Key topics covered
We will cover a logical sequence of topics that constitute the core building blocks of a solid CRD:
- Thinking upstream: why go comparative? What is the added value of comparison? What should be the mindset of a good comparative researcher? What is the link between a research puzzle and the choice for a CRD? How to formulate a comparative research question?
- ‘Casing’ operations: what are my cases, how to define them, conceptually and empirically? At which level(s) (micro, meso, macro) can they be apprehended? And what about the time dimension?
- Which case selection strategy to choose? How many cases and which ones? Should I go ‘smaller-n’ or ‘larger-n’? Should I select cases with similar or different outcomes? Which basic case selection strategies are available, and what are the pros and cons? And what about more advanced strategies, e.g. ‘nested’ (multilevel) designs, designs including multiple time periods, etc?
- How to systematically collect good-quality data when covering multiple cases? What are the tricks of the trade? How to gain sufficient ‘intimacy’ with the respective cases (case-based-knowledge)? And how to compile and manage this data?
- How to engage in comparative data analysis? Which toolbox(es) to select, among ‘qualitative’ (case-oriented), specifically comparative (in particular QCA – Qualitative Comparative Analysis), and ‘quantitative’ (statistical, variable-oriented) data analysis techniques?
We’ll unpack topics 1, 2 and 3 in detail, and take a bird’s eye view of topics 4 and 5 because they refer to multiple methods and techniques (and multiple specialised – including many courses in weeks 2 and 3 of the 1st ECPR Virtual Methods School).
How the course will work online
This course helps you make concrete progress on the CRD of your main research project, in three ways:
- getting access to multiple resources and tricks of the trade
- discussing with small groups of fellow participants facing similar challenges
- receiving tailored feedback and guidance from the Instructor
The course operates in two stages: first, independent, pre-course activities 12ꟷ26 July, followed by live sessions 27ꟷ31 July, in effect spanning around three weeks. During the first two weeks, you can navigate through the pre-course resources at your own pace. During the third week, there will be time slots for ‘live’ interaction with the Instructor – more details nearer the time.
The pre-course part will comprise access to:
- preparatory readings, including some annotated readings
- a broader, commented list of recommended readings, based on your specific challenges and interest
- pre-recorded lectures by the Instructor
- a medium to start interacting with fellow participants.
Then the live, interactive part of the course will comprise:
5. short plenary Q&A sessions about the pre-recorded lectures and the preparatory readings
6. seminar-style discussions and presentations in smaller breakout groups – with the Instructor hopping from room to room
7. short 'lessons-learned' sessions.