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Empirical Research Support

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To assist law faculty with empirical scholarship, the Law Library has hired an empirical research analyst with a Ph.D. to provide support. Among the services the consultant can provide are assistance with:

  • Data gathering: help in determining the best way to gather the data you need or pointing you to available data sets
  • Data analysis: utilize empirical research methodology and tools to verify statistical validity of data and "slice and dice" it to pull out relevant information
  • Survey creation & evaluation: assist with crafting surveys that will get to the heart of the questions you are trying to answer or evaluate existing surveys and responses
  • Research Assistant training: guide R.A.s in conducting empirical research for faculty projects

The empirical consultant will be available here at the Law School 10 hours a week. To request empirical assistance, please contact Nicole Downing by email ( or by phone at 919-843-7898 to arrange an appointment to discuss your project. Please provide the following information:

  1. A general description of the project
  2. The type of support you seek (e.g. data gathering, data analysis, etc)
  3. The time period you anticipate needing assistance - please note any relevant time constraints or deadlines for the project
  4. Any other information you think relevant

This service is provided in cooperation with Duke's Goodson Law Library.

The library has also provided a detailed set of resources that are available online for those interested in engaging in empirical legal scholarship.

Getting started with empirical legal research (ELS) at UNC

UNC Libraries maintains a number of tutorials, guides, and resource lists for conducting empirical research generally. These include:

  • Odum Institute at UNC provides assistance with specialized and general statistical models, as well as short and long courses on software and statistical methods.
  • Writing with Statistics is a useful guide, put together by UNC, on addressing pitfalls associated with using statistics in writing.
  • UNC Libraries GIS and Data Services provides spatial and numerical data. To facilitate the use of these collections, GIS/Data Services will provide classroom training, support online learning, and provide access to GIS computing.

ELS Research Support and Research Guides

Data Sources for Empirical Legal Scholarship

Several of the above guides have more comprehensive lists of ELS-relevant data sets. Below is a listing of some of the most commonly used ELS data sets in the areas of Courts, Crime & Justice, the Legislative Branch & Politics, Business and Economics, Demographic, and International data sets.


Crime & Justice

Legislative Branch and Politics

Business and Economics Data



Last updated 7/15/2014 (drh)

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