Summary: While heated arguments between practitioners of qualitative and quantitative research have begun to test the very integrity of the social sciences, Gary King, Robert Keohane, and Sidney Verba have produced a farsighted and timely book that promises to sharpen and strengthen a wide range of research performed in this field. These leading scholars, each representing diverse academic traditions, have developed a unified approach to valid descriptive and causal inference ...show more in qualitative research, where numerical measurement is either impossible or undesirable. Their book demonstrates that the same logic of inference underlies both good quantitative and good qualitative research designs, and their approach applies equally to each.
Providing precepts intended to stimulate and discipline thought, the authors explore issues related to framing research questions, measuring the accuracy of data and uncertainty of empirical inferences, discovering causal effects, and generally improving qualitative research. Among the specific topics they address are interpretation and inference, comparative case studies, constructing causal theories, dependent and explanatory variables, the limits of random selection, selection bias, and errors in measurement. Mathematical notation is occasionally used to clarify concepts, but no prior knowledge of mathematics or statistics is assumed. The unified logic of inference that this book explicates will be enormously useful to qualitative researchers of all traditions and substantive fields.
"This book has a lot to offer any and all researchers-from senior professional veterans to thesis newcomers at the undergraduate and graduate levels. . . . The authors provide so many examples from current research that the reader can devise strategies for getting the most leverage out of her own research. A must read."--Peter Gourevitch, University of California at San Diego