Research entails systematic investigation with an aim of establishing facts or collecting specific information. Researchers use varied research methods based on the nature of the research, availability of resources, and time. Research objectives act as the guideline throughout the research. The method of data or information collection used determines the credibility of the study.
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For any research to succeed, researchers ought to adhere to research ethics. In a bid to identify the contribution of public opinion in sentencing people found guilty of murder, Mitchell and Roberts carried out a research in England and Wales. This paper aims at critically analysing this research based on its objectives, research methods, and conclusions to determine its credibility.
For decades, there has been a supposition that people would not accept any other form of sentencing passed against a person charged for murder apart from life imprisonment in England and Wales. Failure to pass this judgment would lead to the public having no trust in their judicial system.
This supposition prompted Mitchell and Roberts to carryout a research in a bid to determine the public’s opinion towards the different alternative sentencing that might be passed against people found guilty of murder. During the research, the two aimed at understanding the level of public knowledge with respect to statistics associated to murder like average period the culprit spends in prison and murder trends.
In addition, they intended to assess the level of public support for life imprisonment. Furthermore, the two aimed at analysing the link between understanding of the crime and retribution of murder and mind-sets to sentencing criminals indicted of murder.
In a bid to come up with comprehensive conclusions, the pollsters used both qualitative and quantitative research methods. They conducted a survey on the public to determine its opinion towards life imprisonment and identified some focus groups that responded to a number of questions. The quantitative research involved 1,027 participants who went through face-to-face interviews.
The interviews took place in the participants’ homes. On the other hand, the qualitative research involved discussions undertaken by the different focus groups. Each group was given a case scenario involving a murder incidence and it was asked to discuss what it felt would be the most appropriate sentence to pass against the perpetrator.
In spite of the two research methods helping the pollsters in obtaining the public opinion towards life imprisonment, the methods had some flaws. For instance, the issue of life imprisonment is a weighty matter that would require much time to discuss. Nevertheless, the quantitative research required that the respondents take 30 minutes only to respond to a number of questions.
This aspect did not give them time to prepare well and think about a question before responding. The face-to-face interviews are prone to biasness. During the interview, the interviewer gives advice to the interviewee thus not giving the interviewee the freedom to make his or her judgments.
In this form of research, the interviewer might have had a significant impact on the response given by the participants as he or she tried to advise the interviewee. Due to time constraint and high number of participants involved in the research, the research was vulnerable to counselling where the pollsters made summaries of the responses the participants gave without giving them time to explain themselves.
For instance, the pollsters made numerous assumptions during the study. After finding that 50 per cent of the respondents had similar opinions, the pollsters concluded that the fraction of the general population that shared similar opinions fall between 46.9 and 53.1 per cent. This assumption might influence the outcome either positively or negatively affecting the credibility of the findings.
Studies have proved that brainstorming does not facilitate in generation of more ideas. In this context, the researcher intended to collect personal opinion about life imprisonment. Hence, every person was required to give his line of thought regarding the issue. Involving the participants in a discussion would greatly influence their opinions.
Some of the participants would influence others thus tending to fall on the side that has massive support and not giving their opinion. In other words, inclusion of discussion in the research would lead to some of the participants thus not sharing their ideas in fear that they might differ with others.
Conclusions made from the study
From the study, the pollsters came up with numerous conclusions. Firstly, they intended to identify if the rates of homicides and murders in both England and Wales were going down or increasing. From the findings, they concluded that the rate had substantially gone down. In addition, the researchers compared the murder rate in the two countries with other countries.
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They concluded that the there were no disparities between the murder rate in England and Wales relative to other countries. The researchers realised that the public had limited knowledge about punishment of murder perpetrators.
Hence, they tend to have the opinion that courts are in most cases lenient to such offenders. From the response, the researchers concluded that lack of knowledge in murder sentencing leads to the public believing that the offenders spend limited time in prison.
The pollsters also concluded that in spite of people calling for life imprisonment when presented with a general case of murder, most of them would prefer natural life sentence when presented with actual cases. The researchers concluded that individuals that found the courts to be lenient were highly punitive. They associated the misperception about murder inclinations with stern recommended sentencing.
In general the pollsters concluded that the courts ought not to use public opinion in coming up with their sentences in case of murder.
In spite of the proponents of life imprisonment claiming that the sentence is right based on the public support, the pollsters found out that the public is never opposed to other forms of sentencing. Hence, public opinion ought not to be the excuse why judges cling to life imprisonment when it comes to cases involving murder.
