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Lecture#2-Key Concepts in Comparative Research Key concepts

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Anthony Sealey

Lecture#2-Key Concepts in Comparative Research Key concepts 1. Qualitative vs. Quantitative approaches 2. Descriptive exploratory and explanatory research 3. Ideographic and nomothetic explanation 4. Building and testing theories 5. Population and samples 6. Measurement sampling and error 7. Credibility, transferability and validity 8. Dependability and reliability 9. Confirmability and repicability 10. Validity reliability and bias 11. Cases UFA and bases of comparison Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches to Comparative Research  Qualitativelinguistic and discursive analysis  Quantitativefocus on statistical analyses of quantifiable data (analytical)  Comparisons between the two of them. E.g. #1 Interviews vs. Survey Research  One Qualitative approach to poli sci research is to interview subjects about their knowledge of particular political events or processes  Such an approach is highly analogous to survey research which is a quantitative approach that also asks research subjects to respond to a series of questions  Perhaps the biggest difference between these two research approaches is that the set of responses that research subjects can provide are highly structured in survey research (fixed choices) o Survey research limits choices and takes these responses/treat them as numbers  Interviews allow research participants greater latitude to respond to questions in whichever way they prefer o There are unstructured, semi structured or highly structured interviews o Although they are structured, interviews allow respondents to answer freely and not limited by the choices that they have been presented.  For the survey researcher, having a fixed set of possible response is crucial b/c it allows for application of statistical techniques to the data  Interviewsforce subjects to respond in limited number of ways to eliminate original creative or unexpected responses. E.g.#2-Qualitative vs. Quantitative content analysis  Qualitative content analysis involves reading and coding passages of text  QUANTITATIVE involves mechanize analytic processes such as generating counts of specific words in a given set of documents  Difference: degree of involvement of researcher in the analytic process.  The outcome is a relative de-emphasis of linguistic or discursive detail in quantitative research.  Rather than focusing on details of text in terms of survey research, the emphasis is on what the respondents have to say. Example Public Policy Analysis  Poli sci researchto determine the effects of specific policies on particular social outcomes  E.g. what is effect of varying approaches to health?  Social policies and citizens’ health.  Researchers use quantitative approaches to assess these relationships by attempting to establish correlations between types of social policies and level of citizen’s health.  Qualitative allows for inclusion of more detailed analysis. What do we mean by a greater quantity of data?  E.g. interviews vs. Survey Research o > more subjects  E.g. Content analysis o > more texts  E.g. Public Policy Analysis o >more countries (or provinces, etc…) INDUCTIVE LOGIC Descriptive, Explanatory and exploratory research are three categories.  Descriptive research is research that describes. An example: researcher describes an “occupy” movement  Exploratory research is exploring. E.g. initial analysis of possible causes of Occupy movementconclusions o exploratory research is tentative  Explanatory research explains. E.g. detailed analysis of a variety of causes of Occupy Movement and determine which variety of causes seems to be the most important for explaining citizen involvement.  Broad conclusion: Qualitative approaches tend to be more closely linked with descriptive AND exploratory research while QUANTITATIVE approaches are often linked with explanatory research.  Qualitative research can be explanatory and qualitative research can be descriptive or exploratory. Ideographic and Nomothetic Explanations  Quantitative research often provided nomothetic explanations  A nomothetic explanation is what might be regarded as a typical scientific explanation which posits specific cause and effect relationships and tests competing hypotheses in order to provide a parsimonious (frugal) explanation for the observed phenomenon.  On
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