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Empirical Legal Research: Data Sets and Other Sources for Statistical Information

Free - Data Resources

Increasingly, journals publishing empirical research require that data used in articles be sent to the journal. This ensures that the data utilized by the article authors is accessible to other researchers who wish to use existing data to replicate tests or for additional statistical testing. Contacting the journal in which a particular article appears may allow researcher to access data sets without cost. Some scholars who publish in journals may also make the data that they use in their research publicly available.   

Institutional/Organizational Data Resource for the Social Sciences

Judicial and Court Related Data Resources

PACER

Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information from federal appellate, district and bankruptcy courts. PACER, provided by the federal Judiciary, is intended to provide public access to court information. 

While PACER has significant research potential, there has been much criticism of the lack of centralization of information via PACER as well as the access is not free. Improvements to PACER are currently being explored. Additionally, as indicated below, exemptions for particular types of research may be granted.

"Consistent with Judicial Conference policy, courts may, upon a showing of cause, exempt indigents, bankruptcy case trustees, individual researchers associated with educational institutions, courts, section 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations, court appointed pro bono attorneys, and pro bono ADR neutrals from payment of these fees. Courts must find that parties from the classes of persons or entities listed above seeking exemption have demonstrated that an exemption is necessary in order to avoid unreasonable burdens and to promote public access to information." http://www.pacer.gov/documents/epa_feesched.pdf  

Despite the provision for waiver, because the discretion is placed in local courts, there is not a central system for requesting waiver.  As a result, in some instances of research extending across jurisdictions, researcher may receive a waiver from one court but be denied waiver for similar research involving another jurisdiction. 

 

 

Public Opinion

Gallup is perhaps the best known source of public opinion polling. A Gallup passport provides access to most Gallup Web sites using a single user name and password. Gallup Brain is a searchable database of Gallup public opinion polls and articles about those polls.  Gallup Brain is a licensed product and is currently not accessible via OCU Law Library. However, the most recent Gallup reports based on analysis of opinion data are accessible at no cost at:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/116431/Research-Reports.aspx 

The Pew Research Center also provides access to information regarding public opinion research. Click here to access the Pew Research Center Data Downloads site. Additionally the Pew Center provides information regarding recent surveys of public opinion in the U.S and other countries and analysis employing the data collected. The entries below represent a feed from the Pew Center linking to information about these surveys and reports.  

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International Data Sources

U.S. Government Held Statistics and Demographic Data

Oklahoma Statistical Sources

Court and Case Information - As pointed out in a post to The Gavel, the blog of the Law Library, two older case management systems, the Oklahoma Court Information System (OCIS) and the KellPro System, are currently used in Oklahoma. Due, in part, to the limitations of these systems, it is often difficult to access case information. Links to OCIS searching and Non-OCIS searching is available via the Oklahoma State Court Network (OSCN). 

On the Horizon: Oklahoma’s Unified Case Management System Connecting Oklahoma Courts, an Oklahoma Bar Journal article by Chief Justice James Edmondson, discusses the selection and development of a new unified case management system that will supply greater access. 

Oklahoma Resources Integration General Information Network System (Origins) is an online database which contains Oklahoma economic, social, and demographic data.

800 N. Harvey Oklahoma City, OK 73102 405.208.5271