Quantitative Methods for Historians: A Guide to Research, Data, and Statistics

Quantitative Methods for Historians: A Guide to Research, Data, and Statistics

Quantitative Methods for Historians: A Guide to Research, Data, and Statistics

Quantitative Methods for Historians: A Guide to Research, Data, and Statistics

Synopsis

The pioneering texts in quantitative history were written over two decades ago, but as a command of methodological context, computer experience, and statistical literacy have become increasingly important to the study of history, the need for an introductory text addressing these matters has increased. Quantitative Methods for Historians is a theoretical and practical guide for the application of quantitative analysis in historical research. It is designed for students of history and related disciplines who are curious about the possibilities of quantification and want to learn more about its recent development.

Integrating the use of the statistical packages SAS and SPSS with the quantitative method, the authors discuss techniques for defining a problem, proceed to the building of a data set and the use of statistical methods, and conclude with the interpretation of results. The data set section concentrates on the basics of formalized research, discussing the coding process and the more complicated problems of data transformation and linkage. The statistical parts systematically build upon traditional fundamentals and introduce new analytical techniques for qualitative variables.

Intended as a working introduction to quantitative methods, this guide also provides additional information on advanced statistical techniques and discusses questions of historical computing, reflecting critically on the proper role of quantitative methods.

Excerpt

In response to a much lamented training deficit, this volume offers practical and theoretical guidance for the application of quantitative methods in historical research. It is designed for students of history and the neighboring disciplines who are curious about the possibilities of quantification and want to learn more about its recent development. In attempting to meet the distinctive needs of methodological context, computer experience, and statistical literacy, this book seeks to render research design transparent, to help with establishing data bases, and to provide enough statistical information so that analytical procedures can be applied responsibly. In order to facilitate use, the text follows the normal steps of research practice: It begins with the definition of a problem, proceeds to building a data set, goes on to statistical methods, and concludes with interpreting the results. The computer will be "demythologized" by building upon a widely available program package (SAS), but alternative programs such as SPSS will be discussed in the software notes as well. For easier comprehension, examples of quantitative work are not treated separately but are integrated at key points into the text. Suggestions for further reading are presented in a selected bibliography which also serves as a reference list for citations in social science style.

Tested in classroom and self-study, this introduction rests on broad transatlantic experience with quantitative methods. Under the title Quantitative Methoden in der Geschichtswissenschaft, the original version, published in 1985, was coauthored by the historical software expert Manfred Thaller, the economic statistician Gerhard Arminger, and the German social historian Konrad H. Jarausch. When favorable reviews suggested an English language . . .

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