Trends in Political Science Research and the Progress of Comparative Politics
by Matthew Charles Wilson, West Virginia University
This article illustrates major trends in political science research and frames the progress of research agendas in comparative politics. Drawing on the titles and abstracts of every article published in eight major political science journals between 1906 and 2015, the study tracks the frequency of references to specific keywords over time. The analysis corresponds to and complements extant descriptions of how the field has developed, providing evidence of three ‘revolutions’ that shaped comparative politics—the divorce of political science from history during its early years, a behavioral revolution that lasted until the late 1960s, and a second scientific revolution after 1989 characterized by greater empiricism. Understanding the development of the subdiscipline, and viewing it through the research published in political science over the last 100 years, provides useful context for teaching future comparativists and encourages scholars to think more broadly about the research traditions to which they are contributing.