The Need for Multi-Method Approaches in Empirical Legal Research

Laura Beth Nielsen

in The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199542475
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

The Need for Multi-Method Approaches in Empirical Legal Research


Multi-method research is any research that uses more than one research technique or strategy to study one or several closely related phenomena. This method is described by triangulation. This article examines the multi-method tradition in empirical legal research, defines basic concepts, discusses when and why multi-method research is useful, and how the different actions of research can provide unique approaches to the same questions. It explores examples of projects to demonstrate how research that employs multiple tactics for observing and understanding is more reliable than a single study if the studies are of comparable quality. At the same time, multi-method research comes with great costs and risks that must be considered at the outset of such a project as well as during the project itself. However, it is speculated that multi-method research is perhaps the most effective way to understand the relationship between law and society.

Keywords: multi-method research; triangulation; empirical legal research; law and society; multi-method tradition; research technique

Article.  11129 words. 

Subjects: Law ; Comparative Law

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