This monograph explores the special considerations in coding text when the relevant legal materials are judicial decisions. The content of case law merits careful study not simply because judicial opinions reflect or respond to the law, but because they are the law. But, more than this, judicial opinions are detailed repositories that show what kinds of disputes come before courts, how the parties frame their disputes, and how judges reason to their conclusions.
IDENTIFYING AND MEASURING LEGAL VARIABLES
The starting point for a public health law research study is the careful and credible measurement of law itself. The resources in this section discuss how to conduct legal research and the coding of statutes, regulations and cases in a transparent and reproducible manner.
Given the multidisciplinary perspectives of Public Health Law Research (PHLR) and the wide range of topics included in PHLR, the use of commonly-understood pictures to illustrate the ways in which law and health interact can be invaluable (Burris et al., 2010). Ranging from laws that prohibit individual behaviors, to laws that provide authority to act, to laws that regulate organizational practices, PHLR seeks to understand the mechanisms by which laws can improve health; visualizing these mechanisms in diagrams is an important tool for achieving such an understanding.
In "Measuring Statutory Law and Regulations for Empirical Research," Evan Anderson, Charles Tremper, Sue Thomas and Alexander C. Wagenaar provide researchers with a practical how-to guide in applying the scientific method to measure the law for quantitative research.