Time to Quantify Turkey’s Foreign Affairs: Setting Quality Standards for a Maturing International Relations Discipline
International Studies Perspectives

Ersel Aydinli and Gonca Biltekin | January 2016

Time to Quantify

The first part of this article discusses the current state of International Relations (IR) in Turkey and begins with the argument that the local disciplinary community shows a lack of adequate communication and interactive scholarly debates, and therefore of knowledge accumulation. This article proposes that the growth of such engagement could be encouraged by increased methodological diversity, in particular additional research using quantitative methods. It argues that quantitative research could contribute to engagement by providing conceptual and methodological clarity around which scholarly debates could develop and ultimately contribute to Turkish IR’s progress as a disciplinary community. To substantiate these claims, this article goes on to discuss the development and contributions of quantitative research to global IR and illustrates the potential benefits of using quantitative methods in the study of Turkish foreign affairs.

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Experiments in International Relations: Lab, Survey, and Field
Annual Review of Political Science

Susan D. Hyde | May 2015

Experiments in IR

At conferences, at seminar s, and on political science blogs, the potential utility of experimental methods for international relations (IR) research continues to be a hotly contested topic. Given the recent rise in creative applications of experimental methods, now is a useful moment to reflect more generally on the potential value of experiments to study international affairs, how these inherently micro-level methods can shed light on bigger-picture questions what has been learned already, what goals are probably out of reach, and how various research agendas in IR might productively incorporate experiments.

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The Limits of Securitization Theory: Observational Criticism and the Curious Absence of Israel
International Studies Review

Amir Lupovici | September 2014

Limits of Securitization

Most discussions concerning how to evaluate theories make reference to empirical, methodological, logical, or normative criticisms. Less attention is given to how challenges in the theory itself affect the choice of cases. In this paper, Lupovici puts forward the concept of observational criticism, which aims to trace biases in the empirical employment of a theory. While it overlaps with some of the criticism mentioned above, observational criticism distinctly focuses on what we can learn about a theory through the prominence or absence of cases, or types of case, in the scholarship. To this end, Lupovici suggests a three-stage approach for this criticism and demonstrates each of these stages, as well as the utility of this framework, through a consideration of securitization scholarship - and more specifically of how securitization studies have overlooked the case of securitization moves in Israel. Lupovici suggests that although the concept of securitization has generated a great many studies on various theoretical and empirical issues, and despite the prominence of security discourse and practices in Israel, securitization scholarship has tended to avoid studying the securitization processes of this country. Following this mode of criticism, Lupovici argues that securitization theory could be more easily implemented in the case of Israel by, among other things, further clarifying the meaning of securitization success and its duration.

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Leaving Theory Behind: Why Simplistic Hypothesis Testing Is Bad for International Relations
European Journal of International Relations

John Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt | September 2013

Leaving Theory Behind

Theory creating and hypothesis testing are both critical components of social science, but the former is ultimately more important. Yet, in recent years, International Relations scholars have devoted less effort to creating and refining theories or using theory to guide empirical research. Instead, they increasingly focus on 'simplistic hypothesis testing,' which emphasizes discovering well-verified empirical regularities. Privileging simplistic hypothesis testing is a mistake, however, because insufficient attention to theory leads to misspecified empirical models or misleading measure of key concepts. In addition, the poor quality of much of the data in International Relations makes it less likely that these efforts will produce cumulative knowledge. This shift away from theory and toward simplistic hypothesis testing reflects a long-standing desire to professionalize and expand the International Relations field as well as the short-term career incentives of individual scholars. This tendency is also widening the gap between the ivory tower and the real world, making IR scholarship less useful to policymakers and concerned citizens. Unfortunately, this trend is likely to continue unless there is a collective decision to alter prevailing academic incentives.

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