is to discover the underlying motives of human behavior. A qualitative approach is concerned with the subjective assessment of attitudes, opinions, and behavior.

Quantitative research offers:

  • richly descriptive reports of individual perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, views, and feelings,
  • the meanings and interpretations are given to events and things, as well as their behavior;
  • it displays how these are put together, more or less coherently and consciously,
  • into frameworks that make sense of their experiences; and
  • illuminates the motivations which connect attitudes and behavior, the discontinuities, or
  • even contradictions between attitudes and behavior, or
  • how conflicting attitudes and motivations are resolved in particular choices made.

Qualitative research is related to the analysis of some abstract idea, doctrine, or theory. It is generally used to develop new concepts or to reinterpret existing ones.

In qualitative research, researchers use analytical techniques and their views on the subject matter in question.

Qualitative research varifies the old established principles of laws. It may lead to discovering a new theory, refinement, or interpretation of an existing theory, principles, or legal issues.

On the other hand, empirical research relies on experience or observation alone, often without due regard for system and theory.

Qualitative research involves more explicit judgment, interpretation, or critical evaluation of a problem.

As far as legal study is concerned, the qualitative method is applied to analyze legal propositions or legal theories or doctrines and explore existing statutory propositions and cases in light of propositions or doctrines.

Qualitative research of law involves studying general theoretical questions about the nature of laws and legal systems, the relationship of law to justice and morality, and problems of application of law in a given society.

The main advantage of the qualitative method is that qualitative analysis draws on the interpretive skills of the researcher and opens up the possibility of more than one explanation being valid.

The main criticism of qualitative research is that it is too impressionistic and subjective. Qualitative findings rely too much on the researcher’s subjective assessment of views about what is significant.

The qualitative research findings tend to be open-ended, which is difficult to generalize: Many qualitative research works are doctrinal. Observation, interviewing, case study, examination, and analysis are the most common method of qualitative research.

Quantitative research for legal research is based on the measurement of quantity or amount. It consists of counting how frequently things happen. It applies to phenomena that can be expressed in terms of quantity. It is also known as the statistical method.

Because in quantitative research, researchers use an array of statistical methods and generalizations to determine the meaning of data.

It has been the dominant strategy for conducting socio-legal research. Quantitative methods often test or verify existing theories or hypotheses.

Quantitative research involves finding a solution to a real-life problem requiring an action or policy decision.

Quantitative research also tests many variables through the generation of primary data. The generalization process from sample to a population is an example of quantitative instead of qualitative research methodology.

Quantitative research can contribute new evidence, challenge old theories, and help conceptual clarification.

Usually, the quantitative approach involves generating data in quantitative form, which can be subjected to rigorous quantitative analysis formally and rigidly. Quantification can make it easier to aggregate, compare and summarise data.

Data can be collected from questionnaire surveys, fact-finding inquiries, and interviews. Data analysis is one of the important components of quantitative research.

The quantitative method is also sometimes termed an empirical approach as data are collected to test the hypothesis or examine the propositions or interpretations of findings.

  • First, quantitative data are gathered by various forms of statistical techniques based on the principles of mathematics and probability. The analysis appears to be based on objective laws rather than the researcher’s values.
  • Second, statistical tests of significance give researchers additional credibility in terms of their interpretations and their confidence in their findings.
  • Third, quantitative data analysis provides a solid foundation for description and analysis.
  • Fourth, large volumes of quantitative data can be analyzed relatively quickly, provided adequate preparation and planning have occurred in advance.
  • Finally, tables and charts effectively organize quantitative data and communicate the findings to others.

The quantitative research method supplements traditional legal research to investigate the complexities of the law, legal actors, and legal activities.

Quantitative legal research is mostly applicable for conducting non-doctrinal, empirical, and socio-legal research . Objectivity remains the main aspect of quantitative research.

A set of rules or procedures should be followed in quantitative research, even though qualitative research tends to be more flexible.

While the researcher’s values and bias influence qualitative research, quantitative research seeks to report the findings objectively, and the role of the researcher is neutral.

To some extent, it depends on the training of the researcher and the nature of the research questions. But choosing one method in exclusion of others may be counterproductive for advancing legal scholarship.

Rather blending both quantitative and qualitative approaches can be the best way to accomplish the objectives of research work.

It is generally accepted that using more than one method strengthens the validity and credibility of the research.

5 approaches to legal research – legal research methodologies

Legal research methodology is not particularly different from the research methodology used in other disciplines.

Nonetheless, it has some special attributes regarding source materials and ways of approaching the problems.

Researchers should be clear about the methodology and reasons for choosing a particular methodology.

Effective legal research is hardly possible without a proper understanding of research methodology . A researcher should justify the important methodological choices in their work.

Legal research may be of combination of methods for interpreting and applying legally relevant information. There are no single or universal approaches to legal research methodologies.

There are several approaches to research methodology , such as analytical, inter-disciplinary, comparative, and historical.

A particular type of methodology depends considerably upon the research question formulated and the sources of materials chosen.

analytical approaches to legal research

An analytical method is the most important and widely used in legal research. The analysis involves an explanation of the cause and effect of complex phenomena.

Analytical skill is crucial for any legal researcher. The analytical approach requires logical reasoning and interpreting laws to conclude .

