Empirical Legal Scholarship as Scientific Dialogue

45 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2004

See all articles by Gregory Mitchell

Gregory Mitchell

University of Virginia School of Law


This paper considers how the scientific status of empirical legal scholarship might be enhanced. The leading proposal for making empirical legal research more scientific is to move to a system of peer review for research reports. Although a move to pre-publication peer review might well improve the quality of empirical legal research, the probability of a widespread adoption of peer review by law reviews is low. A more feasible reform is for law reviews to adopt a set of stringent disclosure requirements designed to foster critical review and replication of empirical legal research. Adherence to such disclosure rules would increase the objectivity of empirical legal research by forcing researchers to commit publicly to definite empirical propositions in reproducible terms and would facilitate the systematic accumulation of knowledge about legal phenomena using meta-analysis.

Keywords: empirical legal research, meta-analysis, replication, peer review, law and social science

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Gregory, Empirical Legal Scholarship as Scientific Dialogue. FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 113, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=528962

Gregory Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-243-4088 (Phone)

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