Confusing Categories, Shifting Targets
Journal of Democracy, October 2013, Vol. 24, No. 4
8 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2014
Date Written: January 9, 2014
Findings in the social sciences too often turn out to be unstable because of the difficulty of replication. Most of our research requires us to use data from the real world rather than from experiments (although some matters can be approached that way), so replication typically relies on the addition of new data. This is what Bogaards does, and it is a commendable service to the profession: Replications of existing studies, as illuminating as such replications may be, are too rare, since journals and universities often refuse to consider them when making decisions about publication, tenure, and promotion. I have always welcomed critiques and reevaluations. Indeed, I invited a series of accomplished scholars to critically reexamine, replicate, and assess the findings from the 2006 book Democracy and Elections in Africa. I find Bogaards’s criticisms of the work he cites wanting: He fails to accurately represent the main arguments and claims, and his attempt to “reexamine” the evidence is distorted by confusions, including the use of muddled categories as well as a failure to acknowledge that “democratization” as a process and “transition to democracy” as an event are different things.
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