Why Methods Matter in European Legal Scholarship

25 Pages Posted: 9 May 2014

See all articles by Rob Van Gestel

Rob Van Gestel

Tilburg University

Hans‐Wolfgang Micklitz

European University Institute

Date Written: May 2014


Both in the United States and in Europe, there is a debate on methodology in legal research. Doctrinalists and multidisciplinarians appear to be in different camps fighting over the ‘true nature’ of legal scholarship. We wonder where this renewed attention for methodology is coming from and what is behind it. Should European legal scholars follow certain colleagues in the United States who believe that doctrinal research is dead and should we all engage in law and … research now? If not, does this imply that there is nothing wrong with mainstream European doctrinal legal scholarship? We believe the latter is not the case. Our hypothesis is that an ongoing instrumentalisation of law and legal research decreases the attention for methodology, for theory building, and for keeping enough professional distance to one's object of research. This threatens to result in a creeping process of herd behaviour, in copy pasting the methodology of judicial lawmaking to legal scholarship and in a lack of transparency and methodological justification in scholarly legal publications. What is desperately needed is more reflection on methodology and theory building in European legal scholarship.

Suggested Citation

Van Gestel, Rob and Micklitz, Hans‐Wolfgang, Why Methods Matter in European Legal Scholarship (May 2014). European Law Journal, Vol. 20, Issue 3, pp. 292-316, 2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2434902 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/eulj.12049

Rob Van Gestel (Contact Author)

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC Noord-Brabant 5000 LE

Hans‐Wolfgang Micklitz

European University Institute

Villa Schifanoia
133 via Bocaccio
Firenze (Florence), Tuscany 50014

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