Making Doctrinal Work More Rigorous: Lessons from Systematic Reviews

16 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2016 Last revised: 25 Jul 2016

William Baude

University of Chicago - Law School

Adam S. Chilton

University of Chicago - Law School

Anup Malani

University of Chicago - Law School; University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine; Resources for the Future; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 19, 2016

Abstract

Legal scholars, lawyers, and judges frequently make positive claims about the state of legal doctrine. Yet despite the profligate citation norms of legal writing, these claims are often supported in a somewhat imprecise way – where the exact evidence is unclear or difficult for others to probe or falsify. In response to similar issues, other disciplines have developed methodological standards for conducting “systematic reviews” that summarize the state of knowledge on a given subject. In this essay we argue that methods for performing systematic reviews that are specifically tailored to legal analysis should be developed. We propose a simple four-step process that could be used whenever someone is trying to make objective claims about the state of legal doctrine, and illustrate the value of this method by applying it to doctrinal claims that have been made in recent legal scholarship.

Keywords: Legal scholarship, Systematic Reviews, Doctrinal Analysis, Best Practices, Restatements

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Baude, William and Chilton, Adam S. and Malani, Anup, Making Doctrinal Work More Rigorous: Lessons from Systematic Reviews (July 19, 2016). University of Chicago Law Review, Forthcoming; University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 768; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 588. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2811771

William Baude

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Adam S. Chilton (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.adamchilton.org

Anup Malani

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-9602 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/malani/

University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Resources for the Future

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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