Skip to main content

Comparative Research Designs and Methods

Explore comparative analysis and itsimportance in the social sciences. You'll learn howto use comparative methods for constructive explanation and theory building and applyit to real-world politics.

There is one session available:

5,332 already enrolled! After a course session ends, it will be archived.
Starts Nov 24
Ends Dec 31
Estimated 6 weeks
4–6 hours per week
Self-paced
Progress at your own speed
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course

This course is part of the IPSAMOOC project, a joint venture Federica Weblearning - IPSA, the International Political Science Association

Emile Durkheim, one of the founders of modern empirical social science, once stated that the comparative method is the only one that suits the social sciences. But Descartes hadposited that "comparaison n'est pas raison," which means that comparison is not reason (or theory) by itself. So what's the right answer?

This course provides an introduction and overview of systematic comparative analysis in the social sciences, and shows you how to use this method for constructive explanation and theory building.

A major portion of the course is devoted to new approaches and software that have been developed in recent yearsto handle highly complex cases. Such cases includecomparisons of EU member states, Latin American political systems,and particular policy areas. Procedures such as Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and related methods are able to reduce complexity and to arrive at "configurational" solutions based on set theory and Boolean algebra. These are more meaningful in this context thancommonly used, broad-based statistical methods.

Inthe last section, these methods are contrasted with more common statistical comparative methods at the macro-level. We'll discuss various states or societies and their respective strengths and weaknesses.

At a glance

  • Institution: FedericaX
  • Subject: Social Sciences
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Prerequisites:

    Basic quantitative or qualitative methodological trainingwill be useful, but participants with little methodological training should find no major obstacles to following the course.

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • An understanding of systematic comparative analysis and why it is more useful than other broad-based statistical methods
  • How to use systematic comparative analysis for constructive explanation and theory building
  • How to apply systematic comparative analysis to real-world politics

About the instructors

Interested in this course for your business or team?

Train your employees in the most in-demand topics, with edX for Business.