I recently shared the following figure on Twitter:
The image depicts change—but also some continuity—in the scope and methods of articles published in top journals in the field of comparative politics. It comes from an analysis of every article published in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, World Politics, Comparative Political Studies, and Comparative Politics in five year increments from 1965-2015 plus 2017.
I collected these data not because I am particularly concerned about methods in comparative politics, but instead as part of a slightly narrower project on single country research in comparative politics. The first draft of that essay is available here. In it, I discuss issues of internal versus external validity, regional and language bias, and substantive political relevance, but basically the findings can be summed up in one figure:
For those interested in exploring these data further, I’ve made the raw data available for download here. I encourage anyone to search for your favorite article, or analyze further as you see fit. If you do use these data in any published work, please cite as follows:
- Katharina Obermeier and Thomas B. Pepinsky, 2018, “Dataset on Methodology in Comparative Politics”, https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/UCBNEH, Harvard Dataverse, V1.
- Pepinsky, Thomas B., “The Return of the Single Country Study” Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3197172, June 15, 2018.
Feel free to alert me if you detect any coding errors.
I hope that these data provide the foundation for further exploration. The coding of qualitative and experimental research, for example, is very coarse (by design). It would be interesting to further code the qualitative articles by methodology: archival, interview, ethnographic, secondary sources. Likewise, it would be interesting to look to see how frequently quantitative research invokes a logic of quasi- or natural experiments. These fine distinctions were beyond the ambit of our research, but some further digging could yield interesting insights.