Since laws are written in abstract and general terms by their nature, it is the researchers’ and judges’ task to apply those general rules to concrete factual circumstances, for which they apply logic and common sense to analyze and interpret the words in the law.

In most cases, the analytical approach deals with one or more legal concepts or legal theories.

Analytical research uses interpretive methods to examine cases, statutes, and other forms of law to seek out, construct, or reconstruct rules and principles.

An analytical approach is sometimes viewed as doctrinal research.

Doctrinal research of law provides a systematic exposition of the rules governing a particular legal category, analyses the relationship between the rules, explains areas of difficulty, and predicts future developments.

The sources of law have been the primary materials, law doctrines, case law, and legislation. The legal research is largely confined to an analysis of legal doctrine .

The salient characteristic of the analytical approach is its emphasis on the autonomy of law as an independent discipline or science.

Thus, the analytical approach of legal research can lead to ‘close reasoning.’

The analytical method serves the fundamental object of giving effect to the terms of a legislative instrument.

Analytical research is applied to dissect the terms of a provision, draw inferences from them, and apply the conclusions to resolve legal questions.

The most relevant aspects of the analytical approach are:

  • what did the law-maker intend to achieve with the legislation under consideration?
  • What is the underlying policy rationale of a piece of legislation?

In the analytical approach, the researcher should highlight the positive aspect of the law, e.g., what a legal situation is, and its normative aspect, e.g., what a legal situation should be.

Thus, it not only describes facts and circumstances but also defines parameters and interprets the facts. It involves applying critical judgment and developing one’s view of the situation.

The normative analysis concerns rational criticism and evaluation of legal doctrines and rules. Such judicial interpretation and process should only be a logical application of existing rules of law .

On the other hand, the positivistic approach holds that the conception of law is a coherent and complete system.

Legal Research Methodologies

It implies a concerted effort to integrate disciplinary insights and apply the integrated insight to the study of problems.

The interdisciplinary approach of legal research advances the proposition that legal research ought not to content itself with the strictly legal but should also explore the interface between law and the other disciplines.

It integrates disciplines such as history, political science, economics and philosophy, and even different methodologies.

The interdisciplinary approach is distinguished from a multidisciplinary approach, which juxtaposes several disciplines without any attempt to integrate or synthesize aspects of their knowledge and perspectives.

The interdisciplinary approach requires looking at various aspects of the subject and viewing it from more than one perspective.

The interdisciplinary approach suggests the accommodation of sociology of law, economics and law, and law and technology within a single discourse to integrate and establish communicative links between disciplines.

The objective of interdisciplinary research is to combine knowledge, skills, and forms of research experience from two or several disciplines to transcend some of the theoretical and methodological limitations of the discipline in question and create a basis for developing a new form of analysis.

This is evident from integration because legal researchers and lawyers need to look at the law from a much broader angle than previously.

Inter-disciplinary research is “research designed to secure a deeper understanding of law as a social phenomenon, including research for the historical, philosophical, linguistic, economic, social or political implications of the law.”

On the other hand, it also seeks to evaluate the influence of other disciplines on legal scholarship. An interdisciplinary approach often produces results relevant to more than one discipline.

This interrelationship of disciplines is often reflected because many reputed law schools have designed their curriculum to include other subjects to explain a problem coherently and logically.

The interdisciplinary approach also suggests that social science methodologies and information are integrated into legal discourse.

The interdisciplinary approach as the interface of law and social science dates back to the Realist movement in the 1930s and 1940s. That movement highlighted the differences between ‘law in the books’ and ‘law in action.’

socio legal approach to legal research

A sociological approach to law is one of the most characteristic features of modem jurisprudence—the socio-legal approach views law as a means of social control and change.

According to this approach, the law is essentially a social phenomenon.

The sociology of law seeks to explain the nature o law in terms of the empirical conditions within which doctrines and institutions exist in particular societies or social conditions.

Socio-legal research uses the theories and methods of social science to explore the operation of law, legal processes, and legal institutions.

The sociological approach tells us that law is a social phenomenon and works in a social setting instead of a textual approach.

According to the socio-legal approach, analysis of law is directly linked to the analysis of the social situation to which the law applies and should be put into the perspective of that situation.

It contrasts with the textual or ‘ black letter law ‘ approach, which emphasizes the text’s literal meaning. It calls for going beyond the ‘black letter law and investigating the social milieu against which law is enacted and applied.

On the relationship between law and sociology, Roger Cotterrell wrote succinctly.

Both law and sociology are concerned with the whole range of significant forms of social relationships.

And in practice, the criteria determining which relationships are significant are often similar, deriving from the same cultural assumptions or conceptions of policy relevance.

Furthermore, both legal and sociological inquiries typically seek to view these phenomena as part of, or potentially part of, an integrated social structure.

Thus, law and sociology share a fundamentally similar basic subject matter despite their radical differences in method and outlook.

Law is the practical craft of systematic control of social relations and institutions.

Sociology is the scientific enterprise that seeks systematic knowledge of them.

The socio-legal approach helps researchers to realize a closer understanding of the policy objectives of any legal rule.

The sociological views law as an emanation of social elements and depends not on state authority but on social compulsion.

The socio-legal research assesses the impact of legal doctrines upon society.

The sociological approach tries to investigate through empirical data how law and legal institutions affect human attitudes and what impact they create on society; assess the suitability of legal institutions to the needs of society.

