Module 5: Coding the Law

This module teaches the fifth stage of the policy surveillance process: coding the law.  

Coding the law is the point in the process where question development and collecting the law come together. Coding the law seeks to use laws that are collected for each jurisdiction to answer the questions that were developed in Module 3. The goal of coding is to read, observe, and record the law, rather than to read and interpret the law. 

When coding a cross-sectional study, researchers code the law once for each jurisdiction. 

For a longitudinal study, the law has to be coded each time there is a change in the law. So, multiple versions of the law may be coded for each jurisdiction. When coding, researchers code answers to the study’s questions for each of those iterations to demonstrate how the law has evolved over time.  

Coding the law can be performed using one of several legal mapping tools. It is possible to code the law using a program such as MS Excel or Word, or some websites exist that are designed specifically for coding legal questions, such as the Workbench, which is what researchers use to create the datasets at 

Available Resources 

Below, you will find a link to a slide deck that explains this stage in the policy surveillance process. 

Module 6 >>

The Learning Library was developed using funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with modules supported in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and ChangeLab Solutions under Cooperative Agreement Number NU38OY000141. The views expressed in written materials or publications and by the speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. \