Comparative Methods and Process Tracing
American Political Science Association Organized Section for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, Qualitative Transparency Deliberations, Working Group Final Reports, Report III.1 (January 2019)
17 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2019
Date Written: February 12, 2019
Process tracing is a within-case method of drawing inferences from evidence in a case to theories about hypothesized causal mechanisms that might explain the outcome of that case. The comparative methods in this report include comparisons among small numbers of case studies that use process tracing. The report discusses four approaches to process tracing: traditional narrative-based analysis, Van Evera's (1997) analytic tests, Bayesian process tracing, and process tracing that aspires to the relatively complete elucidation of causal mechanisms. This report focuses on analytic transparency, leaving transparency in generating and sharing evidence to other QTD reports. As recent methodological advances in process tracing have been rapid and are the subject of ongoing debates, the report differentiates between core recommended practices and emerging practices that might be considered, depending on the costs entailed, by authors, reviewers, and readers. For each research practice, the report provides exemplars.
Keywords: qualitative methods, research transparency, process tracing, case studies, comparative methods, Bayesianism, causal mechanisms, Qualitative Transparency Deliberations
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