It’s the Process Stupid! Process Tracing in the Study of European and International Politics

Process tracing, much in the ascendant as methodological approach, brings research closer to politics and strengthens the reliability of our findings. However, there are obvious risks entailed.

ARENA Working Paper 26/2005 (pdf)

Jeffrey T. Checkel

Process tracing is in, acquiring near buzz-word status in certain circles. Europeanists do it; IR scholars do it – all with the goal of bringing theory closer to what really goes on in the world. This makes our scholarship more policy relevant and increases the reliability of our findings - non-trivial advantages, for sure. Yet, such benefits do not come without costs. In particular, proponents of process tracing should be wary of losing sight of the big picture, be aware of the method’s significant data requirements, and recognize certain epistemological traps inherent in its application.

Tags: international relations, methodological issues, international regimes, political science
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM