The purpose of this article is to make IR scholars more aware of the costs of choosing quantitative methods. The article first shows that quantification can have analytical ‘costs’ when the measures created are too simple to capture the essence of the systematized concept that was supposed to be measured. If we create measures that do not accurately map the structure of the systematized concept, we are left with inaccurate and misleading measures that result in biased inferences. This is illustrated by replicating a recent article published in International Organization, and then discussed in more detail based upon a review of the democratic peace literature. I then offer two positive suggestions for a way forward. First, I argue that quantitative scholars should spend more time validating their measures, and in particular should engage in multi-method partnerships with qualitative scholars that have a deep understanding of particular cases in order to exploit the comparative advantages of qualitative methodology, using the more accurate qualitative measures to validate their own quantitative measures. Secondly, quantitative scholars should lower their level of ambition given the often poor quality of the data that they are working with, engaging instead in multi-method partnerships where statistical tools are used to detect possible interesting correlations that are then more systematically investigated using qualitative case study methods.
Ikke Angivet, 2007
Main Research Area:
International Studies Association Annual Convention, 2007
Department of Political Science, University of Aarhus