For most real world occurrences, several distinct explanations can be thought of relatively easily.1 Even for rather understudied events or novel developments, the general social scientific literature, historical accounts and claims by participants can furnish a series of competing hypotheses. Unless one account is privileged by really incontrovertible evidence, such as the often-cited ‘smoking gun’, discriminating among these potential explanations is tricky. An explanation of an event or series of events, however, will only be convincing to other researchers to the extent that a study manages to establish the superiority of one over all other accounts. The problem for research is thus one of making credible that a specific cause or several causes rather than alternative causes can explain an outcome. In this chapter, I set out some tools that should help researchers achieve just this objective when confronted with rival (middle-range) theories in their research projects.
- Trade Policy
- Trade Liberalization
- Variable Bias
- Trade Barrier
- Rival Theory
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© 2007 Andreas Dür
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Dür, A. (2007). Discriminating among Rival Explanations: Some Tools for Small-n Researchers. In: Gschwend, T., Schimmelfennig, F. (eds) Research Design in Political Science. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230598881_10
Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London
Print ISBN: 978-1-349-28564-8
Online ISBN: 978-0-230-59888-1