The hypocritical hype about 'hypothesis': Why legal research needs to shed this relic

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Svantesson, D. (2014). The hypocritical hype about 'hypothesis': Why legal research needs to shed this relic. Alternative Law Journal, 39(4), 259-262.

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© Copyright, The Author, 2014

2014 HERDC submission.




Extract: There is no question a PhD cabdidate fears more than the unavoidable classic: 'So what is your hypothesis?" One reason this question sends shivers down the spine of PhD candidates — often some of our brightest people — is that it demands of them a summary of their work in a sentence, or a few sentences. This is a task that can hardly be carried out unless one knows one's topic inside out. However, for PhD candidates in the field of law, I suspect there is also another reason why questions about their hypothesis are uncomfortable — the very idea of a hypothesis is a poor fit for most forms of legal research. In this article, I will (I) examine the standard position on the role of the hypothesis taken in legal research method literature: (2) demonstrate why the hypothesis concept is a poor fit for legal research; (3) present a few speculations as to why legal scholars nevertheless insist on placing the hypothesis on the proverbial pedestal; and finally (4) propose an alternative that better suits legal research in general.

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