It aims to understand legal and social phenomena, whereas the main concern of the traditional approach to jurisprudence is to undertake analytical-linguistic studies.

Using the law as an instrument of government policy requires understanding the socio-economic context in which the law works and what effects are likely to happen.

In socio-legal research, the law is considered one of the social policy tools.

A wide range of strategies is used in socio-legal research, from the statistical analysis of the survey to the interview analysis.

By using these strategies, the socio-legal approach addresses the following questions:

  • what are the effects of law and the legal order on the social order?
  • What are the effects of the social order on the legal order?
  • What are the effects of the law on attitude, behavior, institutions, and organizations in society, maintenance, and change of society?
  • What are the effects of attitudes, maintenance, behavior, institutions, and organizations in society, maintenance, and change of society on the law?

comparative approach to legal research

Each legal system has its history, fundamental principles and procedures, and forms of legal publication sources.

But in this globalized and interdependent world-the study of the law of other countries is assuming greater significance.

The law of foreign countries is increasingly becoming relevant in national court proceedings involving international transactions.

Interaction between various legal systems is sometimes described as a transnational legal system. The comparative method is advantageous for understanding the transnational legal system.

The comparative approach as a study of legal systems by comp comparison has assumed wider significance due to the ongoing globalization process.

With the growth of international and regional legal orders, understanding the forms and methods of comparative legal study has become essential to all those wishing to understand and engage in current legal debates.

Even one needs a comparative method to understand the law within one’s own country. The comparative method offers how the differences between the law of diverse countries and systems are analyzed.

In this way, a comparative study is appreciated for its benefit to the national legal system.

The comparative method aims to harmonize but not unify the world’s different laws and legal cultures.

Because often, the comparative approach may involve a comparison of two or more national legal systems.

But undoubtedly, comparative study helps to harmonize the laws of different countries.

In this sense, it has an international dimension.

The comparative approach takes the insider’s view on the legal systems studied and helps understand the institutional structure of concepts, thinking, and organizations of the systems in question.

The comparative method denotes different ways of addressing the same issue and finding differences. The comparison may give a fuller view of the subject under investigation.

However, the objective of the comparative method is not to draw mere similarities and dissimilarities.

Instead, it can enable a researcher to suggest a suitable solution to legal problems in light of a set of rules ideal for a given society.

The comparative method may confer the following 3 advantages:

  • comparative research can throw doubts on the usefulness or firmly entrenched views;
  • it may suggest a suitable solution to legal problems;
  • A comparative study tends to aid in assembling which principles, applicable in the field concerned, are fundamental and which are secondary.

Historical Approach to Legal Research

The historical approach looks at the evolution and development of a particular system of rules to provide useful contextual background and a fuller understanding of a certain legal discipline both for the researcher and the ultimate reader.

A historical approach examines the relations between law and events, showing how the law has been used at different times for different purposes and how it connects with interests and classes, political ends, and social movements.

The historical approach helps us understand how a particular institution or law evolved and why they need a change in the present context.

It takes the view that history has a significant role in explaining the current state of law, its past development, and likely future direction.

For example, to understand the institutional and jurisdictional aspects of the United Nations , a brief look at the whole concept and history of collective security and that of the League of Nations could be of some help.

The historical approach takes us from the past to the future. The historical approach serves to understand the present situation and shows the general trend of changes in laws.

As the present can not be properly understood without some knowledge about the past, the foremost purpose of the historical approach is to gain a clear perspective of the present.

But historical research can aim at the simply scholarly desire of the researcher to arrive at an accurate account of the past.

The sources of the historical approach include parliamentary debates on any legislative scheme, official reports of inquiry, case reports, newspaper reports, and journals.

The researcher should be careful about the authenticity and integrity of the documents.

In evaluating documents, the researcher should try to determine their completeness by verifying whether there have been additions or deletions to the original text.

The researcher should also maintain objectivity in interpreting historical events and show an adequate historical perspective of the issue under research.

For this purpose, primary sources or historical documents should be used as extensively as possible .

There is “no set legal methodology” that is applicable in all cases. It is not always possible to make clear-cut distinctions among the above ways of approaching the methodology.

A research paper that is concerned essentially with examining a subject may also involve comparison.

The researcher can choose a method best suited to questions and available sources. It depends upon the nature of the research question.

Legal Research: Meaning, Definitions, and Example

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Essay: Benefits and disadvantages of different research methodologies as tools for conducting independent legal research at postgrad level

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Discuss and critically assess the benefits and disadvantages of at least two different research methodologies as tools for conducting independent legal research at postgraduate level

Library based or doctrinal research and socio-legal methods

Legal research methodology  denotes the exposition, the description or the explanation and the justification of methods used in  conducting research  in the discipline of law.  At the postgraduate level, legal research may be carried out by utilising one or more of number of different techniques or methodologies. These different methodologies include, inter alia, doctrinal or library-based research, comparative law methods, socio-legal methods and philosophical legal methods.  In this discussion we focus on two methodologies that are often employed by  legal researchers . They include doctrinal or library-based research and socio-legal methods.

