Basics of Causal Case Study Methods

Derek Beach, University of Aarhus

COURSE DESCRIPTION

The aim of this course is to provide students with a good understanding of case-based methods and how they can be applied in your own research. This introductory course is designed for students in the early to mid-stages of a research project, where you have already defined your research question and are interested in learning about what case-based methods can offer. Some knowledge of basic social science methodology is helpful, although not required. 

 
The focus will be on methods like small-n comparisons and in-depth case studies using Process-tracing. The core of the readings will be a forthcoming book on causal case studies co-authored by the instructor.
 
For those of you considering enrolling in this course, watch the video below to find out more!
 

DATES

This course runs January 15-19, 2018.

TEACHING FELLOW: 

Natália Calfat

COURSE OUTLINE

The course covers the following topics:

 

DAY 1 - WHAT ARE CASE BASED METHODS, AND HOW DO THEY DIFFER FROM VARIANCE-BASED METHODS?
King, Gary, Robert O. Keohane & Sidney Verba (1994), Designing Social Inquiry. Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University press, Chapter 3, pp. 75-114
Mahoney, James and Gary Goertz (2006), “A Tale of Two Cultures”, Political Analysis, vol. 14, no. 3, p. 227-249.
Beach and Pedersen (forthcoming) Causal Case Studies. Under contract at the University of Michigan Press, Chapter 1.
 
DAY 2 - WORKING WITH CONCEPTS AND THEORIES IN CASE-BASED RESEARCH
Goertz and Mahoney (2012) A Tale of Two Cultures. Princeton: Princeton University Press, Chapter 11, 12, 13, pp. 139-160.
Beach and Pedersen (forthcoming) Causal Case Studies. Under contract at the University of Michigan Press, Chapter 2, 3.
 
DAY 3 - COMPARATIVE METHOD
Beach and Pedersen (forthcoming) Causal Case Studies. Under contract at the University of Michigan Press, Chapter 7.
Risse-Kappen, Thomas (1991) ‘Public Opinion, Domestic Structure, and Foreign Policy in Liberal Democracies.’, World Politics, Vol. 43, No. 4, pp. 479-512.
 
DAY 4 - CASE STUDIES
Beach and Pedersen (forthcoming) Causal Case Studies. Under contract at the University of Michigan Press, Chapter 8, 9.
 
DAY 5 - MAKING INFERENCES IN CASE-BASED RESEARCH
Beach and Pedersen (forthcoming) Causal Case Studies. Under contract at the University of Michigan Press, Chapter 5, 6 (on causal inference and Bayesian framework)
Doyle, Arthur Connan (1894) Silver Blaze can be downloaded free at:  http://www.wesjones.com/doyle1.htm
 
A constant theme throughout the course will be on debating the strengths and limitations of different case-based methods, illustrating the types and scopes of inferences that are possible, and how they differ from what variance-based methods enable.
 
The course will contain lectures and discussions in the morning sessions, followed by group exercises in the afternoons. Many of the exercises will utilize aspects of your own research projects.

 

PREREQUISITES

Some familiarity with the basics of research design and methods at the BA/MA level is preferable (though not strictly required). If no prior courses have been taken, please familiarize yourself with the basics using a book like ‘Research Methods in Politics’ (Burnham et al) (Palgrave).