Research Topic

It’s About Time! Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches to Temporal Analysis

About this Research Topic

Social science research often involves time. Quantitative researchers sometimes explicitly treat time as a causal variable that can explain outcomes. For example, by incorporating a linear or quadratic time trend in regression analyses, we can model the dependent variable as a function of time. More often, however, researchers have to cope with time as a confounding effect on the outcome of interest. In this case, time is treated as “noise” that must be minimized to obtain more accurate estimates of the causal effects of interest. For example, researchers interested in the effect of age or maturity must be able to effectively separate the effect from that of time.

Meanwhile, qualitative treatments of time combines techniques from historiography and longitudinal data analysis with John Stuart Mill’s comparative method and process-tracing to test social science theories that contain causal processes that are both long and/or slow-moving but also involve micro-level causal mechanisms that play out during periods of rapid transition or change. Researchers have combined these techniques in their case research to explore events ranging from the emergence of civil wars to collective mobilization to the emergence of international norms and institutions. The study of such phenomena does not lend itself easily to quantitative or experimental analysis, but is better investigated using joint-longitudinal-comparative analysis of multiple cases over time—cases that may extend over years, decades, or in rare cases, centuries.

We welcome papers written on substantive topics in political science or public policy that involve time in one way or another. Authors should demonstrate in the study how the factor of time is dealt with conceptually and methodologically—as causal or confounding variables, a process, a context or a subjective perception. Quantitative methods commonly employed for such purposes include, but are not limited to, time-series analysis, (dynamic) panel data methods, survival analysis and (quasi) experimental techniques. Qualitative methods include, but are not limited to, process-tracing, qualitative longitudinal analysis, life course research, analytical narratives and interpretive approaches.


Keywords: Time, Quantitative, Qualitative, Temporal Analysis, Experimental Techniques, Time-series Analysis, Panel Data Methods, Survival Analysis, Process- tracing, Life Course Research, Analytical Narrative, Interpretive Appraoches


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Social science research often involves time. Quantitative researchers sometimes explicitly treat time as a causal variable that can explain outcomes. For example, by incorporating a linear or quadratic time trend in regression analyses, we can model the dependent variable as a function of time. More often, however, researchers have to cope with time as a confounding effect on the outcome of interest. In this case, time is treated as “noise” that must be minimized to obtain more accurate estimates of the causal effects of interest. For example, researchers interested in the effect of age or maturity must be able to effectively separate the effect from that of time.

Meanwhile, qualitative treatments of time combines techniques from historiography and longitudinal data analysis with John Stuart Mill’s comparative method and process-tracing to test social science theories that contain causal processes that are both long and/or slow-moving but also involve micro-level causal mechanisms that play out during periods of rapid transition or change. Researchers have combined these techniques in their case research to explore events ranging from the emergence of civil wars to collective mobilization to the emergence of international norms and institutions. The study of such phenomena does not lend itself easily to quantitative or experimental analysis, but is better investigated using joint-longitudinal-comparative analysis of multiple cases over time—cases that may extend over years, decades, or in rare cases, centuries.

We welcome papers written on substantive topics in political science or public policy that involve time in one way or another. Authors should demonstrate in the study how the factor of time is dealt with conceptually and methodologically—as causal or confounding variables, a process, a context or a subjective perception. Quantitative methods commonly employed for such purposes include, but are not limited to, time-series analysis, (dynamic) panel data methods, survival analysis and (quasi) experimental techniques. Qualitative methods include, but are not limited to, process-tracing, qualitative longitudinal analysis, life course research, analytical narratives and interpretive approaches.


Keywords: Time, Quantitative, Qualitative, Temporal Analysis, Experimental Techniques, Time-series Analysis, Panel Data Methods, Survival Analysis, Process- tracing, Life Course Research, Analytical Narrative, Interpretive Appraoches


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

19 December 2020 Abstract
18 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

19 December 2020 Abstract
18 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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