Meaning of research: Generally, the term “research” is taken as an academic activity or as an art of scientific investigation. It is not only an important prerequisite for dynamic social order but also a systematic and objective analysis of information that is discovered. It is an established fact that the research is a foundation of the progress and prosperity achieved and may be achieved in future. Nobody can get specific and deep knowledge on any matter without having research that is why, research plays significant role in gaining knowledge. As a result, research can be defined as a systematic search for attaining deep knowledge.
The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defined the term “research” as a careful investigation or inquiry especially through search for new facts in any breech of knowledge.Encyclopedia of social science defined it as the manipulation of things, concept or symbols for generalizing to extend, correct or verify knowledge, whether that knowledge aids in construction of theory or in the practice of an art. Exhaustive investigation of a specific subject matters, which has its aim, the advancement of making knowledge. Keeping in view the said definitions, the term “research” can be defined as a method of gaining specific knowledge. It is not only a major factor for human-development but also of civilization. Similarly, research not only plays a signification role in academic scenario but also plays a vital role in practical life of whole humankind.
There are various methods used for pursuing research. Method applicable for research depends on the objectives of the research for instance impact analysis, theory inception or experiment, etc. Generally, research methods are divided as qualitative and quantitative, depending on its nature. The former method is understood as descriptive research and the latter as numerical. The qualitative research is most suitable for social research.
Legal Research: Generally, law is enacted to regulate the human conduct for the welfare of humankind. It is considered that law should be enacted to protect the interest of a person, society, and the county as a whole. The goal of legal research cannot be distinguished from the goal of law. As law is directly related with the social science, its research is also automatically related with the research of social science.
This is the age of democracy and good governance. Democracy and good governance depend upon the rule of law. In democratic society, law is changed for welfare of the people and society along with the pace of time. Alternatively, law shall not be constraint for the development rather it be facilitator. That is why law needs charges. Similarly, legal research is essential to have changes in law for socialization and betterment of the people and society.
Now-a-days, legal research is not limited only on the analyzing of criminal behavior, activities of public, court, public prosecutors, legal practitioners etc. but it also includes the protection of environment of all creatures in the world and the development as well. As a result, legal research plays crucial role for the welfare of the humankind and is more important than others to bring positive changes in our society and at the end in the whole humankind.
Different Meanings of legal research:
“Legal research is the field of study concerned with the effective marshaling of authorities that bears in a question of law”
“The systematic investigation of problems and matters concerned with such as codes, acts etc. are called legal research.”
“Legal research is an investigation directed to discovery of some fact; careful study of a subject.”
Keeping in view to the said definitions, we can say here that legal research is an act that discovers the legal principles relevant to a particular problem and it is the foundation for good legal advice.
Primary and Secondary Sources: Primary sources contain the actual law. Constitutions, court decisions, cases, statutes, treaties and administrative regulations are all examples of primary sources. Secondary sources are materials, which comment, explain and annotate on these primary sources.
Usually, they include treaties, legal periodical, articles, legal encyclopedias, annotations, law dictionaries, commentaries, continuing legal education publications, opinions of the Attorney General, Secretary of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and other agencies.
On the other hand, finding tools are reference publications, which are used to find out primary and secondary sources. They include digests, indexes to legal periodicals, and indexes to annotations, law dictionaries and citations.
1. Primary Sources: The following sources are considered as primary sources in the legal research by the legal professionals. • Constitutions, • Statutes, • Treaties, • Court decisions, and • Administrative regulations.
2. Secondary Sources: The following sources are the secondary sources used in the legal research by the legal professionals. • Treaties, • Commentaries, • Law review/Legal periodicals, • Articles, • Continuing legal education publications, • Law encyclopedia, • Annotations, and • Opinions of the Secretary of Justice.
Methods/ Techniques of legal research: In pursuing research for disclosing facts or proving a hypothesis true or false, various kinds of methods can be applied for the successful research. The following research methods collectively or individually can be applied for the successful research as the main methods.
1 Observation: Information can be received by observing, visiting and viewing the place, society, events or the things pertinent to the study or research. Observation can be taken as primary and reliable source of information. If a researcher is careful, he/she can get the points that may play the significant role in his research or study. Observation is a method that is common in the research of legal and social science. Observation should be guided by a specific research purpose, the information receive from the observation should be recorded and subjected to checks on the trail of reliability.
2 Questionnaires: In questionnaire method, a researcher develops a form containing such questions pertinent to his study. Generally, the researcher prepares yes/ No questions or short answer questions. In questionnaire method, researcher distributes such forms to the people to whom he/she deems appropriate. The people, to whom the questionnaires have been distributed, should answer that what they have known by filling out the form and return it to researcher.
3 Sampling: When the subject of research is vague, comprehensive and when each indicator cannot be taken by virtue of financial constraint, time and complexity, etc. then the researcher can randomly collect data/sample depending on the reason. This is called as sampling method. For instance, in a demographic research, part of population represent various groups can be taken into consideration. That is why, it is said that sample is a method that saves time and money.
4 Interviews: A researcher can receive information sought by him/her asking people concerned through interview. It is a direct method of receiving information. Interview can be generally held asking questions in face-to-face contact to the person or persons and sometimes through telephone conversation. This method is common in the research of legal and social science. In this method, the researcher has to use less skill and knowledge to receive information he/she had sought. Interview is known as an art of receiving pertinent information. In the opinion of P.V. Young, interview can be taken as a systematic method by which a person enters more or less imaginatively into the life of a stranger.