Legal research methodology

Research method

Research method  

  • The method which the researcher uses while studying his research problem.
  • MC Graw and George Watson “Have defined method as the procedure by which researchers go about their work of describing, explaining and predicting phenomenon.”

Research methodology

It is a science of philosophy of different research methods.

Types of research methods 

  1. Analytical method –It involves a careful examination and evolution of something to understand it, explain it, or draw inferences and conclusions from it. In legal research, it is used to analyze and examine the nature, purpose, and adequacy of law in any particular area. Ex Article- 21
  2. Historical method – This method involves the study of past facts, events, or institutions. The purpose is to determine how and why certain principles or institutions have come to take present form. It helps in research where it is required to find the origin or trace of the development. In legal research, it helps explore the circumstances in which the present law has evolved. Ex – research on the establishment of the supreme court.
  3. Empirical method [non-doctrinal] – This method aims to study the human behavior in the society in which he lives, the relationship he maintains and the influences exerted upon him, and their counter effects upon the society. The conclusion drawn is verified by observation and experiments. It uses database research. Ex children are working in the hazardous industry.
  4. Comparative method –in this method, researchers collect, examines the notions, doctrines, rules found in one or more legal systems, and points out the similarities or differences b/w the two. Ex – laws of different countries. 
  5. Qualitative method –this method involves data in text, images, or sound, which are drawn from observation. Ex research on articles 21
  6. Case study method –P.V. young defined as the method of exploring and analyzing the life of a social unit, be that a person, family, institution, or any cultural group. It is the deep and detailed study of a unit.  Ex: autobiography, research on Aryans. 
  7. Interdisciplinary method- It is the method in which the researcher integrates information, data, concepts, theory from two or more disciplines [Branch of study]. Ex: Researcher study on cybercrime.
  8. Statistical method- In this method, social, legal phenomena are measured with the help of figures. Ex. Census method
  9. Micro- macro method- 
  • The micro method is used to analyze a specific legal problem. It should include something new like solutions or new interpretations. Ex: Studying specific statutes or cases.
  • Macro method concerns with the analysis of the general concept, problems, and principles of law. Ex: Research on cyber law.

10. Scientific method- 

  • Building a body of scientific knowledge related to observation experimentation, generalization, and verification.
  • According to George .S. Lund bug, the scientific method consist of systematic observation clarification, and interpretation of data.

Steps involved

  • Observation
  • Collecting information
  • Classification 
  • Analysis
  • Interpretation/ conclusion


  • It relies on the empirical method.
  • The method is free from personal bias.
  • It makes only an adequate and correct statement about the object.
  • It gives the method which is capable of being verified.
  • It is the method wherein the rules of logical reasoning guide the researcher.
  • It results in possible predication.

Research Process

  1. Formulation of a research problem:
  • The researcher must decide the general area of interest of a subject matter that he would like to inquire about further and the steps involved in formulating the research problem area.
    • Understand the problem slowly 
    • Rephrasing the same into meaningful terms.
  • It is vital as it determines the data that is to be collected, characteristics of relevant data.


  • Whether right to die can be included under article 21?
  • Whether CCI is successful or not?

2. Extensive literature survey

  • Sources: Primary includes Acts, rules, and codes.

                   The secondary includes articles, journals.

  • A summary of the literature is generally prepared. Ex. Academic Journals, government repairs, books, commentaries, supreme cases, etc., are considered for the research.

3. Development of working hypothesis:

  • The hypothesis is a tentative generalization of a problem, i.e., tested and verified and based on which inference is drawn. 
  • Hypothesis provides the focal point for research. It should be specific. It helps in determining the area of research and keeps the researcher on the right track.

Ex: Hypothesis right to die included under article 21.

4. Preparing the research design: Research design is a plan of action plan for collecting and analyzing data in an economical, efficient, and relevant manner. It is the outline of the whole research. It identifies the objective and purpose of the research. The tentative cauterization of the research is done in research design.  

5. Method investigation

  • Research methods: Methods are chosen depending upon nature, aim, and goal of the problem. Suitable research methods like analytical method, Historical method, doctrinal method, etc., are selected.
  • Research tools: Various tools like census method, interview, questionnaires, etc., are decided.

6. Collection of data:  By using the above tool, the data is collected by the researcher. The essential facts and data are arranged in a systematic order. The tabulation and organization of data are done under this step.

7. Analysis of data:

  • After the data has been collected, the researcher analyzed the data. The researcher applies principles, and a line of argument is prepared.
  • The purpose of data analysis is to summarize the completed observation so that they yield answers to the research questions.

8.Testing of the hypothesis: After analysis, the researcher can test his hypothesis. He will examine whether the material collected supports his hypothesis or negates it.

9. Conclusion: Based on the analysis, the researcher concludes that he may suggest new solutions to a problem.

10. Bibliography/ references: Sources of information are provided at the end of the research.

Criteria of a good researcher

  • The purpose of research should be clearly defined.
  • The research method should be clearly defined with sufficient details.
  • Any limitations or assumptions should be mentioned.
  • Research design should be well planned.
  • Researchers should consider reliable or relevant data.
  • The conclusion must be appropriately justified.
  • The integrity and commitment of the researcher are paramount as fundamental research depends on the same.

Legal Methods

  1. Primary source: It is the original information collected for the first time.

Ex: Constitution, Legislation, Statutes, Rules, and orders

Direct Primary SourceIndirect Primary Sources
Personally observed events. Behavior activities.  Interview, questionnaires etc.  

2. Secondary Sources: These are collected from outside, either from a public source or someone else who has already worked on the subject.

Ex. Newspapers, journals, reports, parliamentary debates, judgments, life history, articles, AIR manual, Supreme Court journals, etc.


It is a method by which the location of the authority from where the research matters have been collected/ taken.

  • (Year, Month, date)- (2021, 05, 10)
  • Panday, Dr. J.N.(2015), chapter name, book name, edition, publication house, volume, page number.
  • Available at <http//: ……………. >, accessed on date.

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