Author(s): Evan Lieberman
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Cambridge University Press.
Page Numbers: 42 - 70
Editor(s): Colin Elman, John Gerring, James Mahoney
Research in the natural sciences follows a cycle from exploratory research with tentative findings (descriptive and correlational work) to more definitive causal claims. This chapter argues that the social sciences (particularly political science) would benefit from a wider application of this research cycle model. Creating space in top journals for tentative (novel) conclusions instead of precise estimation of causal effects could lead to greater causal explanations in the long term. This division of labor within the research cycle would require changing evaluations of a work’s contribution to research based on its location within the cycle. Causal explanations are still the goal of research in this model, but are facilitated by an openness to preliminary and tentative findings.