Political Science Now

Short Course: Process Tracing

Process Tracing (QMMR 4)

Andrew Bennett
Qualitative and Multi-Method Research Section, APSA Organized Section 37

2:00 pm – 6:00 pm

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. The first session of the course will briefly summarize the philosophy of science behind explanation via reference to hypothesized causal mechanisms. It will then outline the logic of process tracing in terms of Bayesian methods of inference, including the application of “hoop tests,” “smoking gun tests,” “doubly decisive tests,” and “straw in the wind tests.” The second session of the course will focus on best practices and examples of process tracing, including the more inductive use of process tracing for theory development as well as its deductive use for theory testing. As time allows, and depending on the number of students, the instructors will ask students to outline briefly 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 31 at the APSA 2016 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA.