Chapter 31: Digging through documents: the promise, problems, and prospects of archival research for international relations
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What is the role of archival research in international relations? For all the ferment around research methods and data collection in IR over recent decades, strikingly little work engages the logic, limits, and practicalities of archival research. This chapter looks to remedy this deficit. After first discussing the composition of archives themselves, the chapter outlines the potential for archival research to contribute to qualitative or quantitative scholarship by helping researchers assess variables, evaluate causal mechanisms, and uncover unexpected variation. From there, it discusses potential biases embedded within archival research and reviews potential methods for addressing such biases. The chapter then concludes by detailing practical steps - from gaining access to an archive to arranging a trip and organizing files - researchers need to be prepare for when undertaking archival work.

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