Doctrinal or library-based methodology: Some key aspects

Doctrinal or library based research is the most  common methodology  employed by those undertaking research in law. In a nutshell, library-based research is predicated upon finding the ‘one right answer’ to a particular legal questions or set of questions.  Thus, the methodology is aimed at specific enquiries in order to locate particular pieces of information. For example, an investigation may be conducted into the legislation encompassing child abuse in a particular jurisdiction. It may also be sought to find out what specific section within the said legislation is actually applicable. All these questions have definite answers that can be found and verified. Such kind of questions are the domain of doctrinal or library-based research.

The key steps  in library-based research are often infused. These steps include analysing and unpacking the legal issues in order to identify the issue or issues which need further research. This stage will often  involve a significant amount of background reading in order for the researcher to orient herself or himself with the area of law being studied. Background reading will often include sources such as dictionaries for definition of terms (and possibly a list of cases or legislation where they have been used), encyclopaedias for a summary of the legal principles accompanied by footnoted sources, major textbooks and treatises on the subject and journals.

Secondly, having established the issue requiring further investigation, the researcher must determine the relevant rule or rules of law applicable to the identified issues. This stage involves locating and analysing the relevant primary material. Depending on whether the research is based on international law or domestic law, the primary material will include treaties, declarations, statutes and delegated legislation and case law. Although primary sources are adequate by themselves, it may also be useful to have regard to secondary sources. This observation is made  light of the fact that oftentimes, the concepts and standards that are embodied in the international conventions, legislation and cases will have been investigated, analysed and elucidated by many different authors in a variety of contexts and from wide ranging perspectives. These writings constitute an important resource for understanding and elaborating the principles in the primary legislation. Consequently, use must be made of relevant books and journal articles on that particular area of law. Thirdly, having established the relevant rules, the research then must set out to analysing the facts in terms of the law. This is perhaps the most critical stage of the doctrinal or library-based methodology as it seeks to marry the issues that were identified with the applicable rules. All the issues that are sought to be investigated must be synthesised in the context of the applicable legal rules

Lastly, having conducted the analysis, the researcher must then come to a probable conclusion which is based on the facts established and the law considered.

Evaluating the doctrinal or library-based methodology

There are several advantages associated with library based research methodology. Firstly, it is the traditional method for conducting legal research and is often taught during the early stages of legal training. Consequently, most  legal researchers  will be familiar with the techniques involved by the time they embark upon postgraduate research. Additionally, there will be no shortage of experts who are able to offer doctrinal research training to new postgraduates.

Secondly, because of its omnipresence in law schools ad law offices, research carried out under this design is likely to be more accepted as having the character of legal research.  Doctrinal research still represents the ‘norm’ within legal circles, and most operational, undergraduate and even higher degree work will be based on the doctrinal framework. For practical purposes, and for resolving day-to-day client matters, doctrinal research is the expected and required methodology. The busy practitioner (and the standard product of law schools) tends to be concerned with the law ‘as it is’ and rarely has the time to consider research that does not fit within that paradigm and timeframe.

Furthermore, because of its focus on established sources, doctrinal research is more manageable and its outcomes more predictable. For a postgraduate researcher this may help with meeting deadlines as surprises may be contained.

Several criticisms may be levelled against doctrinal or library based methodology. For example, it is too theoretical, too technical, uncritical, conservative, trivial and without due consideration of the social, economical and political significance of the legal process.

Secondly, it must be observed that doctrinal research is too restricting and narrow in its choice and range of subjects. The legal profession is increasingly being pulled into the larger social context.  This context encompasses legal and social theory, and it encompasses other methodologies based in the natural and social sciences. In studying, the context which the law operates and how the law relates to and affects that context, doctrinal methodology does not offer an adequate framework for addressing issues that arise because it assumes that the law exists in an objective doctrinal vacuum rather than within a social framework or context.

Thirdly, doctrinal research is sometimes described as trivial because it is often conducted without due consideration of the social, economical and political significance of the legal process. As noted above the law does not operate in a vacuum. It operates within society and affects the society. There is, therefore, scope for adopting and adapting other methodologies utilised in other subjects in order to have more illuminated view of the law and its functions. For example, there is scope for further research regarding the workings of legal institutions, such as the courts in order to increase their efficiency.  As Julius Getman has commented, ‘empirical study has the potential to illuminate the workings of the legal system, to reveal its shortcomings, problems, successes, and illusions, in a way that no amount of library research or subtle thinking can match.’

It is obvious from the above criticism that, lawyers may need more than doctrinal or library based research skills in order to make their research more relevant for the wider world. One of the methodologies that may be employed in this regard is the socio-legal method.

Socio-legal methodology: Some key aspects

The law is a critical part of our social world. Commenting on this observation, Leslie Scarman has emphatically stated that: There is no cosy little world of lawyers’ law in which learned men may frolic without raising socially controversial issues-I challenge anyone to identify an issue of law reform so technical that it raises no social, political or economic issue. If there is such a thing, I doubt if it would be worth doing anything about it.

Thus, the recognition that the law operates in a wider social context has led to the development of socio-legal methodology as a framework for  conducting legal research . In a nutshell, socio-legal methodology embraces disciplines and subjects concerned with law as a social institution, with the effect of law, legal processes, institutions and services, and with the influence of social, political and economic  factors on the law and legal institutions. Consequently, because of its association with so many dynamics, the socio-legal method is diverse and encompasses a wide range of theoretical perspectives.

