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Cover Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Archival Research  

Chloé Brière

This chapter discusses archival research, starting with a description of archives. The various types of archives constitute a precious resource for researchers, and in many disciplines, such as sociology, political sciences, law, or history, archival research occupies a central place. Depending on the field of research, analysis may be limited to a single archive or require a comprehensive comparative analysis of various archives, taking into account their diverse nature and purposes. Archival research can be defined as finding, using, and correlating information within primary and secondary sources. Primary sources are sources created by persons directly involved in the event, reflecting their point of view, such as personal diaries or letters. In contrast, secondary sources are sources not based on a direct observation of an event, or on evidence directly associated with the subject, and they rely on pre-existing primary sources. The chapter then details the main steps of archival research and looks at the development of online archives and databases.


Cover Political Research

14. Textual Analysis*  

This chapter discusses the principles of textual analysis as a means of gathering information and evidence in political research. Textual analysis has generated strong interest as a research method not only in Politics and International Relations, but also throughout the social sciences. In political research, two forms of textual analysis have become particularly prominent: discourse analysis and content analysis. The chapter examines discourse analysis and content analysis and explains the use of documents, archival sources, and historical writing as data. It considers the distinction between discourse analysis and content analysis, as well as the differences between qualitative and quantitative content analysis. It also describes the procedures that are involved in both quantitative and qualitative content analysis.