Social Science Concepts: A User's Guide

by Gary Goertz

(2005 Princeton University Press)

Exercises and Classroom Use

As the title indicates, Social Science Concepts: A User's Guide is designed be useful in a classroom setting. While particularly appropriate for qualitative methods classes it treats issues of fundamental importance to courses on research design such as concepts, measurement, and case selection. Several of the chapters are large-N quantitative analyses and as such deals with issues from qualitative and quantitative perspectives. Much of the material I have developed by teaching it at the annual Qualitative Methods Training Institute at Arizona State University (click here to go the Institute's web site).

The book is available in paper ($28 US) or hardcover ($60 US). To access the Princeton University Press web page for the book click here.

Almost unique for a book designed for qualitative methods classes is the availability of exercises that can be assigned to students. These exercises range from problems of the logical of necessary and sufficient conditions to using the methodology developed in the book to analyze well-known theories. The exercises almost always use existing research as a starting point. Where possible I have chosen articles that are available in electronic form (e.g., JSTOR or university library subscriptions). A bibliography accompanies the exercises.

The exercises are organized by chapter. An answer key is available for instructors on request from me. Typically, these "answers" are brief hints and discussions. Sometimes I have included exercises that I think it would be interesting to care but have not had the time to do myself.

These exercise are a work-in-progress. I welcome suggestions for new exercises and comments on existing ones. Also welcome are more complete or different answers. I revise and add new exercises once a year, typically in August. There are now (May 2009) about 170 exercises in the file.

Graduate students have found these exercises quite useful in selecting paper topics. Many of the exercises imply a research question that could form the beginning point of a paper.

If you want to download the exercises (a pdf file) click here. The current version is 6.00 (revised Sept 2010).

If you would like to be put on a emailing list to be informed of future releases or email me with questions about the exercises, I can be reached at

In any large project there are inevitably errors that exist. An errata file for the book can be downloaded here. These are only substantive errata, not typos, etc.

Since the book contains three chapters with large-N statistical analyses, those interested in replication datasets and Stata do files can download the zip file (approximately 35MB file) by clicking here. See the file "concepts_rep.readme" for information on data files, Stata do files, and variable information.

Last revised Sept 2010