The first step in socio-legal inquiry is the selection of a topic after a review of relevant literature and preliminary discussions with those with practical experience of the issues. Once the topic is selected, the researcher must then come up with general problem statement and a possible hypothesis for dealing with the said problem. This step is then followed by concentrated exploration and literature review aimed at further refining the problem statement and hypothesis.

Once, this preliminary stage is completed, the researcher selects and designs his or her research methodology. This is a very important step in the methodology process as this step ultimately determines the validity and quality of the research findings that will be produced at the conclusion of the project. Postgraduate socio-legal scholars may adopt quantitative or qualitative research techniques or both depending on the subject matter under investigation.

Quantitative research may be construed as a research strategy that emphasises quantification in the collection and analysis of data. It entails a deductive approach to the relationship between theory and research in which the emphasis is placed on testing of theories. It also incorporates the  practices of natural scientific model.  In other words, quantitative research methods insist on the control of the research to limit the number of variables affecting the outcomes; exact measurement and precision; the ability to repeat the experiment with similar outcomes and the testing of the hypothesis through statistical means.  By contrast, qualitative research may be construed as a strategy that words rather than quantification in the collection and analysis of data. It predominantly stresses an inductive approach to the relationship between theory and research in which the emphasis is placed on the generation of theories. Significantly, qualitative research rejects the practices and norms of the natural scientific model in preference for an emphasis on the ways in which individuals interpret their social world and it embodies a view of social reality as constantly shifting emergent of individuals’ creation.  Thus, qualitative research methodology acknowledges that there is not one reality but rather that reality is situational and personal, and may therefore vary between individuals and between situations.

Once the postgraduate researcher adopts the research technique suitable for the inquiry in question, he or she must then proceed to collect his or her data using the research design. At this stage qualitative and quantitative techniques will differ. Qualitative research interviews, for example, are less structured than their quantitative equivalent, and consist ideally of an exchange of ideas between the researcher and the interviewee on a particular theme. The process is not directed towards quantifying the  issues being researched but rather towards providing new insights and awareness of the issue under discussion.

This difference is apparent when one compares the tools that are utilised when employing the two techniques. Quantitative research will often employ devices such as surveys and questionnaires to collect the required data. These may include closed questions which result in easy statistical summaries, or open questions, which allow for a more lengthy, qualitative and individual response. There are advantages and disadvantages to the reliance on surveys in undertaking socio-legal research. On the positive side, surveys or questionnaires are relatively easy to draw up and administer and they provide a bulk of straight information that is easy to  analyse. It is a good method for gathering opinion information and further to that, the anonymous nature of questionnaires may lead to candid responses. On the other hand, questionnaires make it impossible to find out additional information once the instrument is returned as they are usually anonymous. Furthermore, since questionnaires and surveys result in a bank of data, they do not provide the richness and depth of information available with other methods and if there is something missing from the form, then it is very expensive in time and money to fix the errors.

Qualitative techniques on the other hand rely on devices such as ethnography, biography or case studies in the process of data collection.  These methods allow the researcher to get the insider’s viewpoint of the matter in issue and not necessarily the objective truth. They allow the researcher to conduct in-depth studies of a specific group or individual chosen to represent social phenomena and allow the researcher to ‘access the reality behind appearances’.  These techniques have the obvious advantage that they provide opportunities to verify responses by comparing a number of different approaches in resolving an issue. They allow for the complexities of social, legal and political interaction to be seen and for the relationships between these and the effects of one on the others to become more obvious. Furthermore, qualitative techniques allow the researcher to delve deeper into inconsistent responses and analyse significant situations at greater depth. The drawbacks for these techniques include the absence of statistical validity of a proper sample and objective quantitative proof. Furthermore, there is the omnipresent risk of people changing their positions or acting up because the know they are being studied. The data may also be more reflective of the researcher’s views rather than the subjects’ because there is more latitude for researcher bias in the actual choice of the individual or case to be examined.

Despite the shortfalls associated with quantitative and qualitative research techniques, they offer the socio-legal scholar important tools for analysing the law within its operational context. As was noted earlier, these methodologies do not exist in isolation from each other and may be employed to reinforce the shortcomings of one approach.

Having collected the relevant data from the field, the researcher must then analyse and interpret the data and come up with his or her conclusions. This is an important stage of the research as the researcher will be able to comment on the state of the law, whether it is effective or changes are needed, and obviously if there is need for more socio-legal work.

Evaluating socio-legal methodology

There are a number of benefits associated with adopting socio-legal research methods. First of all, it allows legal practitioners and academics to experience the law in action. This is hardly possible within the realm of doctrinal research.

Further to that,  socio-legal research  avoids too much attention on rules of law and instead affords systematic and regular reference to the context of the problems which laws were supposed to resolve, the purpose they were to serve and the effect they in fact have. This serves to counter the charge that law is conservative and aloof from the social context within which it operates.

Socio-legal research  is significant because  in linking the law to society, it functionalises law, rendering it an effective instrument for the achievement of social, political and economic objectives. Socio-legal research is important for and impacts upon government policy-makers, regulators, industry representatives and other actors concerned with the administration of justice and the legal system.

More importantly, socio-legal methodology is by nature inter-disciplinary and, therefore, allows the building of bridges between the law and other disciplines such as economics, history, sociology, politics, etc. This is beneficial because it adds more relevance to the law as well present the law appropriately, that is as a small part of a larger social world.

