Objectivity and Omissions? The current batch of legal research texts reviewed

Hutchinson, Terry C. & Fong, Colin S. (1999) Objectivity and Omissions? The current batch of legal research texts reviewed. In STRAIT to the future 8th Asia-Pacific Specials, Health and Law Librarians Conference, 1999, Hobart Tasmania.


Legal research should be taught as a process. Very few academics or law librarians would argue with that statement since the debates raged in the United States in the late 80's.[1] However, have the legal research texts that we use to teach our law students kept up with the current ideology? Indeed, what is the current legal research teaching ideology in Australia? Simplistically, it could be said that legal research courses in Australian law schools are predominantly research skills based. In the US, the pendulum has swung the other way, and the courses tend to be legal writing based.[2] Some Australian law schools have championed legal reasoning as a means of acknowledging the depth of process in the equation. But what of legal writing? Isn't this the lawyer's ultimate goal - the closure, the end of the research process? Law librarians can sometimes stop at the 'information located and supplied' stage. Lawyers (and law students) need to be able to actively read the materials, link and extrapolate, analogise and deduce and then they have to communicate it to someone else. Often, they have to write their conclusions down in an assignment, a memo, a letter - or an exam.

This is but one view. However, in reviewing the existing legal research texts, we are necessarily approaching the task with personal views about research skills training. We are also approaching the task with our own world views. This viewpoint encompasses a healthy critique of the whole 'objective' process of the law, and doctrinal methodology as the 'only' way of doing things. The current batch of texts seems to proceed totally within a doctrinal framework. We need to acknowledge that framework, while not necessarily agreeing with it. Working within that framework, and taking into account accepted criteria, we can offer various perspectives on the current range of excellent texts available.

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ID Code: 7264
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Additional Information: For more information, please contact the author: t.hutchinson@qut.edu.au
Additional URLs:
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1999 the authors.
Deposited On: 01 May 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:40

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