Bridging the Gap: Using Qualitative Evidence to Evaluate Formal Models
Posted: 5 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
In the ongoing debate about how to test formal models, the role of qualitative evidence has been oddly neglected, even though it is a commonly used by formal theorists. Moreover, qualitative research has played an important role in shaping our collective assessment of the value of many models. We argue that this is no accident, but rather reflects the shared focus of formal theorists and qualitative researchers on mechanisms. Despite this, the flourishing literature on qualitative methodology pays little attention to the specific issues involved in evaluating formal models, and formal modelers generally offer qualitative evidence with very little methodological self-consciousness. This paper takes a first step toward constructive engagement between the two literatures, offering ways that formal modelers can make their qualitative evidence more rigorous as well as providing insights for qualitative scholars interested in empirically evaluating formal theories.
Keywords: multi-method research, game theory, qualitative methods, case studies, process tracing, analytic narratives
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