All the conclusions made tend not to be in line with the opinions given by the respondents. Most of the participants had no information regarding murder sentencing in England and Wales as well as in other countries. Besides, they had the perception that murder is a serious crime and did not take time to consider the circumstances that might have led to one committing the crime.
With this knowledge, it would have been wrong to go with the opinion given by the public without having clear information of the situation on the ground. The conclusions made by the pollsters are justified. In spite of conducting a research and gathering public opinion about life imprisonment, the pollsters went a step further to understand the actual situation in the country as well as the public knowledge about murder.
Using this information together with the available statistics on murder cases, the researchers came up with accurate conclusions, therefore avoiding chances of being biased or buying all the opinions shared by the public.
‘Political’ nature of social research
Scholars view social research as political in two perspectives. One of the perspectives entails social research as power. Politics is attributed to power. Hence, a situation where social research entails finding the truth, it may be said to be political. There are arguments that superior interests in the society in most cases influence social research thus making it political.
Many people that claim that research may be apolitical claim that all forms of power in the contemporary society are domineering. Hence, they assess research based on its autonomy from the external power or based on the power exhibited by the researchers or the research institutions. There is a claim that research institutions are never autonomous thus making the research political.
Researchers do not make independent decisions in the areas to cover in their studies as well as the participants to include in the study. They have to engage in an intense negotiation with various stakeholders. Hence, their activities suffer from external influence thus rendering the research political.
The other perspective that makes social research appears political focuses on how value judgments are deduced from a research process. In this case, the political nature of research is distinguished with avers regarding its value freedom or value neutrality. This perspective presents numerous dimensions through which research may be considered political.
One of the dimensions is that for any research to be possible, it has to meet various economic, social, and political conditions. Moreover, research may require some resources from the nation. Hence, to extend these resources to a research, it would call for a value choice. The value judgment is in most cases politically influenced leading to the research becoming political.
Today, social research is based on intellectual presuppositions. In the past, the social research findings came from conclusions made from indisputable evidence through inescapable logic. Nevertheless, most of the current research findings are based on assumptions, which are in most cases politically motivated.
In most cases, the researchers’ claim to knowledge dwells on presuppositions that have not been verified fully. Most of the research findings are not universal thus making the research political. In other words, most of the research findings are contestable, therefore, posing doubt.
Mitchell and Roberts’ research is political on the dimension of power exercise. The researchers were not autonomous in their research. To carryout the research, they involved numerous participants whom they had to negotiate with before administering their interviews.
They had to comply with various demands from the participants like time constraints and this element affected their independence in conducting the interviews. Besides, they had to ensure that they include questions that do not infringe into the participant’s freedom and privacy even though such questions would facilitate in understanding the subject matter better.
Besides, the influence from the participants, the pollsters also made their conclusions based on the information they gathered from the available statistics, which shows that there was a significant influence from the available information. It implies that the already published information about life imprisonment had significant authority over this research. The existing data influenced some of the research’s deductions.
Importance of research ethics
There are numerous benefits of conducting a research ethically. One of the aims of research ethics is that it helps in ensuring the security of the participants. At times, a research may involve sensitive information that might lead to the participants facing discrimination from their leaders. In such a case, research ethics would help in protecting such participants.
No one would agree to participate in a sensitive research if he or she learns that the research has not put measures to protect their privacy. Besides, the researcher may pretend to protect the participants but later reveal them. Research ethics facilitates in ensuring that researchers honour their part of bargain thus ensuring that the senior employees do not use the information given by the participants against them.
The success of any research depends of the level of ethics exercised by the researcher. Failure to observe ethics during the research may lead to one facing embarrassment or being expelled by the research community. In addition, the participants may opt to offer wrong information due to frustrations from the researcher.
In such a case, the pollster may end up coming up with wrong information thus misleading the persons intended to use the research’s findings. The credibility of any research depends on the degree of ethics exercised by the researcher. Ethics acts as the first step of establishing a rapport between the researcher and the research participants.
If the research participants learn that the researcher is ethical, they tend to trust in him or her thus being ready to share with him or her all the information they have. On the other hand, the participants may refrain from sharing crucial information with the researcher on realising that the researcher is unethical.
Research ethics is one of the fundamental requirements in most of the professionals. Failure to observe ethics during a research may lead to the person facing disciplinary actions or being expelled from the research community. Observing research ethics helps the researchers in boosting the credibility of their findings. Consequently, their research is allowed for publication.
