Qualitative methods: Case studies, process tracing, and QCA

In my book Case Studies and Causal Inference, I approach the case study method from a comprehensive perspective. Distinguishing between case studies that build, test, and modify hypotheses, I discuss all research design tasks that are specific to case studies: the identification of the proper type of case, case selection, comparisons, process tracing, the collection of evidence and its use for causal inference, and generalization. The discussion of these tasks is based on an integrative framework demonstrating that the realization of sound case studies hinges on where the case study is located on four dimensions capturing the research goal, the level of analysis, the nature of causal effect (correlation vs. set relation), and the mode of inference in terms of frequentism and Bayesianism. The article on process tracing in European Political Science is based on one part of my book.

Based on my book, I specifically pursue ideas related to causal inference via process tracing. Central to this work is the 2×2 typology of hypothesis tests invented by van Evera and advanced further by Andy Bennett. In my SMR article, I specifically focus on the dimension of uniqueness, show that its standard interpretation is wrong, and develop a modified typology remedying the existing problem. In future work, I plan to work on the dimension of certainty. In some work, this dimension is dealt with under the heading of Bayesian case studies in the literature. My paper for the APSA 2013 touches on some aspects of Bayesian process tracing and the idea of certainty in process tracing.

Peer-reviewed publications:
(2013): Comparative hypothesis testing via process tracing. Sociological Methods & Research advance access.

(2012): Case studies and causal inference: an integrative framework. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rohlfing - CSCI - Cover

(2013): Varieties of process tracing and ways to answer why-questions. European Political Science 12 (1): 31-39.

(2012): Analyzing multilevel data with QCA: a straightforward procedure. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 15 (6): 497-506.

Non peer-reviewed publications:
(2013): A tale of four books. Contribution to symposium on Goertz and Mahoney’s A Tale of Two Cultures. Newsletter of the APSA Section Qualitative Methods and Multi-Methods Research.

(2013): What is the relation between Comparative Historical Analysis and ‘ordinary’ case studies? European Political Science 12 (1): 16-19

(2008): Vergleichende Fallanalysen (Comparative case studies). Pickel, Susanne, Gert Pickel, Hans-Joachim Lauth and Detlef Jahn (eds.): Vergleichende politikwissenschaftliche Methoden. Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag.

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