Short Course: Process Tracing (QMMR 3)

Process Tracing (QMMR 3)

Colin Elman
Half Day, 1:30 PM-5:30 PM
Marriott Wardman Park, Virginia A

This course will cover the underlying logic and best practices of process tracing, which is a within-case method of developing and testing causal explanations of individual cases.

We will briefly summarize the philosophy of science behind explanation via reference to hypothesized causal mechanisms and then outline the logic of process tracing in terms of Van Evera’s “hoop tests,” “smoking gun tests,” “doubly decisive tests,” and “straw in the wind tests.” We will then explicate an explicitly Bayesian approach to process tracing, which entails asking whether the evidence we find would be more or less plausible if a given hypothesis is true as compared to a rival.

Throughout the session we will emphasize best practices and applications to exemplars of process tracing research. Students will practice applying Bayesian reasoning in small group exercises. As time allows, and depending on the number of students, the instructors will also ask students to discuss how they plan to use process tracing in their current research project. This will allow the instructors and fellow students to offer constructive advice on how best to carry out process tracing in each student’s project.

**All Short Courses will take place on Wednesday, August 28, 2019 at the APSA 2019 Annual Meeting in  Washington, DC.**

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