Doctrinal Legal Research
16 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2018
Date Written: February 26, 2018
Lawyers, judges and jurists have widely been using doctrinal research as a systematic means of legal reasoning since the nineteenth century. Doctrinal research is therefore established as the traditional genre of research in the legal field. Also known as theory-testing or knowledge- building research in legal academia, it deals with studying existing laws, related cases and authoritative materials analytically on some specific matter. With its jurisprudential base on positivism, doctrinal legal research is ‘research in law’ rather than ‘research about law.’
Distinguished from literature review, content analysis or historical legal research, doctrinal legal research studies legal propositions based on secondary data of authorities such as conventional legal theories, laws, statutory materials, court decisions, among others. This paper intends to bring to light and analyse doctrinal legal research, its purpose, distinctive characteristics and ongoing debate on methodological usage. The paper underscores the need of convergence rather than rivalry between doctrinal and non-doctrinal socio- legal research to address the problems in the legal field.
Keywords: Legal research, doctrinal research, theoretical research, traditional research, library based research, black-letter law research
JEL Classification: K10, K30, K40
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