Socio-legal methods  have got disadvantages of their own. For example, social science findings are perceived as malleable and unstable and the perception seems to be that the outcomes from socio-legal research are dependent on the way in which the results have been interpreted. Consequently, confronting lawyers (most of whom possess an almost instinctive doctrinal mindset) with the results of socio-legal research is as hard a task as any. It is possible to arrive at different conclusions on the same question when employing socio-legal methods because of differences in specification within the research design, or because of different methods of collecting data, or perhaps simply because the question being researched are marginally different and this is unrecognised. This uncertainty in outcome only serves to reinforce lawyer’s bias against socio-legal methods. However, it must also be noted in this regard that the objectivity and neutrality of the law, which has been assumed by most lawyers has come under attack. Thus, the same anxieties that exercise lawyers minds over the objectivity of doctrinal methods also apply to the socio-legal tradition. Further to that, socio-legal enquiry is perceived as being unsuitable for the work that practising lawyers do. This tribe of lawyers is used to dealing with specific cases as opposed to investigating the broader aspects about the world and events affecting society generally. Lawyers and their clients generally want definite answers to particular questions as opposed to generalised responses.  Socio-legal methods usually state results in terms of generalities and this is obviously unsuitable for practical legal application.

Socio-legal research is quite difficult to carry out because the majority of lawyers simply do not receive adequate, if any, instruction in the intricacies of this methodological regime.  Most lawyers commencing postgraduate work will be products of ‘straight’ law degrees and will often have no appreciation of the existence of other methodologies, apart from doctrinal legal research.

Lastly, socio-legal methodologies require a large amount of time for locating the issues and carrying out research. To compound this, there is always the likelihood of failure especially if there are problems with the research design. As was noted above, there are an extensive number of techniques available. Time must, therefore, be spent choosing the most suitable method for collecting data. Even a small survey can require a lengthy preparation period for drafting and redrafting the survey questionnaire, testing the survey, producing and printing the questionnaire, selecting a valid sample, applying the questionnaire, collecting the data and then organising it according to category. Only after this has been done can the researcher reflect on the results in relation to the original hypothesis. This laborious process makes socio-legal methods less attractive.

Concluding remarks

It is easy to target a particular methodology and outline its strengths or weakness. However, it must be noted that all  legal research methodologies  are ultimately a means of arriving at answers raised in the course of attempts to understand issues arising within the law. There is no hierarchy amongst methodologies as all of them are equally important for the development and understanding of law. What is crucial is that researchers should try and equip themselves with the necessary skills to enable them comfortably suit  their research requirements. A well-versed researcher will without doubt be alive to the merits and demerits of any particular methodology and will work to counter these negatives resulting in better quality work. Often, the combination of methodologies such as doctrinal and socio-legal (or even techniques within a particular methodology such as quantitative and qualitative methods) serves to bring about a better understanding of the law and postgraduate scholars would do well to equip themselves with alternative research methodologies.


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Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of two different research methods for understanding the legal debate on assisted dying

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little awareness of this process; therefore historical analysis of law and social structures, including health statistics is invaluable for understanding how to make law. examine this process in detail using meta-analysis of historical and theoretical sources of health care cases.

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Journal of Medical Ethics

Celia Kitzinger

In W v M, family members made an application to the Court of Protection for withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration from a minimally conscious patient. Subsequent scholarly discussion has centred around the ethical adequacy of the judge's decision not to authorise withdrawal. This article brings a different perspective by drawing on interviews with 51 individuals with a relative who is (or was) in a vegetative or minimally conscious state (MCS). Most professional medical ethicists have treated the issue as one of life versus death; by contrast, families—including those who believed that their relative would not have wanted to be kept alive—focused on the manner of the proposed death and were often horrified at the idea of causing death by ‘starvation and dehydration’. The practical consequence of this can be that people in permanent vegetative state (PVS) and MCS are being administered life-prolonging treatments long after their families have come to believe that the patient would rather be dead. We suggest that medical ethicists concerned about the rights of people in PVS/MCS need to take this empirical data into account in seeking to apply ethical theories to medico-legal realities.

Health Care Analysis

Elizabeth Chloe Romanis

In the United Kingdom the law and medical guidance is supportive of women making choices in childbirth. NICE guidelines are explicit that a competent woman's informed request for MRCS (elective caesarean in the absence of any clinical indications) should be respected. However, in reality pregnant women are routinely denied MRCS. In this paper I consider whether there is sufficient justification for restricting MRCS. The physical and emotive significance of childbirth as an event in a woman's life cannot be understated. It is, therefore, concerning that women are having their wishes ignored, and we must ascertain whether the denial of agency is justifiable. To answer this question I first demonstrate that access to MRCS is a lottery in the UK. Second, I argue that there is nothing unique about pregnancy that displaces the ethical norm of respecting patents' sufficiently autonomous choices. Thus, the starting presumption is that all informed choices regarding MRCS should be respected. To ascertain whether any restriction of MRCS is justifiable the burden of proof must be placed on those who argue that MRCS is ethically impermissible. I argue that the most common justifications in the literature against MRCS are insufficient to displace the presumption in favour of autonomous choice in childbirth. I conclude that MRCS should be available to pregnant women, and we must strive to reduce the lottery in access to choice.

