The Need for Multi-Method Approaches in Empirical Legal Research

Laura B Nielsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


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 multimethod 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191743641
ISBN (Print)9780199542475
StatePublished - Sep 18 2012


  • Empirical legal research
  • Law and society
  • Multi-method research
  • Multi-method tradition
  • Research technique
  • Triangulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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