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Public Health Law Research Guide

A guide to finding empirical studies related to public health law.

Legal Mapping

Scientific legal mapping (sometimes called a “50 state survey”) analyzes the state of the law concerning a particular legal topic.  A mapping study may examine the law at a particular point in time or its change over a period of time.  Policy surveillance, one type of legal mapping, tracks laws and policy over time in multiple jurisdictions and in turn can be used to evaluate those laws and policies’ effects.  Policy surveillance also allows stakeholders to see what is happening across multiple jurisdictions, whether to track a public health law campaign’s progress or to show whether a jurisdiction is an outlier.

How does one go about it?
A scientific legal mapping paper has the same features as empirical research:  systematic data collection and analysis using a replicable process.  The researcher collects and codes laws using key words and phrases.  Some resources are below.