Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards (Front Matter)

Rethinking Social Inquiry, 2nd edition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2010; ISBN: 978-1-4422-0344-0)

21 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2017

See all articles by Henry E. Brady

Henry E. Brady

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Political Science

David Collier

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 2010


Rethinking Social Inquiry seeks to redirect ongoing discussions of methodology in political and social science. This Preface presents our two goals in launching a second edition.

The first goal (a central focus of Part I) is to sustain the debate with King, Keohane, and Verba’s (KKV) Designing Social Inquiry. Nine chapters from the first edition are included here to continue this exchange. Although published more than 15 years ago, KKV remains a fundamental point of reference in political science methodology and in controversies on methods — as we discuss in the Introduction to the Second Edition. Through articulating the approach we call ‘‘mainstream quantitative methods,’’ KKV has wide importance in the political science discipline — and, correspondingly, in graduate student training. While we admire aspects of the book’s contribution, our strong dissent from many of the arguments remains highly salient today. KKV has played a key role in narrowing attention to a particular set of quantitative tools, and the methodological horizon of political science has been shortened by the book’s continuing influence. Sustaining this debate in 2010 therefore remains as necessary as it was when our first edition appeared in 2004.

The second goal is to open new avenues of discussion in methodology, both qualitative and quantitative. A number of chapters from the first edition — in particular chapters 8 and 9 — explore these wider themes. In addition, a new set of chapters has been incorporated as Part II of the second edition. These chapters offer an innovative view of the crucial qualitative tools of process tracing and causal process observations, as well as an extended new discussion of the weaknesses and strengths of regression analysis and other quantitative tools.

A detailed overview of the new chapters is provided in the Introduction to Part II below. A central theme of these chapters is the importance of methodological pluralism and the value of multi-method research. Qualitative analysis is strengthened when used in conjunction with quantitative research; and quantitative analysis, in turn, contributes more if it is built on a foundation of qualitative analysis and insight.

Two distinctive features of the second edition must be underscored. The first is the online placement, on the Rowman & Littlefield website, of four chapters from the first edition that are not included here. The online chapters are part of the original debate with KKV, and they also extend the discussion well beyond that debate. Thus, we are able to retain all the original chapters and accommodate the new chapters in Part II, with little change in the overall length of the printed book. These chapters are accessible by following the instructions on the copyright page of this volume.

Second, with the goal of advancing the understanding of process tracing and improving the teaching of this method, the online resources include a set of exercises. These challenge readers to push further in examining the case study evidence provided in the chapters by Bennett, Freedman, and Brady. The exercises also focus on additional readings, including the Sherlock Holmes story ‘‘The Adventure of Silver Blaze,’’ an excellent illustration of process tracing.

We are grateful for the extensive help we have received in preparing the second edition. It was our good fortune that the late David Freedman, prior to his untimely death in 2008, had already made many suggestions for this edition. Kimberly Twist — drawing on her long experience with professional editing and manuscript preparation — secured permissions from publishers and skillfully coordinated and assembled the book. Taylor Boas, Christopher Chambers-Ju, Fernando Daniel Hidalgo, Jody LaPorte, Simeon Nichter, and Neal Richardson drew on their strong methodological training to provide incisive comments on the new chapters. Alexis Dalke, Zoe Fishman, Maria Gould, Annette Konoske-Graf, and Miranda Yaver worked tirelessly in checking, correcting, and editing chapters, and as always, Jennifer Jennings provided astute advice. Niels Aaboe and Elisa Weeks of Rowman & Littlefield contributed both suggestions and great patience.

Keywords: political science, comparative politics, methodology

Suggested Citation

Brady, Henry E. and Collier, David, Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards (Front Matter) (January 2010). Rethinking Social Inquiry, 2nd edition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2010; ISBN: 978-1-4422-0344-0). Available at SSRN:

Henry E. Brady

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Political Science ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

David Collier (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Political Science ( email )

210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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