European Political Science

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 291–305 | Cite as

studying interest groups: methodological challenges and tools

  • rainer eising


Research on interest groups has evolved from a focus on small-N studies to larger-N studies in the past 15 years. While both European and American research has become more sophisticated and aware of methodological aspects, there is yet no specialized literature on methods regarding how to study interest groups. Only few studies discuss the methodological implications of interest group studies, as well as the transferability of methods employed in other areas of political science to this research area. The contributions in this symposium focus on major problems and topics in interest group research and elaborate methods to deal with them: (1) the identification of the relevant interest group population, (2) the analysis of interest group strategies such as access, (3) the identification of interest groups positions and frames, and (4) the measurement of interest group success and influence. The introduction outlines these research problems and describes how the contributions to this symposium address them. The aim of the symposium is to increase awareness of the intricacies of these research problems, outline suitable practices to handle them, and stimulate debate on these methodological aspects.


interest groups research methods methodology 



The author would like to thank Helene Helboe Pedersen and the contributors to this special issue for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article. Helene and the author are grateful to those colleagues who have taken on the task of peer reviewing the articles in this symposium. They would also like to express their gratitude to the authors and commentators who delivered their insightful draft articles impeccably. They are also thankful to the participants of the workshop on methodological aspects of interest group research at the ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops in Salamanca in April 2014, which was the starting point for this symposium issue. Last not least, they would like to thank the European Political Science editorial team for their continued support. Research for this article has been funded by the German Science Foundation (grant EI 461/6-1) and the European Science Foundation (grant 10-ECRP-008).


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Copyright information

© European Consortium for Political Research 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • rainer eising
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social Science, Ruhr-University BochumBochumGermany

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