Empirical legal research in Australia: career or dead-end?

29 OCTOBER 2010

A CSU legal academic challenged early career legal scholars to broaden their horizons when she delivered a keynote address to a post-graduate law conference in Sydney today, Friday 29 October.

CSU's Professor Jane Goodman-DelahuntyA Charles Sturt University (CSU) legal academic challenged early career legal scholars to broaden their horizons when she delivered a keynote address to a post-graduate law conference in Sydney today, Friday 29 October.
 
Professor Jane Goodman-Delahunty, a researcher at the CSU Australian Graduate School of Policing in Manly, and the School of Psychology in Bathurst, said her presentation, Law and Empirical Research in Australia: Careers for 2011 and beyond, explored new pathways to empirical legal research in multiple disciplines.
 
“There is an increasing demand for empirical legal research, which is the study of the operation and impact of the law, and tests of assumptions in the legal system,” Professor Goodman-Delahunty said.
 
“Such analysis, particularly when made known to the legal profession and to the community, serves to balance and check theory and speculation, and can change both our perceptions of issues and the way the legal system works.
 
“What I challenge my audience to consider is how an academic can survive as a legal scholar in a changing academic marketplace, particularly since formal training in empirical legal research methods is rarely offered in Australian law schools, while empirical legal studies are in demand and attracting competitive research funding.”
 
Professor Goodman-Delahunty said the model of a lone researcher conducting doctrinal analysis, publishing sole-authored textbooks and articles is fast becoming redundant.
 
“Alternative models of scholarship are emerging that are interdisciplinary, collaborative, and evidence-based. I discuss why empirical legal research matters, and show how legal scholars might incorporate social science perspectives and methods to bridge the divide between traditional legal research and policy-oriented legal reforms,” she said.

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