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Classifications Of Legal Research Doctrinal And Non-Doctrinal Research

Legal research has traditionally focused on the creation and expansion of legal doctrines as well as the normative objectives of the Law. Additionally, it aims to prove claims about the nature of law. This is true because legal studies and the law itself are essential components of the legal research process and cannot be separated from them. This article aims to focus sharply on the ongoing discussion on methodological usage by critically comparing doctrinal and non-doctrinal legal research.

Non-doctrinal research, also known as social-legal research, has recently gained attention as an emerging trend in research, despite the fact that the doctrinal research method is the most widely used and traditional mode of research in the legal field. It takes into account how law interacts with society and its effects using techniques that have been proven effective in other fields.

The focus of this article is on the fact that doctrinal and non-doctrinal research methodologies are not incompatible and that substituting one for the other would be shortsighted and detrimental to the field of study. This study comes to the conclusion that in order to address current trends in legal research, there is a need for a combination of both methodologies rather than competition between them i.e - doctrinal and non-doctrinal. This paper suggests that the majority of legal scholarly work adopt this hybrid approach.

Legal research is the process of identifying and finding information needed to support legal decision making. Generally, the process of finding legal precedent can be cited in a brief or at trial. Almost every lawsuit, complaint, criminal case usually requires some level of legal research. Legal research skills are very important for lawyers to handle any legal case, regardless of region or industry. A key step in legal research is to find a notable case that addresses the issues. As most legal experts know, this is much more complicated than it sounds.

There are many types of Legal Research like Descriptive Legal Research, Quantitative Research, Qualitative Legal Research, Analytical Legal Research, Applied Legal Research, Pure Legal Research, Conceptual Legal Research, Empirical Legal Research, Comparative Legal Research, Doctrinal Legal Research, Non-doctrinal Legal Research, etc.

The two prominent methodologies used in legal research are doctrinal and non-doctrinal. The former leans more towards theoretical aspects and researchers, so it is also known as "library" or "armchair" research. The latter is more practical and approaches the observation in a multidisciplinary way. That is why it is also called "empirical" research.

Introduction to Doctrinal and Non-Doctrinal Research:
Doctrinal research-:
It is a theoretical study and it is pure in nature. Traditional legal sources such as committee reports, legal history, legal statements, facts accepted by the legislature and parliament, etc. are the sources of doctrinal jurisprudential research.

Non-doctrinal research:
It is also known as empirical research or socio-legal research, it is based on experiences and observations. It is cross-border research. Non-doctrinal legal research attempts to use empirical data to investigate as how law and legal institutions influence people's attitudes and what effects they have on society.

Meaning and definition:
Doctrinal research is a study conducted by analyzing existing legal provisions and cases using reasoning and based on a legal proposition or propositions.

Doctrinal research involves the analysis of jurisprudence, the organization and systematization of legal arguments, and the study of legal institutions through legal reasoning or rational reasoning. One of the goals of traditional jurisprudence is to find a legal standard to solve a problem. Therefore, the quality of scientific research depends on the source material on which the researcher relies in his research.

As much of research methodology involves identifying authoritative sources and using techniques to find them, the researcher should know how to use a law library. Social security legislation placed a heavy burden on the courts in a dynamic society. There are gaps in the law and the courts must develop doctrinal principles, norms and standards in general. Additionally, the statutory language is unclear. A word can become unclear when applied to a specific case whereas the same word appears to be clear when the law is enacted or interpreted.

Purpose of Doctrinal Research:
One of the main Purpose of Doctrinal research is to solve the legal problems of establishing laws. It can be used for many other purposes as well as helping legislators to develop meaningful and effective laws, developing fresh legal doctrines, helping courts to achieve effective and legal solutions. accurate rulings, helping lawyers interpret statutes and prepare lawsuits, college students created foundations, and more.

Concept of Doctrinal research:
Doctrinal research concerns legal precepts and teachings. The sources of information are the decisions of the European Court and the Court of Appeal. Educational research, also called traditional research, is not about people but about documents and is different non-doctrinal, also called empirical research.

Advantage& Disadvantages of Doctrinal research:
Doctrinal research has clarity as it provides clear and concise legal answers, it is cost effective as it does not require extensive data collection or empirical analysis and it is time efficient also as legal documents are easily available for reading. It can be used as research tools and methodologies. It has foundation of further research and helps in Professional Development but on the other side it has limited scope and is Bias as it is mostly relied upon legal sources which can be biased on a particular interpretation of the law.

It has lack of empirical evidence as it does not involve the collection of empirical data and it has difficulty in predicting outcomes as it is basically focused on analyzing past legal decisions and interpreting legal sources so it may not be reliable in predicting future legal outcomes. It has limited applicability as it may only apply to the specific legal system or jurisdiction being studied so it may not apply to the other methodologies of research.

