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Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science Paperback – 4 Sep 1997

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Author Stephen Van Evera greets new graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with an introduction to qualitative mentods in the social sciences. His hints grew from a handful of memos to a primer which has evolved into this text. The book of "how-to" information about graduate study is intended for graduate students and undergraduates in political science, sociology, anthropology, economics and history, and for their advisers. It discusses how theories should be framed, assessed and applied in the social sciences and provides a section on case studies to show novices the ropes. Other topics include: "Helpful hints on writing a political science PhD dissertation"; the division between hard science and social science; and how political scientists could and should work together as a community.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Practical guide to research/writing (and the arrows work) 6 Aug. 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Van Evera's book is simple, to be sure, but not simplistic; a prior reviewer's gibes at the notion of flow-charting a theory, with arrows, are a bit off the mark. As the reviewer notes, a theory designates a causal relationship. If so -- no matter what its other "good" points (parsimony, explanatory reach, etc) -- you can draw that causal relationship between the various independent variables and the dependent variable they help to explain. You can even draw it with arrows.
In general this book is recommended for 1st or 2nd year political science graduate students, and useful for advanced undergraduates (who will only care about the 1st 100 pages or so). It is clear and eminently practical. Other reviewers are right to imply there is little here in the way of philosophy of science in the broadest sense. But that merely makes this book a complement, not a substitute, to more esoteric explorations of the topic.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Bible for qualitative studies 8 May 2011
By svobodan - Published on
Format: Paperback
Some say that this book is not a guide to methods, or that it is certainly no model of sophistication. As such, I was skeptical about reading it, but once I did, I realized that Van Evera never does say that he will make the book for such a purpose. "I make no effort to cover the methodological waterfront." (p.1) As such, I think many reviews it receives are unmerited. Instead, I found this book very useful, even as a graduate student who has done many research methods already. Beauty of Van Evera's approach is that he offers an ESSENTIAL guide to those starting social science (I wish I had read this book when starting university), but even for older students, they can find practical advice on different issues, and clarification on topics that others don't explain as clearly (particularity in my previous class we had a big problem over defining 'method of agreement' vs. 'method of difference'). The book puts many complex topics in simplistic terms which helps keep thoughts organized. As such it is a necessary but not sufficient guide to methods for students of political science.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A logical straightforward guide for graduate students 14 Jan. 2013
By Michael Griswold - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science by Stephen Van Evera is a straightforward guide on the basic elements of producing quality graduate-level theories and papers that are required of that level of study. To some, the advice found in these pages may prove to be repetitious and common sense, but I personally found the sections on theories and case studies to be a highly useful tool to reinforce the core ideas of graduate level writing that grad students sometimes forget in their zeal over their research interests and meeting those deadlines. One drawback, is that it is geared towards graduate students who study international relations where the case study method is most prevalent. In other segments of the field, the large-n- method is empathized, meaning that other students using that method may need another book. Overall though, most students of political science should find something useful in this book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Zach 5 Sept. 2010
By Mooonshinefunk - Published on
Format: Paperback
Only an undergraduate student so I'm probably not the best person to review methadology. In the first section, Van Evera gives a good general overview of the basics. The most thorough section is on case studies. This is very helpful as case studies are often ignored by most, though, as the author notes, can be very helpful especially for IR. The third section also discusses in some depth what a dissertation should look like. This is helpful for someone new to the field and (I assume) for someone undertaking this. Just to note, Van Evera is an IR scholar and a lot of his examples and such are taken from the IR field. I enjoyed this, as that's my area of study, but if your not you might find this annoying.
Five Stars 13 July 2014
By Denise DeGarmo - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Love the book = great transaction.
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