2016: Fourth Annual Qualitative AND Mixed-Methods Workshop at AALS (January 9-10, 2016)Session Details
This workshop was held on Saturday, January 9, from 9:00 a.m..- 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday, January 10, from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m. THIS YEAR’S WORKSHOP FOLLOWS A DIFFERENT FORMAT THAN IN PREVIOUS YEARS, eliminating the fee for a box lunch and offering an opportunity for small-group feedback on individual research projects for those who register for and attend the workshop. Participants are not required to have any specific equipment or preparation.
LAW PROFESSORS CONDUCTING ON-GOING EMPIRICAL RESEARCH can register for the Sunday morning session only. This new feature was designed to allow researchers opportunities for targeted feedback on their projects. Priority was given to participants who attend the entire workshop. “Alums” of previous AALS empirical workshops are welcome.
This workshop provided an overview of how to approach and assess empirical research including (1) best practices for formulating research questions; (2) matching questions to methods and data; (3) IRBs and research ethics; (4) options for data analysis; (5) funding possibilities; (6) cross-disciplinary research collaborations; and (7) approaches to publishing empirical research. No background in social science was required. On the one hand, the workshop provides guidance for law professors interested in drawing on qualitative, survey research and/or experimental social science studies pertinent to their research on law. On the other hand, it was also designed to support law professors who seek to augment their scholarship by using empirical methods.
During the lunchtime session on Saturday (bring your own lunch) and on Sunday morning, participants will have an opportunity for small-group targeted discussions that permit more time for individualized feedback.
Saturday, January 9, from 9:00 a.m..- 5:00 p.m
Session I: Formulating Research Questions and Selecting Methods that Fit (9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.)
How do researchers formulate a specific question that is answerable empirically? How does one identify an appropriate method for answering any given particular research question? And how can we combine different kinds of methods for studying the law as it works in action? This session introduces a variety of research methods and evaluates their strengths and weaknesses for answering different kinds of research questions. The session will also compare approaches in terms of their assumptions, objectives, types of data collected, and use of theory. We will consider a wide range of empirical methods and issues including interviewing, survey design, focus groups, participant observation, language/text analysis, historical analysis, and when/how to combine methods – including quantitative and experimental approaches. We will also focus on the crucial role played by social science literature reviews in empirical project design.
Session II. Nuts-and-Bolts of Qualitative/Mixed Method Empirical Research (11 a.m.-12 p.m.)
During this session, speakers discuss how to go about selecting subjects or sites for studies; how to obtain access (including IRB issues); how to design and conduct interviews; how to assess the quality of data obtained from various sources; and how to “triangulate” with research that has already been done in designing, conducting, or using empirical work. We will also discuss cross-disciplinary collaborations in empirical legal research.
Bring-Your-Own-Lunch for Small-Group Discussions (tailored to participants’ questions)
Session III. Qualitative Research Analysis and Write-Up (1:30 pm-3:30 pm)
Once you’ve completed your data collection, what then? This session provides an overview of different forms of qualitative analysis, including software for analysis of text. It also covers issues involved in analyzing and presenting qualitative data, and how to draw on multiple studies to “triangulate” findings during the analysis and write-up phase.
Session IV. Wrap-Up, Audience Questions and Discussion (3:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m.)
We begin this session by wrapping up the earlier sessions. We will then have an interactive session in which participants can ask questions related to topics covered in the workshop or to their own research interests and agendas.
Sunday, January 10 (9:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m.)
Session V. Follow-up and Small-Group Feedback
This session follows up on any final questions from the previous day’s proceedings. We will then break into small groups focusing on specific areas and topics, based on information from participants’ comments the previous day and their areas of interest as submitted prior to the workshop.
Bryant Garth, University of California-Irvine Law School
Ajay K. Mehrotra, American Bar Foundation
Elizabeth E. Mertz, University of Wisconsin Law School & American Bar Foundation
Robert Nelson, Northwestern University & American Bar Foundation
L. Song Richardson, University of California-Irvine Law School
Matthew Shaw, American Bar Foundation
Carole Silver, Northwestern University School of Law
Joyce S. Sterling, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Riaz Tejani, Legal Studies, University of Illinois
Tom Tyler, New York University School of Law