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POL 2104 C - Intro to Comparative Politics - Emily Regan Wills - 02 Jan. 08.docx

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University of Ottawa
Political Science
Mark Salter

POL 2104 C - Intro to Comparative Politics - Emily Regan Wills - 02 Jan. 08 King, Keohane, & Verba, Designing Social Inquiry, Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research (universally referred to as KKV) - Published in 1994, all 3 authors are seniors scholars at Harvard or Princeton who have published widely in international relations, US politics, & comparative politics. - One of the most-read, most-assigned books in graduate study in political science. - An intervention into the field of PS at a particular moment, & also a broader contribution to the field of research methodology Making Research Scientific - The scientific method as we learn it in primary school is a reflection of some underlying principles involved in carrying out research. - KKV believe, unequivocally, that all empirical research about social reality needs to follow these core elements of the scientific method. - “[T]he rules [of scientific inquiry] are relevant to all research where the goal is to learn facts about the real world.” What makes research scientific? - Let’s start with what it’s not: - It doesn’t have to be quantitative (using numerically-quantifiable information). - It doesn’t have to have complete certainty - It doesn’t have to meet experimental standards. - The goal is inference. - The procedures are public. - The conclusions are uncertain. - The content is the method. - (p. 7-9) - So...what does it all mean? - One of their points is that you can do both good and bad research with any methods. Inference - To make a claim beyond data: not merely “at this time, this is what occurred,” but something bigger: “events like this have this outcome,” “this social process was at work during this time period,” “A& B are thus linked.” - Inferences can be descriptive (about the nature of a thing or its qualities) or cause (about how or why something causes something else. Public Procedures - We are capable of explaining and justifying why we did our research in a certain way. - There can b
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