Feet of Clay? How to Review Political Science Papers that Make Use of the Work of Historians

Feet of Clay? How to Review Political Science Papers that Make Use of the Work of Historians

By Jørgen MøllerAarhus University

Political scientists increasingly enlist the work of historians but they often treat this work in a nonchalant or superficial way, which makes their evidentiary record questionable. It follows that we need to check the validity of the interpretation of historians’ work in review processes. This article argues that enlisting historians as reviewers is not the answer. Instead, it proposes four simple criteria that can be used to flag situations in which the use of historians’ work as empirical evidence is unconvincing. The general purpose of the article is to increase awareness about what is at stake when political scientists base empirical analysis on evidence gathered by historians.

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