The hypocritical hype about ‘hypothesis’: Why legal research needs to shed this relic

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Abstract

Extract: There is no question a PhD cabdidate fears more than the unavoidable classic: 'So what is your hypothesis?" One reason this question sends shivers down the spine of PhD candidates — often some of our brightest people — is that it demands of them a summary of their work in a sentence, or a few sentences. This is a task that can hardly be carried out unless one knows one's topic inside out. However, for PhD candidates in the field of law, I suspect there is also another reason why questions about their hypothesis are uncomfortable — the very idea of a hypothesis is a poor fit for most forms of legal research. In this article, I will (I) examine the standard position on the role of the hypothesis taken in legal research method literature: (2) demonstrate why the hypothesis concept is a poor fit for legal research; (3) present a few speculations as to why legal scholars nevertheless insist on placing the hypothesis on the proverbial pedestal; and finally (4) propose an alternative that better suits legal research in general.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-262
Number of pages4
JournalAlternative Law Journal
Volume39
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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The hypocritical hype about ‘hypothesis’ : Why legal research needs to shed this relic. / Svantesson, Dan Jerker B.

In: Alternative Law Journal, Vol. 39, No. 4, 2014, p. 259-262.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debateResearchpeer-review

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AB - Extract: There is no question a PhD cabdidate fears more than the unavoidable classic: 'So what is your hypothesis?" One reason this question sends shivers down the spine of PhD candidates — often some of our brightest people — is that it demands of them a summary of their work in a sentence, or a few sentences. This is a task that can hardly be carried out unless one knows one's topic inside out. However, for PhD candidates in the field of law, I suspect there is also another reason why questions about their hypothesis are uncomfortable — the very idea of a hypothesis is a poor fit for most forms of legal research. In this article, I will (I) examine the standard position on the role of the hypothesis taken in legal research method literature: (2) demonstrate why the hypothesis concept is a poor fit for legal research; (3) present a few speculations as to why legal scholars nevertheless insist on placing the hypothesis on the proverbial pedestal; and finally (4) propose an alternative that better suits legal research in general.

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