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

See all articles by Andrew Bennett

Andrew Bennett

Georgetown University - Department of Government

Tasha Fairfield

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Hillel David Soifer

Temple University Political Science Department

Date Written: February 12, 2019

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Bennett, Andrew and Fairfield, Tasha and Soifer, Hillel David, Comparative Methods and Process Tracing (February 12, 2019). American Political Science Association Organized Section for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, Qualitative Transparency Deliberations, Working Group Final Reports, Report III.1 (January 2019) . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3333405 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3333405

Andrew Bennett (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Department of Government ( email )

ICC, Suite 681
Washington, DC 20057-1034
United States

Tasha Fairfield

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Hillel David Soifer

Temple University Political Science Department ( email )

United States

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