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Access_open Empirical Legal Research in Europe: Prevalence, Obstacles, and Interventions

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2018
Keywords empirical legal research, Europe, popularity, increase, journals
Authors Gijs van Dijck, Shahar Sverdlov and Gabriela Buck
AbstractAuthor's information

    Empirical Legal research (ELR) has become well established in the United States, whereas its popularity in Europe is debatable. This article explores the popularity of ELR in Europe. The authors carried out an empirical analysis of 78 European-based law journals, encompassing issues from 2008-2017. The findings demonstrate that a supposed increase of ELR is questionable (at best).
    Moreover, additional findings highlight:

    • An increase for a few journals, with a small number of other journals showing a decrease over time;

    • A higher percentage of empirical articles for extra-legal journals than for legal journals (average proportion per journal is 4.6 percent for legal journals, 18.9 percent for extra-legal journals);

    • Criminal justice journals, environmental journals, and economically oriented journals being more likely to publish empirical articles than other journals;

    • More prestigious journals being more likely to publish empirical articles than less-prestigious journals;

    • Older journals being more likely to publish empirical work than younger journals, but not at an increasing rate;

    • Journals being legal/extra-legal, journals in a specific field, journal ranking, or the age of the journal not making it more (or less) likely that the journal will publish empirical articles at an increasing (or decreasing) rate.
      Considering the lack of convincing evidence indicating an increase of ELR, we identify reasons for why ELR is seemingly becoming more popular but not resulting in more empirical research in Europe. Additionally, we explore interventions for overcoming the obstacles ELR currently faces.

Gijs van Dijck
Professor of Private Law at Maastricht University, the Netherlands.

Shahar Sverdlov
Law student at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Gabriela Buck
Law student at Maastricht University, the Netherlands.

Access_open Evidence-Based Regulation and the Translation from Empirical Data to Normative Choices: A Proportionality Test

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2018
Keywords evidence-based, regulation, proportionality, empirical law studies, law and society studies
Authors Rob van Gestel and Peter van Lochem
AbstractAuthor's information

    Studies have shown that the effects of scientific research on law and policy making are often fairly limited. Different reasons can be given for this: scientists are better at falsifying hypothesis than at predicting the future, the outcomes of academic research and empirical evidence can be inconclusive or even contradictory, the timing of the legislative cycle and the production of research show mismatches, there can be clashes between the political rationality and the economic or scientific rationality in the law making process et cetera. There is one ‘wicked’ methodological problem, though, that affects all regulatory policy making, namely: the ‘jump’ from empirical facts (e.g. there are too few organ donors in the Netherlands and the voluntary registration system is not working) to normative recommendations of what the law should regulate (e.g. we need to change the default rule so that everybody in principle becomes an organ donor unless one opts out). We are interested in how this translation process takes place and whether it could make a difference if the empirical research on which legislative drafts are build is more quantitative type of research or more qualitative. That is why we have selected two cases in which either type of research played a role during the drafting phase. We use the lens of the proportionality principle in order to see how empirical data and scientific evidence are used by legislative drafters to justify normative choices in the design of new laws.

Rob van Gestel
Rob van Gestel is professor of theory and methods of regulation at Tilburg University.

Peter van Lochem
Dr. Peter van Lochem is jurist and sociologist and former director of the Academy for Legislation.
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