The article explores the significance of non-doctrinal legal research in enriching our comprehension of the law's societal function and impact on policymaking.

The article explores the significance of non-doctrinal legal research in enriching our comprehension of the law's societal function and impact on policymaking.


The process of researching involves a basic task, which is to find answers to questions that arise to assist in resolving issues in a particular field. The literature that research produces is often used by policymakers, scientists and professionals of several other fields to put to use the theories, postulations and ideas that have been carefully crafted by referring to several sources which can be both primary and secondary.

Research can thus also be termed as a ‘thorough and systematic investigation’ which seeks to deduce something valuable. The methods used for research primarily can be classified into doctrinal and non-doctrinal research. In this article, we shall be discussing non-doctrinal research in depth to understand its aims and the tools it uses for constructing meaningful solutions and literature.

Non-Doctrinal Research

The method of research which involves techniques that have been taken from other socio-legal disciplines to generate empirical data is called non-doctrinal research. The research questions in non-doctrinal research are answered by decoding the nuances of the juxtaposition of law and society. It can thus be understood that non-doctrinal research is a sort of multi-disciplinary research that helps in preparing comprehensive literature on law which relates to other disciplines as well. The same is used for the formulation of policy or reform or solving any problems relating to the public policy domain.

There are further various categories and sub-categories in which non-doctrinal research can be divided which are qualitative, quantitative, dogmatic etc. can be used in a project that is being conducted at a large scale and requires solutions from different perspectives and disciplines. It is imperative to note the interplay between law and other disciplines under this type of research that assists that researcher in drafting the law.

The laws that are drafted by this method of research often turn out to be multipronged as they have taken into consideration several factors stemming from different fields and disciplines. Thus, this method is all about how law practically works in society.

Aims of Non-Doctrinal Research

The non-doctrinal method of conducting research is often put to use to decipher how a particular legal action or law is impacting society at large. It is crucial to examine the impact of a law’s implementation to examine its validity and relevance. Apart from that, the role played by non-legal actors in the implementation of these laws is also analysed with the help of this type of research. This can be understood with a hypothetical situation wherein, for instance, a very comprehensive law was brought in an environment that was vulnerable and couldn’t thereby absorb the purpose behind the said law. In such a situation, even if the law is perfect and required in society, its targeted impact would not seep through to the public.

However, if the environment would have been different then the same law would have led to revolutionary impacts and changes in the society. This shows how it becomes important to conduct thorough research from the perspective of various disciplines, even if the research is to prepare a law. It is also a widely accepted fact that when data is presented in a quantifiable manner, it becomes easier to study, analyse and examine it.

Moreover, the authenticity can also be verified more precisely. Non-doctrinal research, since depends majorly on primary sources, further guarantees a greater amount of reliability.

Let us briefly look at the aims that the non-doctrinal method of research seeks to achieve:

  1. To identify issues or loopholes existing either in the society at large or in the literature per se, relating to law and its socio-legal aspect to decipher solutions that cater to all the facets of the said issue or challenge that is being faced.
  2. To make use of primary data since it is also an empirical form of research to assess the said issue and create relevant literature for further research.
  3. To study the real-world impacts and effects of legal processes and key institutions which form a part of such processes.
  4. To assess the viability and other consequences of legal decisions in terms of values, gains and impact.
  5. To examine the impact of non-legal factors or acts on legal decisions and society in general.
  6. To accumulate and assess the magnitude of the variable factors which have the effect of influencing the impact and outcome of legal decision-making.
  7. To identify the correlation, if there exists any, between legal and non-legal factual scenarios.
  8. To make use of an interdisciplinary approach to find a holistic solution to the issues or problems at hand.
  9. To study in depth the impact of legal principles, decisions, and laws on events which might entail the political, social, economic, technological and cyber world.
  10. To assist in drafting laws from a perspective that takes into consideration various factors from various fields such as social, political, technological etc.

Tools of Non-Doctrinal Research

Before delving into the concept of ‘tools used in non-doctrinal research’, let us briefly discuss the meaning and importance of research tools to better understand the concept. Research tools are the instruments that help in collecting information which is to be further used to assess the performance, or search for the answers to the questions posed by the research that are sought to be answered. Suh tools can also be understood as certain testing devices that help in drawing out certain conclusions post a thorough evaluation.

For instance: questionnaires, observations, interviews etc. Now, depending on the type of research and other coinciding factors, the researcher can decide which research tools he or she wishes to put to use to be able to find concrete, elaborate and precise answers that they are seeking to achieve. The importance of such research tools is that if the right tool is used, then it helps in achieving quality evidence which further assists in a more credible analysis.

Considering that research tools are rather the instruments that help in collecting data that shall then be used in the research further to prove or disprove the hypothesis, let us now delve into some of the research tools of data collection that are used primarily in non-doctrinal or empirical type of research.

1. Ethnographic Study

Ethnographic study or ethnography is a type of research tool which is qualitative and is used majorly in social and behavioural science-related research where their interplay is to be checked with other disciplines, for instance, law. Observation under ethnography assists the researcher in himself/ herself observing minute details about the surroundings which may not be received by him if relying on other sources of information. For instance, if a researcher has to understand the ESG practices that businesses adhere to, he can join a business and shadow the individuals working there and involved in ESG processes to learn about them.

2. Case Study

This method of ‘case study’ is a form of qualitative analysis which encompasses a careful and elaborate observation of either an individual, institution or a specific situation. It takes into notice certain efforts to analyse all the minute details of the said unit to then construct case data generalisations and further draw inferences.

3. Focussed Group Discussion (FGD)

Focussed Group Discussion or FGD is another form of qualitative data collection whereby a selected group of people discuss a given situation, event or topic in detail. This discussion takes place in a controlled environment in the presence of either a professional or an external moderator.

4. Questionnaire

The method of data collection which comprises an elaborate list of questions which are used for gathering data from the said participants regarding their attitudes, experiences, opinions or even experiences, is known as the ‘questionnaire method’ of data collection. This type of data collection method is used in research entailing social, market, legal, and health-related issues.

5. Content Analysis

The method of content analysis is a research tool that is used for determining the presence of specified words or concepts and themes within certain qualitative data that has been collected. Researchers often use this tool to quantify and analyse the meaning and presence of relationships of a specified list of words, concepts or even themes.


The above article assisted us in understanding what a non-doctrinal type of research aims to achieve and what tools it uses or adheres to to seek those objectives. We could infer that non-doctrinal research uses major primary sources of collecting data and can thereby also be referred to as the empirical form of research. Non-doctrinal research is a socio-legal type of research method that takes into its purview a multi-disciplinary approach that assists in drawing conclusions that are holistic and comprehensive.


[1] Adv. Hemant More, Doctrinal and Non-Doctrinal Research, Available Here

[2] P. Ishwara Bhat, Tools of Data Collection in Empirical or Non-doctrinal Legal Research, Available Here

[3] Legal Research of Doctrinal and Non-Doctrinal, Available Here

[4] Neha Dahiya, All about Doctrinal and Non-Doctrinal Research, Available Here

[5] Dr. Priya Sepaha, Doctrinal and Non-Doctrinal Research, Available Here

Snehil Sharma

Snehil Sharma

Snehil Sharma is an advocate with an LL.M specializing in Business Law. He is a legal research aficionado and is actively indulged in legal content creation. His forte is researching on contemporary legal issues.

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