The Overlapping Magisteria of Law and Science: When Litigation and Science Collide

38 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2006 Last revised: 30 Jun 2015

See all articles by William G. Childs

William G. Childs

Western New England University School of Law

Date Written: 2006


The Supreme Court's 1993 decision in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals transformed courts' evaluation of expert testimony. Many courts, applying Daubert, focus extensively on whether the purported expert's methodology has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

This focus on peer review results in two unintended consequences that have triggered criticism: litigation-driven scholarship and litigants taking discovery into the peer review process. Critics contend that litigation-driven scholarship is irredeemably biased and that peer review discovery is too often an effort to intimidate scholars from speaking on subjects of public concern.

In this Article, I explore these phenomena and the criticisms of them, as well as the history of peer review itself. Contrary to the critics, I ultimately conclude that each, in fact, can strengthen both law and science through cross-fertilization, if appropriate checks are established. Such efforts will better reflect law and science's overlapping magisteria (a term roughly meaning the disciplines' area of authority). A better recognition and understanding of this overlap will create incentives to improve both law and science.

Keywords: Daubert, peer review, litigation-driven scholarship, research subpoenas

JEL Classification: K13, K41

Suggested Citation

Childs, William G., The Overlapping Magisteria of Law and Science: When Litigation and Science Collide (2006). Nebraska Law Review Vol.85, p. 643, 2006, Available at SSRN:

William G. Childs (Contact Author)

Western New England University School of Law ( email )

1215 Wilbraham Road
Springfield, MA 01119
United States
413-782-1447 (Phone)


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