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
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:
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
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/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
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
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
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
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
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
- Tiwary, Shriram. "Doctrinal and Non-Doctrinal." Academia. 2020. https://www.academia.edu/40656281/Doctrinal_and_Non_Doctrinal_Methods_of_Legal_Research
(accessed July 4, 2021).
- Simant Priyadarshi, LLM Constitution, ICFAI Law School, The ICFAI
Email: [email protected]
- 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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