Bridging the Gap: Using Qualitative Evidence to Evaluate Formal Models

Posted: 5 Aug 2013

See all articles by Peter L. Lorentzen

Peter L. Lorentzen

University of San Francisco

M. Taylor Fravel

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Lorentzen, Peter L. and Fravel, M. Taylor, Bridging the Gap: Using Qualitative Evidence to Evaluate Formal Models (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper; American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2301490

Peter L. Lorentzen (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117-1080
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.peterlorentzen.com

M. Taylor Fravel

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

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