Types of Legal Research

Types of Legal Research: All You Should Know

This article on ‘Types of Legal Research: All you should know‘ was written by Rosy Adhikary, an intern at Legal Upanishad.


Regardless of their areas of practice, individual attorneys (advocates) and law firms need to conduct legal research. It aids in the crucial case search in the event of a question or uncertainty pertaining to any case. Finding the preeminent case governing the key issues in question is the most fundamental and first step in conducting legal research in the legal sector. In this article, an attempt has been made to study the concept, objectives, and various types of legal research that a law student needs to apply during his/her law school.


Research is described as an “artistic and systematic effort that aims to expand the knowledge base.” This comprises obtaining, organising, and analysing facts to describe a topic, and it stands out by putting a strong emphasis on minimising prejudice and error sources. The French verb “recerchier,” which meant “to search again,” may have been the source of the term “research.” It implies that a new search is required because the previous one was not complete and thorough.

Legal Research

Legal research is more than just studying the law on a scientific level. Instead, one of the goals of legal study is to uncover philosophical or political justifications for the law. Finding support for a particular legal issue or judgment is the goal of legal study. Legal research is done by individuals with a need for legal advice including law professionals, law librarians, and paralegals providers of legal information ranging from textbooks to free online websites. Advocates must do legal research, for instance, if they require court rulings (also known as case law) to support a legal contention they are making in a motion or brief submitted to the court.

Nature and scope of legal research

  • Legal research is not fundamentally distinct from other studies. Its topics of investigation are inextricably linked to either pure law or law in connection to society.
  • Legal research broadly refers to each stage of a method of action that starts with an analysis of the facts of a situation and ends with the implementation and disclosure of the investigation’s findings.
  • Legal information and understanding can conduct legal research.
  • Legal research advances numerous legal areas. Legal research is not fundamentally unique from other types of study. Its research questions are inextricably linked to either pure law or law in connection to societal structure.

The objective of legal research

  1. To check and validate old facts.
  2. To evaluate the data within fresh theoretical frameworks.
  3. To evaluate the effects of recent facts.
  4. To create novel legal theories.
  5. Using historical context to assess the law.
  6. To apply a strict interpretation of the Act.


Primary and Secondary Sources

The real law can be found in primary sources. Primary sources include things like constitutions, court rulings, cases, statutes, treaties, and administrative rules.

Materials that remark, clarify, and reflect on these original sources are referred to as secondary sources. They typically consist of treaties, legal periodicals, essays, annotations, law dictionaries, commentaries, publications for continuing legal education, and opinions from the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Ministry of Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs, among other organisations.

Types of Legal Research
Types of Legal Research

Types of legal research

  • Applied research- In applied research, specific issues are solved using established ideas and principles. Case studies, experimental research, and cross-disciplinary research are primarily applied research. For basic research, applied research is useful. Applied research also refers to a study whose results are immediately useful. This kind of study is helpful for ongoing work. The technique called “applied legal research” is utilised to identify a workable answer to a current practical issue. It is a simple, effective strategy for the matter you are handling. It entails conducting thorough research on a particular area of law, learning about the relevant technical legal laws and principles, and then forming an opinion on the client’s chances in the situation.
  • Quantitative Research- It employs data or mathematics, is numeric, non-descriptive, and uses numbers:
    • The process of evaluating the evidence is constant.
    • Diagrams and tables are frequently used to show the results.
    • It is definitive.
    • It looks into the who, what, and when of making decisions.
  • Qualitative research- It employs logic and is descriptive, non-numerical, and verbal. Its objective is to capture the sentiment, mood, and situation. Graphing qualitative data is not possible. It’s an investigation. It looks into the causes and mechanisms of decision-making.
  • Mixed research- Research that combines qualitative and quantitative techniques or that exhibits certain paradigm traits The variables, words, and images that make up data are mixed together.
  • Exploratory Research- A literature search or focus group interviews may be part of exploratory research. This kind of investigation into novel occurrences could be beneficial. In order to gain deeper knowledge, the researcher may determine whether a more thorough examination is feasible or pick the ideal methods for a subsequent investigation. For these reasons, exploratory research often has a broad focus and rarely provides definitive answers to specific study topics. Exploratory research aims to pinpoint important problems and important variables.
  • Descriptive research – Descriptive Legal research is described as a research method describing the traits of the population or topic being studied. The purpose of descriptive research is to examine “what” and how many instances of this “what” there are. As a result, it aims to respond to inquiries like, “What is this?”
  • Longitudinal Research- Collecting data over a lengthy period of time is necessary for longitudinal research. Studies conducted over a long period of time can be:
    • Examination of trends focuses on demographic characteristics over time, such as the annual rate of organisational absenteeism
    • Studying a cohort -Evaluates trends in a subpopulation, such as absenteeism in the sales department.
    • A panel study -This shows the progression of a single sample over time, such as graduate career paths from 1990 to the present.

While longitudinal investigations are frequently more time- and money-consuming than cross-sectional studies, they are more likely to pinpoint causal connections between different factors.

  • Cross-sectional Research – Studies that only collect data once over the course of a few days, weeks, or months are referred to as one-shot or cross-sectional studies. A lot of cross-sectional studies aim to describe or conduct exploration. They are forced to focus on the present situation alone, without taking into account past events or current tendencies.
  • Action research- Facts to enhance the effectiveness of action in the social sphere.
  • Policy-Oriented Research – The question “How can problem ‘X’ be solved or prevented?” is the main subject of reports based on this kind of study.
  • Classification research – It seeks to classify units into categories.
  1. To show differences
  2. To clarify relationships
  • Comparative analysis – To recognise parallels and discrepancies among units at all levels. This entails a comparison of legal theories, laws, and international laws. It emphasises the cultural and social nature of law and how it functions in various contexts. Therefore, it is helpful in creating, revising, and changing the law. Because it might not behave the same way in a different setting, it is prudent to use caution when taking the law of one social setting as a base.
  • Causal analysis – It attempts to build a causal chain between several variables.
  • Research that tests theories – Its goal is to evaluate a unit’s reliability. Research builds theories, to develop and formulate the theory.


It is impossible for the legal profession to advance without study and discoveries. This is primarily due to the dynamic nature of the legislation. Whether they are lawyers, academics, practitioners who are interested in the law, or law students, legal research is an essential aspect of the lives of all legal professionals. Examining the body of laws and social norms is necessary because society and laws are changing daily.