Research Handbook on Law and Courts
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Research Handbook on Law and Courts

Edited by Susan M. Sterett and Lee D. Walker

The Research Handbook on Law and Courts provides a systematic analysis of new work on courts as governing institutions. Authors consider how courts have taken on regulating fundamental categories of inclusion and exclusion, including citizenship rights. Courts’ centrality to governance is addressed in sections on judicial processes, sub-national courts, and political accountability, all analyzed in multiple legal/political systems. Other chapters turn to analyzing the worldwide push for diversity in staffing courts. Finally, the digitization of records changes both court processes and studying courts. Authors included in the Handbook discuss theoretical, empirical and methodological approaches to studying courts as governing institutions. They also identify promising areas of future research.
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Chapter 31: “Text as data” in law and courts: data coding, language clarity, and data sharing

Justin Wedeking


This chapter explores what treating “text as data” has to offer legal scholarship. It begins by highlighting the challenges of human coding and proposes how a computerized approach offers new insights. It does so by offering examples from the literature. It then shifts to focus on the tensions created by computer text analysis. Specifically, it discusses data coding issues created by computers, with a specific emphasis on concept measurement. It explains the basic model that text as data researchers commonly use and the known challenges with it. From there, the chapter examines the challenge of losing the clarity or meaning of text when treating text as data, and identifies the tensions with sharing data for text as data scholars. It identifies some new directions that researchers are pursuing in these areas, and the challenges they will have to overcome.

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