Most of the researches take time and many resources. Hence, failure to observe research ethics may lead to the research community failing to publish the research. Such a move would lead to the researcher wasting a lot of resources and time.
Besides averting the disciplinary action, research ethics facilitates in acquiring financial support for the study from different sponsors. No one would agree to fund a research that is conducted unethically. Hence, to obtain fund, researchers ought to show a high degree of ethics in their undertakings.
Numerous ethical issues could emerge from this study. Among the issue include, harm on the participants, ethical ramifications, Privacy concerns, and deception. The research involved direct contact with the participants. Moreover, it entailed a weighty matter that required to be handled with care. Failure to handle the research ethically would lead to the participants suffering psychologically.
The study involved collecting information regarding life imprisonment. Some of the information collected attempted to determine the fairness of the sentencing based on the circumstances under which the perpetrator conducted the crime. If the study were not carried out ethically, both the perpetrators and individuals affected by the crime in one way or the other would end up suffering psychologically.
For instance, the study might conclude that a certain circumstance did not require an individual to face life imprisonment. In such an instance, the perpetrator would end up suffering psychologically. On the other hand, if people whose relative was the victim of the crime learnt that the court was lenient in sentencing the perpetrator, they might suffer psychologically or even end up taking the law into their hands.
Another privacy issue that might arise from the study regards the privacy of the participants. The issue of life imprisonment is serious and may trigger some anger among the people that have ever been affected by the crime in one way or another. In responding to the interview questions, some respondents might end up expressing their frustration by using words that might be of contempt to the court or to other parties.
In such a case, the participant might end up facing charges by the mere fact of participating in a research. It is imperative that all the information relied by the participants is made private and accessed only by the relevant people.
In a bid to avoid chances of the participants suffering psychologically, it would be imperative to the researchers to avoid coming up with conclusions that might lead to the parties feeling to be short-changed by the court’s judgment.
On the other hand, the researchers ought to ensure that every participant is secured against any form of discrimination, which could be achieved by not including the name of the respondent and making sure that only authorised personnel have access to the information given by the participants.
The objective of Mitchell and Roberts’ research was to determine the role the public opinion plays in influencing the judgment passed against people found guilty of murder. They intended to do away with the belief that people prefer life imprisonment to other forms of charges against perpetrators of murder.
From the research, the two found that most of those that preferred life imprisonment had limited knowledge about the judicial system and did not consider the circumstances that led to one committing the crime.
Mitchell and Roberts concluded that there was a need to educate the public about the judicial system. Moreover, they claimed that law enforcers ought to have a clear understanding of the public opinion and not act out of assumptions.
Practitioners’ Views on Children’s Welfare in Relocation Disputes
Different countries use different approaches to deal with relocation disputes. While some countries support relocation, others are strongly against it. George carried out a study to compare the relocation laws in England and New Zealand. From his study, he learnt that while England allowed for relocation, New Zealand made it hard for individuals to acquire relocation rights.
This article intends to evaluate the research conducted by George. This paper will explain the purpose of conducting a comparative study. It will then describe why George opted to conduct a comparative study in his research.
In addition, the paper will explain the difference between ‘presumption of similarity’ and ‘presumption of difference’ and suggest the position of the author. In the end, the paper will evaluate the choice of jurisdictions made by the author and explain the extent on descriptive legal scholarship that the paper embodies.
Purpose of comparative legal research
Initially, there were two purposes of conducting a comparative legal research. One of the purposes was to use foreign laws in establishing local laws. The other purpose was to make a comparison between different laws to have a better understanding of the law for the purpose of theoretical or academic comparative jurisprudence.
At the beginning of the 21st century, another purpose of conducting a comparative legal research was established. The desire to apply the laws in personal circumstances necessitated the current purpose of conducting comparative legal research. This desire is termed as judicative comparative law.
The judicative comparative law is applied mostly in European countries when a judge intends to make a judgment on violations committed in a foreign nation using the laws of the country where the hearings is taking place. At times, an individual may commit a crime in one country and move to another in a bid to avoid an arrest.
In such an instance, if the person is identified as a criminal in the foreign country, the law enforcers from the foreign country may arrest and charge the individual. The objective of conducting a comparative legal study would facilitates in establishing the right sentence to pass against such a criminal based on the laws of the country where the crime was committed.
Comparative legal research may facilitate in determining the punishment to pass against a criminal. For instance, different countries have different charges against incest. Having knowledge in foreign laws would ensure that an individual who committed incest in a foreign land gets the right sentence based on the law requirements of the land.
