Explore the aims and essential tools of doctrinal research, empowering your quest for deep legal understanding and analytical proficiency.

Explore the aims and essential tools of doctrinal research, empowering your quest for deep legal understanding and analytical proficiency

Introduction: Importance of Legal Research

A researcher's case analysis usually starts in the first research stage, when they find the critical facts and legal problems that must be considered. It improves as they decide where, how, and what to look for during this analysis. When they find practical legal papers, they need to know what they mean and how they apply to their case. This study gives them important analytical information to help them make decisions about the rest of the case.

It is essential to do legal analysis well whether you are a lawyer, a paralegal, or a law student. This is where the method comes in handy. There are different ways to handle each case, so knowing what legal study method will work best for your client and your case is essential. Legal research comes in many types: descriptive, quantitative, qualitative, analytical, applied, conceptual, empirical, comparative, doctrinal, non-doctrinal, etc.

Doctrinal Research

According to Dr. S.R. Myneni, "doctrinal research" is any study that compares a legal proposition or proposition to current laws and court cases and uses reasoning. The word "doctrine," at the root of doctrinal research, means a basic rule or principle. In other words, the legal doctrine defines the rules and principles that guide the legal world. So, doctrinal legal research would involve learning more about legal principles and ideas from different sources, such as cases, precedents, laws, and more, to analyze them and come to reasonable conclusions.

Use of Doctrinal Research

"What is law?" is the central question that doctrinal study tries to answer. It is library-based research, meaning we look through law books, statutes, legislation, commentaries, and other legal documents to get clear answers to legal problems. "Secondary Sources" are what all of these sources are. As mentioned, this is theoretical research that doesn't require any experiments or work in the field.

In this case, we are checking to see if existing laws are still valid in light of how society is changing. It starts with one or more legal propositions as a starting point, and the whole study aims to prove or disprove those propositions. It only involves reading through different legal papers and other sources and then using rational interpretation and logical reasoning to come up with a complete answer to the question asked in the first place. Most of the time, doctrinal study (library-based) is the first step in any research project. Once this is done, we move on to other research methods. In this way, doctrinal study is well-known among students and professors.

Importance of Doctrinal Research

The focus is on looking at the legal theory, how it came to be, and how it is used. It's a well-known fact that this is just theoretical research. Finding a specific legal statement or legal analysis with more depth and logic can be easy research. If you want to see the "one right answer" to a legal question or problem, you can do research in a library. In other words, the point of this method is to ask specific questions to find particular pieces of information.

For example, A study could be used to find specific laws that monitor child abuse cases in a particular area. Each question will have a clear answer that can be quickly found and confirmed. These are the main points of doctrinal or library-based study. Legal issues are looked at as part of these steps to see if more study is needed.

A lot of background reading on a topic is usually done at this stage. This can be done from dictionaries, encyclopedias, primary textbooks, treatises, and journals with footnotes. These sites define terms that help the researcher understand and summarize the legal ideas in the area of law they are studying.

The Normative Characteristics of Doctrinal Research

The doctrinal research that deals with finding and developing legal doctrines and research for writing in textbooks and journals asking, "What is the law?" is normative. The nature of legal rules is normative because they tell us how to act as people. They only talk about how people work and don't try to explain, predict, or even understand it. The short answer is that doctrinal study is not about law. The internal cognitive method answers, "What is the law?" This is in line with the study's goals. This is why it is sometimes called research in the area of law.

Purpose and Tools of Doctrinal Research

One of the main goals of doctrinal study is to find solutions to legal issues that come up when making laws. For instance, if the government decides to make laws that cover all crimes against women, it might prompt some lawyers and experts in the field to study the law. They might have to look at all the rules that are already in place in this area, as well as past case law, precedents, foreign trends, legal commentaries, articles written by experts, dictionaries, encyclopedias, journals, treatises, textbooks, and other legal sources. Going through these data, they can answer all the questions about this legislation and pass complete legislation.

It can also be used for many other things, such as helping lawmakers make laws that make sense and work, coming up with new legal doctrines, assisting courts to make decisions that are fair and effective, helping lawyers understand the law and prepare their cases, helping students in school to build a foundation, and many more.

Setting up a proposition as the starting point is the first step in the methodology of doctrinal study. The goal could be to use a legal provision in question or a current law. The next step might be to look at why that law was made in the first place. For instance, Constituent Assembly Debates could give much information about a part of the Constitution.

After that, the law can be looked at in more depth. A plan of action needs to be chosen. It is possible to look into other classes. Different models must be examined to make accurate statements about the proposition set at the start, and then the effects and estimated effects must be weighed. But one has to be very careful about which sources they use.

It takes time and work to look for sources that you can trust and correct. Separating helpful information from useless information is vital because having too much of the latter could lead to results that are different from what they seem to be. The question asked at the start is crucial for this method's work. The first step toward practical study is to ask the right question. Thus, the right proposition and use of suitable sources to do an excellent doctrinal study.

Tools of Doctrinal Research

  • Legal Texts (statutes, regulations)
  • Case Law [Studying judicial decisions (case law)]
  • Legal Commentary (legal treatises, law review articles, and academic journals)
  • Annotated Codes (Annotated statutory codes contain the text of statutes)
  • Law Reviews and Journals (Academic journals and law reviews)
  • Treatises (Legal treatises)
  • Online Resources (Various online resources, blogs, and legal websites)

Methodology of Doctrinal Research

Doctrinal research is a way of doing research that examines and tries to make sense of legal papers like statutes, case law, regulations, and treaties to understand legal ideas, principles, and doctrines. There are several steps to the process of doctrinal research:

  • Identifying the research problem means stating the research question or concern and clarifying what the research is about.
  • Gathering legal sources: The next step is to gather legal sources that are useful, like laws, rules, court decisions, and legal sources.
  • Review of law sources: After gathering the legal sources, the researcher must check them to see if they are relevant, trustworthy, and credible.
  • Analysis of legal sources: Once the researcher has reviewed them, they must be analyzed to find legal ideas, principles, and reasons. Thus, all the gathered legal sources should be analyzed by the researcher.
  • Applying legal principles: Finally, the researcher has to combine all the legal sources and principles which had been analyzed to frame issues to decide the conclusion and suggestions.

Difference Between Doctrinal and Non-Doctrinal Research

Doctrinal study examines secondary sources like laws, case law, and legal commentary. On the other hand, non-doctrinal study looks at how law works in a social and cultural setting. It tries to figure out how people use, understand, and follow real-life examples and observations.


The research helps the researchers to analyze and observe things to conclude. Thus, legal research helps the researchers to observe society and find out the needs of the people in the society by looking at both the legal principles and the social setting in which they operate.


[1] Bhavna Sharma, Fundamentals of Legal Research And Legal Research Methodology, Edition: 2020

[2] Dr.S.R. Myneni, Legal Education & Research Methodology, Edition: 2023

[3] J. Mahalakshmi and P. Balamurugan, Legal Research Methodology, Edition: 2023

[4] Manoj Kumar Sinha and Deepa Kharb, Legal Research and Writing, Edition: 2023

[5] Prof. Tushar Kanti Saha, Textbook on Legal Methods, Legal System and Research, Edition: 2021

Vanshika Kapoor

Vanshika Kapoor

Vanshika Kapoor, a committed writer and adept researcher, acquired her BBA-LLB from Amity University Chhattisgarh, followed by her LLM from UPES Dehradun.

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