Jenny Kitzinger , Celia Kitzinger

Withdrawal of artificially delivered nutrition and hydration (ANH) from patients in a permanent vegetative state (PVS) requires judicial approval in England and Wales, even when families and healthcare professionals agree that withdrawal is in the patient’s best interests. Part of the rationale underpinning the original recommendation for such court approval was the reassurance of patients’ families, but there has been no research as to whether or not family members are reassured by the requirement for court proceedings or how they experience the process. The research reported here draws on in-depth narrative interviews with 10 family members (from five different families) of PVS patients who have been the subject of court proceedings for ANH-withdrawal. We analyse the empirical evidence to understand how family members perceive and experience the process of applying to the courts for ANH-withdrawal and consider the ethical and practice implications of our findings. Our analysis of family experience supports arguments grounded in economic and legal analysis that court approval should no longer be required. We conclude with some suggestions for how we might develop other more efficient, just and humane mechanisms for reviewing best interests decisions about ANH-withdrawal from these patients

Jenny Kitzinger , Jakki Cowley

In a landmark judgment in the English Court of Protection, the judge (Charles J) found it to be in the best interests of a minimally conscious patient for clinically assisted nutrition and hydration (CANH) to be withdrawn, with the inevitable consequence that the patient would die. In making this judgment, it was accepted that the patient's level of consciousness — if CANH were continued and rehabilitation provided — might improve, and that he might become capable of expressing emotions and making simple choices. The decision to withdraw treatment relied on a best interests decision, which gave great weight to the patient's past wishes, feelings, values and beliefs, and brought a 'holistic' approach to understanding what this particular patient would have wanted. We draw on our own experience of supporting families, advocating for patients and training healthcare professionals in similar situations to consider the implications of the published judgment for policy and practice with patients in prolonged disorders of consciousness and their families.

Alfie Giddings

Anne-Maree Farrell

This paper examines the relationship between patient autonomy and responsibility in situations where patients suffer harm as a result of medical treatment. We focus on the notion of empowerment as a key variable influencing this relationship. We argue that interactions between patients and health professionals are socially and institutionally embedded, with power asymmetries structuring such interactions. Underpinned by the ‘competence gap,’ as well as patients’ vulnerability due to ill-health and unfamiliarity with the institutional healthcare environment, paternalism features strongly in such interactions, often leading to poor communication, mistrust and the use of blame strategies when patients suffer harm. Patients’ family and friends often act as advocates on their behalf as they attempt, with mixed success, to navigate professional and institutional cultures that are defensive and largely unresponsive to their concerns about healthcare quality and safety. In the circumstances, we argue that there is a need to re-think the moral and legal dimensions of patients’ responsibilities, by recognising the influential role played by cultures and practices in health systems which act as barriers to patient empowerment. We explore these arguments through drawing on data from a pilot study which was conducted into the dynamics of medical malpractice claiming in England. As part of the study, individuals who had sought legal advice and/or pursued legal action arising out of harm caused through medical malpractice in the National Health Service (NHS) were interviewed. Such individuals were accessed via a law firm in England, which has a substantial legal practice in this area.

Nicholas Liddane

This paper was published in the immediate aftermath of the seminal Irish High Court decision of Fleming v Ireland (2013), and reviews what was the state of the law on euthanasia and assisted suicide in the United Kingdom and Ireland. This paper posits that efforts to uphold the traditional ban on these practices while, in reality, issuing case-specific exemptions, results in an unwarranted ambiguous legal landscape. In particular, this paper criticises the Irish High Court’s decision in Fleming v Ireland having regard to its position on the issuing of DPP offence-specific guidelines. This paper then proceeds to assess the pertinent issues affecting euthanasia and assisted suicide through the lens of the sanctity of life argument, and empirical evidence from a number of other jurisdictions. Finally, this paper proposes tentative legislative reform to facilitate limited euthanasia and assisted suicide in Ireland. This paper was originally published in Volume 12 of the Cork Online Law Review. It was published prior to the Supreme Court appeal of this decision. This author's update on the Supreme Court decision in Fleming v Ireland is available here:

International Review of Law

Mahmood Chandia


Medicine Health Care and Philosophy

Stephen Holland

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

Nathan Emmerich

Antonio Terrone

Ahmed Abdulla

Elizabeth Peel , Rosie Harding

International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

C. Michael Hall

Mara Buchbinder

International Journal of Law and Psychiatry

Kirsty Keywood

Suzanne van de Vathorst , udo schuklenk

udo schuklenk

Ghislaine van Thiel , Johannes Van Delden

Jenny Kitzinger , Julie Latchem

Zohar Lederman

Public Health

Oliver Quick

Johannes Van Delden , Ghislaine van Thiel , P. Kouwenhoven

Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics

Jonathan Montgomery

Journal of Law & Medicine

Colin Gavaghan , Andrew Geddis

Cedric Gilson

Samuel G Waiganjo

Micol Pizzolati , Ana Patrícia Hilário

Medicine and law


Socio-Legal Studies Newsletter

RSS Fellow - Dr. Michelle Cowley-Cunningham

Medical Law Review

Giles Birchley

SSRN Electronic Journal

Eve Darian-Smith

Daphna carmeli

Robert Leckey

Russell Sandberg

Olivia Duffield

Shanmukh Kamble

The Law Teacher

Kylie Burns

Social Science & Medicine

Els van Wijngaarden , Anne Goossensen

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  1. Case study limitations

    merits and limitations of case study method in socio legal research

  2. 🌷 Limitations of case study. Limitations of the Study. 2019-02-20

    merits and limitations of case study method in socio legal research

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    merits and limitations of case study method in socio legal research

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    merits and limitations of case study method in socio legal research

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    merits and limitations of case study method in socio legal research

  6. 🌷 Limitations of case study. Limitations of the Study. 2019-02-20

    merits and limitations of case study method in socio legal research


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  1. (PDF) Theory and Method in Socio-Legal Research

    Abstract. Socio-legal researchers increasingly recognise the need to employ a wide variety of methods in studying law and legal phenomena, and the need to be informed by an understanding of ...

