Methods Workshop on Quantitative Data & Web Data Collection for Legal Studies

October 25th to October 26th 2018

The iCourts-Centre of Excellence for International Courts and the PhD school at the Faculty of Law invite researches and students with an interest on legal empirical research to a course on

Quantitative Data & Web Data Collection for Legal Studies

The purpose of this course is to provide students with insight into the collection, management and analysis of textual web data for the implementation of quantitative research designs. Digitalization is having a transformative impact on many aspects of society including law and legal research. In this regard, the digitalization of law is generating an increasing amount of web information about the activity of legal actors (e.g. rulings, news, videos on hearing, etc.) accessible for research. The availability of big amounts of digitalized legal sources (or legal data) became paramount for research to the extent that legal and interdisciplinary research must work to ensure that tomorrow's researchers master the new tools of collection and data analysis to perform original studies that might contribute to the ongoing international and domestic debates about the role and impact of the law and courts in society. Moreover, law students and legal practitioners increasingly have to compete on a legal market in which big data and empirical methods have become increasingly prevalent.

The workshop is divided into two parts. The first part introduces the students to the current debates on the use of quantitative empirical data for legal research. The introduction will be followed by a training on R Statistical Programming Language for lawyers (no previous knowledge on R or statistics is required). The second part of this workshop will show how to extract and analyse information from judicial decisions and news on courts available on the web using automated methods in R. The participants will have the chance to run some of the exercises on their laptops with the use of the statistical software R (freely available).

The course will lay the basic theoretical and technical foundations and offer the analytical tools for students and researches to participate in more advanced quantitative courses on advanced data analysis.

Programme - Methods Workshop on Quantitative Data & Web Data Collection for Legal Studies (pdf)

Objectives of the course

After the course the student will be able to:

  • Identify and understand the structure of quantitative data.
  • Formulate codebook entries that prepare the collection and coding of data.
  • Use the R programming language and the programme RStudio independently in order to acquire additional skills for data storage, analysis and visualization
  • Understand basic tools to collect their own data gathered from court websites.
  • Apply an analytical approach to their material.
  • Be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their research method and material.

Julian Dederke is a PhD candidate in the European Politics Group at the Center for Comparative and International Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH since September 2016. He studied Political Science at the Free University of Berlin (B.A.) and European Studies at the University of Gothenburg (M.Sc.). Julian’s current work focuses on the field of judicial politics in the EU, reactions to decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU, and the interplay of politics and courts in general.


Registration is closed. However, if you would like to be on the waiting list for the course, please write an email to