research methods notes

research methods notes - Methods of Political Inference...

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Methods of Political Inference 9.25.2008 1. Cases : main units to compare and contrast in studies Often times, cases are countries; other times they are individuals 1. A. Four episodes in US history: war with Japan, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War 2. B. National level (country level) 3. C. If you’re looking just at US as the case, it would be across time; if you look at the episodes individually, it’s more at one point in time 2. Dependent Variable (outcome variable): what you’re trying to explain; dimension used to compare case; number of potential variables is infinite (eye color, height, etc.) Both similarities and differences; cases are never inherently similar or different, only with respect to different areas Don’t compare all things, but certain kinds of cases Must have at least two possible values 1. A. Use or non-use of nuclear weapons 2. B. Use or non-use; not real vivid 3. C. Dropping or launching of nuclear weapons in all uses except testing 4. D. Why do the cases have the values they do on the dependent variable? Why was there non-use on the latter three? Use or non- use? Nuclear Taboo Rational? War with Japan Use No taboo Rational Korean War Non-Use Taboo Not Rational Vietnam War Non-Use Taboo Not Rational Persian Gulf War Non-Use Taboo Not Rational 5. E. Nuclear weapons have potential to destroy the planet. It’s important to understand why they would be used or not used sometimes. 6. F. Well known common knowledge; cites books in footnotes about leaders intentionally deciding to use bomb in 1945; no intention to use them later. 3. Main Independent Variable (Causal or explanatory variable): what you think causes contrasts and similarities on the dependent variable; what factors affect the dependent variable Income of country = dependent; work ethic = independent 1. A. Normative prohibition against nuclear weapons; nuclear taboo 2. B. The nuclear taboo is a de facto prohibition against nuclear weapons; it is the normative belief about the behavior
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3. C. Taboo becomes more strongly present over time 4. D. Associated with framework that emphasizes normative beliefs; linked to constructivist theories of international relations 5. E. Reasons why independent variable exerts its impact on dependent variable (ie: smoking and lung cancer); nuclear taboo imposes norm (hard for humans to break norms), defines categories in ways that make it hard to discuss using nuclear weapons without seeming uncivilized, protect legitimate use of other weapons 6. F. Text of discussions among US decision makers; government documents and interviews 4. Other Independent Variables 1. A. Yes. Leaders are strategic with cost-benefit analysis. Rational deterrence—she rejects this argument. 2. B. Yes. Tannenwald is constructionist, and the other variables are realist.
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