The Qualitative Analysis of Political Documents

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Qualitative document analysis remains one of the most common, yet methodologically misunderstood, components of political science research. While analysts are accustomed to incorporating manifestos, speeches, and other documents as evidence in their studies, few approach the task with the same level of understanding and sophistication as when applying quantitative methods. Building bridges between the two traditions, this chapter suggests guidelines for the rigorous, qualitative study of political documents. The discussion includes a novel examination of materials from the Poltext Project collection – a compilation of documents from across the Canadian provinces. The paper concludes that, whether approaching their work from a quantitative or non-quantitative perspective, researchers must adhere to similar disciplinary standards if their findings are to be considered trustworthy contributions to political science.


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