Quantitative Research Methods in Political Science
© Colin Whelan 2013
201: Research methods in political science
am Colin Whelan
ofﬁce hours: Tuesdays 12:30-2:15 (after class) or by appointment • Labs
start week 2
FORMAT OF THE COURSE
is the statistical software we will use in this course
to download and install it are included in the
is a difﬁcult software to learn but I use it for two main reasons: • It
forces you to understand what you are doing
KELLSTEDT AND WHITTEN
main textbook for the course
are not too long, generally easy to read
sure to read thoroughly though!
are readings for week 1 and 2 (sorry!)
week 1: Focus on 1.3; and 2.2-2.4
rest is important; but is mainly good background info
quiz next week!
Research Question: an empirical question about why or how some phenomenon varies
Research questions should be general
Research questions should be about all relevant cases
Notice that we are studying variation. Variation can be over time or across different cases.
Each case is a unit of analysis
We measure the concepts as variables
Variables require some variation in the concept of interest
If our unit of analysis is people, than species is not a variable; if it were animals, species would be a variable
Variables map a concept to a measurement, we call this operationalization •
For any research question we differentiate between:
The Dependent Variable; and
Other Independent Variables
We use the term variable to refer to both the concept in theory, and the measurement of the concept in our dataset.
Here are some examples:
GDP per capita
Rights and freedoms
A Likert scale
DO VOTERS GET MORE
CONSERVATIVE AS THEY AGE?
Source: 2008 Canadian Election Study