■ About us
■ Overview
■ About the project
What is Empirical Legal Studies
Empirical Legal Studies in Taiwan
Types od Data and Databases
The Importance of Empirical Databases

Empirical Legal Studies (ELS, or Empirical Legal Research) aims to explain legal phenomena sociologically by conducting empirical research on them.  It encompasses various methods of positive research, and concretizes abstract law in social context.  While ELS has importance for academic research, legislating and policymaking, and the judicial process, it has yet to receive due attention in the Taiwanese legal academy.[1]

Traditionally, legal research in Taiwan has been dominated by Rechtsdogmatik, and either excluded consideration of the practice of law and social reality from the study of law, or marginalized them therein.  There has been a failure to compare and reflect upon the relationship between legal norms and law in practice.  The neglect of an ELS approach also owes in part to a shortage of readily accessible empirical materials.  Limited access to government statistics and databases, other problems with freedom of information, and the denial of access to primary data have all hampered ELS research.  For these and other reasons, the present stage demands the establishment of comprehensive, scholarly databases in order to actively promote ELS.

In 2006, with funding from the National Science Council, National Taiwan University College of Law Professor Yen Chueh-An and Assistant Professor Chen Chao-Ju, unveiled plans for the construction of the Taiwan Database for Empirical Legal Studies (TaDELS), a project intended primarily to facilitate academic research.  With the continual development of its databases as its primary mission, the project seeks to promote the freedom of information, serve a public interest function, provide unique data and facilitate the internationalization of research.

The project logo was inspired by the Taiwanese New Literature Movement master Lai He’s The Steelyard (一桿稱仔).  The novel’s protagonist Chin Te-tsan (秦得參)[2] is persecuted by Japanese colonial officers for violating a regulation standardizing weights and measures.  His experience highlights the contempt the powerful may harbor for law, and the consequent suffering of the powerless.  A steelyard is a kind of balance with arms of different length once ubiquitous in marketplaces throughout Taiwan and the Chinese-speaking world.  Thus, the project logo both recalls the way in which Justitia’s scale symbolizes equality and equity in the Western tradition, while at the same time provoking reflection on the history of law and legal consciousness in Taiwan.

[1]In Taiwanese academia, the word "empirical," in the philosophical sense, is often translated as "經驗的." Therefore, it would perhaps be best to render "Empirical Legal Studies" as "法經驗研究," but since social scientists in Taiwan are accustomed to the terms "實證資料" (empirical data) and "實證研究" (empirical research), we follows common practice and use the term "法實證研究." [2]Meaning "really miserable/wretched" 「真的慘、真悽慘」 when pronounced in Taiwanese
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