Research Methods - There is a debate in social sciences on how to best gather data for political science research - Qualitative vs. Quantitative Common Comparative Approaches - Qualitative research: A study that uses in-depth investigation of a limited number of cases - Quantitative research: A study that uses statistical data from many cases Qualitative Research - Evidence that is based off interviews, observations, archival and knowledge - Usually very narrowly focused - Variables are not rigorously defined or measures, that is not what is important - Hypotheses are not tested using a large sample of cases Quantitative Research - Using statistical analysis to prove hypotheses - Test variable that can be expressed numerically - Use many more cases to conduct research - More likely to use deductive reasoning Common Comparative Approaches - Game theory: Approach that emphasizes how actors or organizations behave in their goal To influence others - Analyze strategic interaction among rational decision-makers Are humans rational? - Rational choice theory: Approach that assumes that individuals weigh the costs and benefits
And make choices to maximize their benefits. - Human behavior, and social life in general, can be explained in terms of rational choices Of individuals - Actors will pursue their interests rationally - Will humans always act rationally? Challenges of Comparative Research - Comparative research can at times be very difficult to conduct - We will outline 7 prominent challenges with comparative politics research 1. Difficulty controlling the variables in the case you are studying - When searching for correlations and causations, political scientists are Sometimes unable to make true comparisons because each case is unique. Or very different 2. The interactions between the variables themselves - Even if you control your variables in making comparisons, there is still the Problem of multi-causality 3. Limits to information - There are often too few cases to accurately work with - There are fewer than 200 countries in the world, many of which did not exist a Few centuries ago - This can make it very difficult to find accurate comparisons 4. Access to cases - Research can be hindered by what is going on in any individual country
- Most political science research requires work in the field 5. Researchers tend to focus on single geographical areas - This is not necessarily a bad thing, but research has been historically focused On Western Europe 6. Bias - Researchers often select cases that they find interesting or that they think will Fit their preconceived hypothesis. - This can lead to what is called selection bias 7. Reverse causation - How can be sure what is the cause and what is the effect?