Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Quantitative Methods, Basic Assumptions
Kevin A. Clarke
The use of quantitative methods in political science generally means the application of a statistical model to political science data, and a statistical model is simply a set of compatible probabilistic assumptions. Fundamentally, assumptions are modeling choices made by a researcher concerning the distribution of the data to be modeled, how the parameters of that distribution change over observations or time, and the dependence of one observation on another. The assumptions serve the dual purpose of reducing the number of parameters in the model that must be estimated and imbuing potential estimators with certain properties. The goals of the modeling process are description and inference, and how well a model accomplishes these goals is a direct function of how appropriate its assumptions are for a particular data set. The structure of the entry proceeds as follows. First, the relationship between assumptions, models, and estimators is discussed. Second, the assumptions of ...