Cover: Between Large-N and Small-N Analyses

Between Large-N and Small-N Analyses

Historical Comparison of Thirty Insurgency Case Studies

Published In: Historical Methods, v. 46, no. 4, Oct.-Dec. 2013, p. 220-239

Posted on on October 01, 2013

by Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, Beth Grill, Terrance Dean Savitsky

The authors study the 30 insurgencies occurring between 1978 and 2008 using four methods crossing the qualitative/quantitative divide. The four approaches are narrative, bivariate comparison, comparative qualitative analysis, and K-medoids clustering. The quantification of qualitative data allows the authors to compare more cases than they could "hold in their heads" under a traditional small-n qualitative approach, improving the quality of the overall narrative and helping to ensure that the quantitative analyses respected the nuance of the detailed case histories. Structured data-mining reduces the dimensionality of possible explanatory factors relative to the available observations to expose patterns in the data in ways more common in large-n studies. The four analytic approaches produced similar and mutually supporting findings, leading to robust conclusions.

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