Methods and Models: A Guide to the Empirical Analysis of Formal Models in Political Science

Methods and Models: A Guide to the Empirical Analysis of Formal Models in Political Science

Methods and Models: A Guide to the Empirical Analysis of Formal Models in Political Science

Methods and Models: A Guide to the Empirical Analysis of Formal Models in Political Science

Synopsis

At present much of political science consists of a large body of formal theoretical work that remains largely unexplored empirically and an expanding use of sophisticated statistical techniques. While there are examples of noteworthy efforts to bridge the gap between these, there is still a need for much more cooperative work between formal theorists and empirical researchers in the discipline. This book explores how empirical analysis has, can, and should be used to evaluate formal models in political science. These developments, if combined, are potentially a basis for a new revolution in political science.

Excerpt

Political scientists have become adept at applying–from economics and other disciplines–exciting new statistical methods to analyze data. Even more noteworthy, political science “methodologists” are making their own contributions to the development of statistical techniques used in the discipline. As Bartels and Brady (1993) argue, many now expect political science graduate students in the field of methodology to use high—level econometric texts and to be versed in nonlinear estimation procedures, generalized least squares, ordered probit analysis, maximum likelihood, and so forth.

Yet this increase in complexity is not without costs. As the use of methodological techniques in political science has advanced, researchers have found that often their empirical study leads to more questions, questions that need theoretical input. However, because little existing theory is relevant or because the well—developed theory that does exist seems unconnected to the empirical issues, typically the response is to use more sophisticated methods or data gathering to answer the questions without reference to a fully developed theory. But these new methods often lead to still more questions, which in turn result in the use of more sophisticated methods to gather or analyze the data. The connection to theory seems to get lost in the methodological discussion. Rarely do researchers take the empirical results and rework the theoretical framework that began the discussion.

Example: Are Incumbents Spendthrifts? Consider the progression of research on the effects of campaign expenditure levels on voter choices in . . .

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