Causal process "observation": Oxymoron or (fine) old wine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The issue of how qualitative and quantitative information can be used together is critical. Brady, Collier, and Seawright (BCS) have argued that "causal process observations" can be adjoined to "data set observations." This implies that qualitative methods can be used to add information to quantitative data sets. In a symposium in Political Analysis, I argued that such qualitative information cannot be adjoined in any meaningful way to quantitative data sets. In that symposium, the original authors offered several defenses, but, in the end, BCS can be seen as recommending good, but hopefully standard, research design practices that are normally thought of as central in the quantitative arena. It is good that BCS remind us that no amount of fancy statistics can save a bad research design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-505
Number of pages7
JournalPolitical Analysis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 22 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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