Law develops through borrowing different ideas from different countries or institutions. The purpose of conducting a comparative legal research is to facilitate in strengthening the laws of a particular nation. A decade ago, Germany did not have a mechanism to deal with liberal crime. She had to borrow the mechanisms from France and Britain.
Over the years, Germany has conducted intense comparative legal research and borrowed numerous laws from other countries therefore reinforcing its local laws. Besides reinforcing the local laws, comparative legal research may facilitate in coming up with a common model code.
Countries from the same region may opt to establish common laws to govern the region. In a bid to achieve this goal, they would require conducting a comparative legal research of their different laws and harmonise them to come up with a common law.
Different countries have different laws that deal with relocation disputes. While some of the laws support relocation, some are against it while others are neutral. The main reason why George conducted this comparative legal research was to understand the distinction between the existing laws that address relocation disputes in England and New Zealand.
While laws in England support relocation, the laws in New Zealand are against it. Hence, to clearly compare the laws in the two countries and understand their distinction, George opted to use law practitioners from the two countries.
The research significantly helped George to understand the legal systems of the two countries. Comparing the relocation laws in the two countries helped him understand the existing legal procedures that facilitate in solving the relocation disputes.
Presumption of similarity
In most cases, courts face the challenges of dealing with litigations emanating from crimes that took place in foreign lands. At such an instance, courts are required to determine the jurisprudence of the country where the crime took place and not consider the common laws of the countries involved.
Considering the jurisprudence of the country where the crime was committed facilitates in ensuring that both the perpetrator and the victim receive fair judgment. When passing judgment against a case committed in a foreign country, judges might make two presumptions. These presumptions are the presumption of similarity and the presumption of differences.
The presumption of similarity occurs where the judge makes a judgment against a crime committed in a foreign land based on local laws. In such an instance, the attorney assumes that the involved countries use similar laws. Hence, by using the local laws, the perpetrator would receive a punishment similar to the one the country where the crime was committed could have awarded.
Certain countries are governed by a system of law established from civil laws. Such countries share common laws in almost everything. Hence, if a crime is committed in one country and heard in a different country, the attorney may use the presumption of similarity to make his or her judgment.
Presumption of difference
At the centre of all conflict theories lies the conviction that the sole purpose of law is to ensure that all parties involved in a conflict get a fair hearing and judgment, particularly in cases involving parties from foreign countries. This aspect does not imply that judges have to use foreign laws in making their judgment but they require putting into consideration the provisions given by such laws to come up with appropriate judgments.
With this knowledge in mind, it becomes hard to establish the role of foreign laws in addressing disputes that involve foreign elements. In countries sharing universal laws, the judges can make their judgment based on the local laws. However, a problem arises where countries involved in a crime do not share common laws. In such a case, the attorney has to use the presumption of difference when making his or her judgment.
The presumption of difference occurs where an attorney feels that the parties involved in the dispute do not share common laws. Therefore, the attorney has to refer to the laws of the individual countries involved in the crime before making his or her judgment. By comparing the different laws, then the attorney can come up with the most appropriate judgment for the crime.
In this methodological debate, the author might stand for presumption of difference. In his debate, the author selects two countries that have very different laws and jurisdictions. In this context, he manages to show the different laws might lead to conflicts when it comes to making judgments on matters regarding relocation dispute.
The presented cases show a significant difference between the relocation laws in England and New Zealand. While most of the participants from England perceived relocation in a positive manner while making their judgment, most of the people in New Zealand perceived it in a negative dimension thus creating the difference in the opinions the different participants gave.
George believes that implementation of international laws in addressing relocation disputes would create challenges. He claims that not unless countries agree on the common parameters to use when making the judgments, it would be very hard to come up with judgments that all the involved parties freely accept.
This assertion signifies that he might stand for the presumption of difference when it comes to making judgments on matters pertaining relocation disputes.
Evaluation of author’s choice of jurisdictions
George makes a good choice of jurisdictions for comparison. His selection of England and New Zealand facilitates in bringing out all the challenges encountered when making judgments against relocation disputes involving foreign elements.
Even though attorneys in both England and New Zealand use children’s welfare in making their judgments against relocation problems, there are significant differences in the practitioners’ perception of the matter in the two countries. Most of the European countries share common perceptions.
Hence, the researcher would not have managed to show the disparities in solving relocation disputes had he used countries like England and France. By using England and New Zealand, George was able to show how child welfare might pose a major challenge when making judgments on relocation matters.
Many people were advocating for the use of child welfare in solving relocation disputes. Nevertheless, they did consider that different attorneys might have different perceptions about the welfare; therefore, posing challenges to solving relocation disputes involving international elements.
While England had different laws governing relocation based on the nature of the relocation, New Zealand only have one law, which makes the choice of the two countries most appropriate. In comparing the two countries, George is able to show how lack of flexible laws governing relocation might lead to challenges in addressing the relocation disputes.
For instance, England has flexible laws thus making it possible for attorneys in the country to resolve relocation disputes amicably. By offering laws for different forms of relocation, the country makes it possible for the courts to solve the disputes easily. On the other hand, New Zealand has a single system of law that governs relocation issues.
Hence, the country treats both local and international relocation equally. Consequently, while England focuses on the well-being of the applicant in solving the dispute, New Zealand focuses on enduring and steady family relationships, which make the two legal systems very different thus, the most appropriate to use in studying this issue.
Both England and New Zealand are very different geographically. For England, international relocation would mean moving for a few miles to Ireland. On the other hand, in New Zealand, international relocation would mean moving for thousands of miles. The selection of the two countries facilitates in bringing out the inconsistency in judgment that might arise from different countries.
The two countries prove that it would be very hard for the different countries to arrive at a mutual interpretation of the needs of the welfare principle on matters to do with relocation. Already countries had started drafting an international document like Washington Declaration to facilitate in solving relocation challenges.
However, by comparing England and New Zealand, George has managed to bring out the issue of international coherency on matters to do with welfare. The issue was not considered in the previous declaration and it could have led to challenges later.
Prescriptive and descriptive legal scholarship
To some extent, this paper embodies descriptive legal scholarship. In a bid to bring out the legal system in both England and New Zealand, George took time to describe the judicial system observed by the two countries. He takes time to describe the different relocation laws used in England as well as the various considerations made by attorneys when passing judgments on matters to do with relocation disputes.
Moreover, the help the learners understand how relocations issues are treated in England, George goes further to describe the different forms of relocation practiced in the country. By describing the different approaches used in resolving relocation despites in England, he helps the readers understand the England’s judicial system and its strengths and weakness in dealing with relocation disputes.
George goes further to describe the New Zealand’s judicial system showing the approach used in addressing relocation disputes in the country. He further gives a comparison between the two countries and describes both their similarities and differences.
In spite of the article embodying a descriptive legal scholarship, the paper also embodies a prescriptive legal scholarship. The objective of the article was to show how the different judicial systems pose a challenge to the implementation of a universal code that deals with relocation challenges. He uses varied case scenarios to show how the different judicial systems interpret the same incident differently.
In concluding, George gives some guidelines on what ought to be done to ensure that countries come up with a common law that deals with disputes that involve international relocation.
George warns that for countries to continue drafting international laws that focus on welfare principle, the stakeholders need to take time and determine if there is actually coherency between the states or the different countries still observe their individual standards.
George adopts a good approach to compile his article. He starts by bringing out the nature of the current challenge in addressing relocation disputes. He effectively present the jurisdictions of both England and New Zealand therefore helping the reader understand how each system contribute to the existing challenge.
His use of two countries that are very different with respect to how they perceive relocation challenges makes it possible for George to show the intense of the existing challenge. The approach helps in making the reader understand the challenges facing the ongoing process of drafting international laws aimed at addressing global relocation disputes.
This aspect allows one to see the rationale of his argument that for countries to come up with an international law that addresses international relocation disputes, they have to ensure that there is coherency in welfare principles.
The main reason for conducting a comparative legal research is to help the law making agents in a country to use foreign laws in establishing laws for their country. Besides, people conduct comparative legal research to have a clear understanding of the laws in different countries. George conducted a comparative legal research to help him understand the differences in the laws that govern relocation issues in England and New Zealand.
In his methodological debate, George supported the ‘presumption of difference’. He believed that it is hard for countries to come up with an international law that addresses relocation disputes. Hence, it would be imperative for attorneys to consider the individual laws of the countries involved in a relocation dispute before making their judgment. Gorge made a good choice of his jurisdictions of comparison.
The two countries have very different perceptions towards relocation issues. By using countries that differ completely in relocation laws, he managed to bring out the underlying challenges in the attempt to establish international laws for addressing relocation issues. He presented his article in a manner that it embodied both prescriptive and descriptive legal scholarship.
George began by describing the relocation policies used by the two countries. He even brought out the differences in the policies. He then terminated the paper by prescribing the measures that need to be taken to ensure that countries do not come up with international laws that will later pose challenges to relocation matters.