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.
- 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