Progress in Legal Methodology – A Methodological Assessment of Six PhD Theses

Sanne Taekema, Bart van Klink

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In this article, the question is raised to what extent the methodology debate in legal scholarship has improved the practice by PhD researchers of justifying their methodology. Over the past twenty years, there has been much more consideration and discussion of legal methods, especially in Dutch academia. Taking this Dutch debate as a starting point, Taekema and Van Klink argue that it has led to a normative framework with which the methodology of legal research can be assessed. Formulating a set of topics and questions that form the core of this framework, they apply it to a set of six fairly recent PhD dissertations. Building on these cases, they observe that some progress is made from a methodological point of view, compared with the situation described by Tijssen in his PhD thesis from 2006. Taekema and Van Klink conclude, however, that the methodology debate appears not to have led to a significantly better practice of methodological justification, at least not yet on all assessment criteria. The normative framework of a dissertation, for instance, still deserves attention.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalLaw and Method
Issue numberJul-Sept
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


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