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An essential tool for cutting-edge social science research

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Process-tracing in social science is a method for studying causal mechanisms linking causes with outcomes. This enables the researcher to make strong inferences about how a cause (or set of causes) contributes to producing an outcome. In this extensively revised and updated edition, Derek Beach and Rasmus Brun Pedersen introduce a refined definition of process-tracing, differentiating it into four distinct variants and explaining the applications and limitations of each. The authors develop the underlying logic of process-tracing, including how one should understand causal mechanisms and how Bayesian logic enables strong within-case inferences. They provide instructions for identifying the variant of process-tracing most appropriate for the research question at hand and a set of guidelines for each stage of the research process.

Derek Beach is Professor of Political Science at Aarhus University.
Rasmus Brun Pedersen is Associate Professor of Political Science at Aarhus University.

“A practical guide for using process-tracing in social research . . . Recommended.”

“There is a real need for a book of this kind. The authors have thought through a number of the issues. They are able to explain the technique, its rationale and limitations in terms that are readily accessible to students.”
—Peter Hall, Harvard University

“Process-tracing is foundational to the within-case qualitative research tradition. Beach and Pedersen provide a comprehensive introduction to the approach and help to fill a significant gap in the qualitative research methods canon. This book will be widely read and cited.” 
—Colin Elman, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University