  2. Case Study Method

    List of the Advantages of the Case Study Method. 1. It requires an intensive study of a specific unit. Researchers must document verifiable data from direct observations when using the case study method. This work offers information about the input processes that go into the hypothesis under consideration.

  3. Socio-Legal Methodology: Conceptual Underpinnings, Justifications and

    High Quality Research (UNSW Law 2013), 71% of researchers char acterised their research as socio-legal. A 2004 study A 2004 study of the United Kingdom academic community found that 50 % of legal ...


    A Socio-legal study is an interdisciplinary approach to analyze the law, legal phenomenon, and relationships between these and wider society. ... 6.1 Qualitative methods in socio-legal research. 6.2 Participant observation. 6.3 Interviews. ... explained (and justified) on the basis that it has certain social advantages over systems of social ...

  5. PDF Theory and Method in Socio-Legal Research Lange

    Theory and Method in Socio-Legal Research Analysing Law and Society - 11 sessions in Michaelmas Term These seminars provide an introduction to the different contributions that various disciplines have made to socio-legal research. Each session will introduce you to one or more of the themes in socio-legal research, reflecting the expertise of ...

  6. Case Study Method

    It enhances the experience, analyzing ability, and skills of the researcher. It facilitates the drawing of inferences and helps in maintaining the continuity of the research process. Limitations: Important limitations of the case study method may as well be highlighted. Case situations are seldom comparable and as such the information gathered ...

  7. 12 Case Study Method Advantages and Disadvantages

    Even interviews can be conducted over the phone. That means this method is good for formative research that is exploratory in nature, even if it must be completed from a remote location. 6. It is inexpensive. Compared to other methods of research, the case study method is rather inexpensive.

  8. Case Study Design: Examples, Steps, Advantages & Disadvantages

    Case study research has both advantages and disadvantages. Important advantages are that a case study researcher can see a relationship between phenomena, context, and people and explore deep ...

  9. Seminar 8

    Socio-legal research is significant because in linking the law to society, it functionalises law, rendering it an effective instrument for the achievement of social, political and economic objectives socio-legal methodology is by nature inter-disciplinary and, therefore, allows the building of bridges between the law and other disciplines such ...


    understand the method s of socio - legal research, its sources and various areas where the socio-legal research can be applied. Objectives 4.2. By reading this unit a reader will be able to - • Understand the perspectives of Socio - legal Research. • Know the methods of Collection of data in socio-legal research.

  11. What the Case Study Method Really Teaches

    Cases expose students to real business dilemmas and decisions. Cases teach students to size up business problems quickly while considering the broader organizational, industry, and societal ...

  12. PDF Introduction: exploring the comparative in sociolegal studies

    material as the basis for illuminating socio-legal comparisons; both caution and inspiration can be found in the related debates. A number of different approaches to qualitative, socio-legal comparison are illustrated by the papers in this special issue. II. Comparative law and socio-legal research

  13. The case study approach

    The case study approach allows in-depth, multi-faceted explorations of complex issues in their real-life settings. The value of the case study approach is well recognised in the fields of business, law and policy, but somewhat less so in health services research. Based on our experiences of conducting several health-related case studies, we reflect on the different types of case study design ...

  14. Importance of Case Study Method in Legal Research

    3.2 Merits of Case Study Method: Merits of case study method can be. described briefly as follows: 1. The case study helps to study and understand the human nature and. conducts very intensively. As a result, any researcher can formulate a. valid hypothesis. 2. Any researcher can get actual and exemplary records of experience that

  15. Legal Research Methodology: Types And Approaches of Legal ...

    The quantitative research method supplements traditional legal research to investigate the complexities of the law, legal actors, and legal activities. Quantitative legal research is mostly applicable for conducting non-doctrinal, empirical, and socio-legal research. Objectivity remains the main aspect of quantitative research.

  16. Essay: Benefits and disadvantages of different research ...

    Library based or doctrinal research and socio-legal methods. Legal research methodology denotes the exposition, the description or the explanation and the justification of methods used in conducting research in the discipline of law. At the postgraduate level, legal research may be carried out by utilising one or more of number of different ...

  17. (DOC) Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of two

    Socio-legal theory is stated in the introduction and methods sections of research, and includes participant observation, surveys and elite network studies. Harris (1983) noted that socio-legal studies can investigate important problems ignored within the doctrinal approach.

  18. What is Doctrinal and Non-Doctrinal Legal Research?

    Non-doctrinal research, also known as social-legal research, is research that employs methods taken from other disciplines to generate empirical data that answers research questions. It can be a ...