Non-Doctrinal Research:
Non-doctrinal/socio legal research is a multidisciplinary field of inquiry that examines the intersections of law and society. Socio-legal research is a methodology that combines social sciences and legal principles to study the interaction between law and society. It involves the use of empirical methods to analyze legal institutions, practices and policies in their social context. The socio-legal approach recognizes that law is shaped by social, economic, cultural and political factors, and that legal norms and practices in turn influence behavior's and social change.

Socio-legal research typically involves a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods such as interviews, surveys, case studies, content analysis, and statistical analysis. This interdisciplinary approach allows researchers to examine how legal systems and practices affect individuals and communities, and how social norms and behavior's shape legal institutions and the decision-making process.

The ultimate goal of socio-legal research is to provide insight into the complex relationship between law and society and to inform policy decisions and law reform efforts that can promote justice and equality in society.

Purpose of Non-Doctrinal research:
Non-doctrinal research's purpose is to determine whether a law is useful or how it affects society's non-legal aspects. Non-legal elements can also have an impact on how the law is applied. Sometimes a very comprehensive law is introduced, but the environment is such that those conditions shield its effectiveness. For instance, a law enacted to liberalize the economy by opening the market to foreign competitors might be seen as devastating during a pandemic when the domestic market is severely affected by lockdown.

Concept of Doctrinal research:
Non-doctrinal research, also known as socio-legal research, is research that uses methods taken from other disciplines to obtain empirical data relevant to research questions. It could be a problem, a policy or a reform of an existing law. Legal non-doctrinal discovery can be qualitative or quantitative, and a dogmatic non-doctrinal discovery can be part of a larger project. A non-doctrinal approach allows the researcher to conduct studies that analyze law from the perspective of other scientific branches and use those disciplines in drafting the law.

Advantage& Disadvantages of Non-Doctrinal research:
The main benefit of non-doctrinal research is still its applicability to real-world problems. It aids in evaluating the usefulness of laws in a variety of non-legal fields. It is a useful tool for assessing how well the law functions in society. When all the potential influences are taken into account, a comprehensive analysis of legal issues can be made. Additionally, when data is quantified, it gains credibility and appeal on a logical level. Additionally, it is more trustworthy because it draws on authentic sources of data.

On the other hand, non-doctrinal research takes a lot of effort and time. The availability of money is a further obstacle. Data collection can be a difficult task. Additionally, gathering the appropriate pool of information from society can be rife with mistakes. Different people have varying levels of knowledge and comprehension, they each have personal biases. This itself implies that the data gathered, such as from surveys and questionnaires, may be biased and deceptive. Additionally, gathering primary data on some delicate subjects can be a risky task for the researcher. The researcher's own biases and prejudices may also taint the research.

Difference between Doctrinal and Non-Doctrinal Research/Socio-Legal Research:

There are several key differences between doctrinal research and non-doctrinal research:
Focus: While socio-legal research focuses on the social, political, and economic contexts in which legal rules are developed, upheld, and applied, doctrinal research analyzes legal principles and rules.

Methodology: While socio-legal research frequently employs qualitative research techniques like interviews, surveys, and the like, the doctrinal research typically entails the analysis of legal sources like statutes, case law, and legal commentaries.

Interdisciplinary approach: Theoretical and methodological insights from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, political science, and psychology, are frequently incorporated into socio-legal research. Conversely, the focus of doctrinal research is typically more on the analysis and interpretation of law.

Purpose: While socio-legal research is frequently used to inform policy choices and to promote legal and social reforms, doctrinal research is frequently used to develop legal arguments.

Perspective: While socio-legal research frequently adopts a more critical stance, examining how legal rules and processes may reflect and reinforce pre-existing power structures and social inequalities, doctrinal research frequently focuses on legal rules and principles from a neutral or objective perspective.

Scope: While socio-legal research may examine a variety of legal issues within a specific social, political, or economic context, doctrinal research typically focuses on a specific legal issue or area of law.

Overall, doctrinal and socio-legal approaches to legal research are both significant.

To conclude, it is simple to pinpoint a particular methodology and its advantages and disadvantages.

Though it should be noted, though, that doctrinal and non-doctrinal legal research is the only surefire way to find the solutions to the questions that have been raised in the context of attempts to comprehend the new legal issues within the legal system. The importance of each methodology to the creation and comprehension of the law is equal, and there is no hierarchy between them.

The most important thing is that researchers make an effort to give themselves the tools they need to comfortably accomplish their research goals. A knowledgeable student will undoubtedly be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of any particular methodology and will work to reap the rewards of higher standards of work.

A mix of methodologies, such as an ideological, social, and legal approach, can frequently work together to improve our understanding of the law. Therefore, graduate students would be wise to arm themselves with alternative research techniques.

  • Tiwary, Shriram. "Doctrinal and Non-Doctrinal." Academia. 2020. (accessed July 4, 2021).

Written By:
  1. Simant Priyadarshi, LLM Constitution, ICFAI Law School, The ICFAI University, Dehradun
    Email: [email protected]
  2. Ashish Kumar Singhal, Associate Professor, ICFAI Law School, The ICFAI University, Dehradun
    Email: [email protected]

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Simant Priyadarshi
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