The prime aim of this workshop is to evaluate critically, as well as constructively, some of the major cross-national datasets that are used in the field of comparative political science. Authors shall assess the strengths and weaknesses of these datasets – their conceptual foundations, measurement decisions, documentary bases, technical procedures, and publication practices. In addition, they shall discuss the empirical and theoretical implications these strengths and limitations carry for the study of politics. How do the numbers we use affect the world we see? Some of these datasets have been genuinely constitutive of their field of research. Their critical assessment shall provide vital insights to both younger scholars, who are still looking for which datasets to use in their work, and more seasoned colleagues, who might not have full oversight of the qualities and implications of the datasets available in the field.
The workshop is aimed at discussing a wide range of datasets that are used frequently in the field, including those used for primary and secondary analysis. Among the datasets we are interested in are cross-national surveys of mass attitudes (like the Eurobarometer, European Social Survey or the World Values Studies), collaborative research projects (like the ECPR Manifesto Project or the Freedom House dataset), so-called expert studies (such as those organized by Michael Laver and his collaborators or the Euroskepticism dataset from UNC), cross-national collections of “objective” data (like the OECD or UN datasets), and combined meta datasets (such as that of Transparency International).
We are looking for neither strong protagonists not vehement critics of these datasets. The project can only be successful if the contributors are critical but constructive in their attitude towards the dataset they assess. The key aim is not to reject the use of cross-national datasets, but to systematically examine their strengths and weaknesses as well as, most importantly, the substantive implications these strengths and weaknesses carry for comparative empirical research. Datasets are not an end in themselves. By improving them we aspire to improve the comparative research based on them.
This workshop will be part of the 2008 Joint Sessions of Workshops of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), the main European organization of (comparative) political scientists, which will be hosted in Rennes, France. Unlike panel conferences such as APSA and IPSA, participants at this conference attend only one workshop but for the full period of 11-16 April 2006. This unique setting provides for the most stimulating academic environment in which everyone discusses each other’s work.
Proposals for papers should be submitted to both conveners: Cas Mudde (email@example.com) and Andreas Schedler (firstname.lastname@example.org). For more information on the 2008 Joint Sessions of Workshops, or on this workshop, see http://www.essex.ac.uk/ecpr/events/jointsessions/rennes/index.aspx.
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