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Improving the Credibility of Empirical Legal Research: Practical Suggestions for Researchers, Journals and Law Schools

Abstract

Fields closely related to empirical legal research (ELR) are enhancing their methods to improve the credibility of their findings. This includes making data, analysis codes and other materials openly available on digital repositories and preregistering studies. There are numerous benefits to these practices, such as research being easier to find and access through digital research methods. However, ELR appears to be lagging cognate fields. This may be partly due to a lack of field-specific meta-research and guidance. We sought to fill that gap by first evaluating credibility indicators in ELR, including a review of guidelines for legal journals. This review finds considerable room for improvement in how law journals regulate ELR. The remainder of the article provides practical guidance for the field. We start with general recommendations for empirical legal researchers and then turn to recommendations aimed at three commonly used empirical legal methods: content analyses of judicial decisions, surveys and qualitative studies. We end with suggestions for journals and law schools.

Published: 2021-07-28
Section: Online First
How to Cite
Chin, J. M., DeHaven, A. C., Heycke, T., Holcombe, A. O., Mellor, D. T., Pickett, J. T., Steltenpohl, C. N., Vazire, S., & Zeiler, K. (2021). Improving the Credibility of Empirical Legal Research: Practical Suggestions for Researchers, Journals and Law Schools. Law, Technology and Humans, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.5204/lthj.1875

Author Biographies

The University of Sydney
Australia Australia

The University of Sydney School of Law

Center for Open Science
United States United States

Center for Open Science

GESIS—Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences
Germany Germany

GESIS—Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

The University of Sydney
Australia Australia

The University of Sydney School of Psychology

Center For Open Science
United States United States

Center For Open Science

University at Albany, SUNY
United States United States

University at Albany, SUNY (State University of New York)

The University of Melbourne
Australia Australia

University of Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences

Boston University School of Law
United States United States

Boston University School of Law

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2652-4074