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
Charles C. Ragin & Claude Rubinson
At the most general level, the term comparative methods may be used to refer to any research technique that focuses on patterns of similarities and differences across cases. More commonly, however, the term is used to refer to a family of techniques employed by small- N researchers. It is this family of techniques that is the main focus of this entry. Though comparative methods do have particular advantages for small- N researchers, there is no inherent connection between comparative methods and small N s. The development of formal methods of comparative research—specifically, qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) and related techniques—has facilitated the extension of comparative logic, which is configurational in nature, to large- N studies. This entry has six major sections. The first emphasizes the case-oriented nature of comparative research. This feature clearly differentiates it from conventional variable-oriented research and underscores its broad links to qualitative inquiry in general. The second ...