Empirical challenges and methodological approaches in comparative politics (through the lens of the Political Atlas of the Modern World 2.0)

Empirical challenges and methodological approaches in comparative politics (through the lens of the Political Atlas of the Modern World 2.0)

Article received: 2023.03.22. Accepted: 2023.04.18

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2023.05.10

For citation:

Melville A.Yu., Malgin A.V., Mironyuk M.G., Stukal D.K. Empirical challenges and methodological approaches in comparative politics (through the lens of the Political Atlas of the Modern World 2.0). – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No. 5. P. 153-171. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2023.05.10. EDN: NOWUCL

The article was prepared within the consortium of MGIMO University and HSE University and funded by the grant for the implementation of the Priority 2030 Strategic Academic Leadership Program. The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.


In recent decades, the expanding volume, diversity and coverage of data have created new or have transformed existing areas of research. They have also turned data into a key element of politics today. In this context, the status of empirical research that became the political science mainstream at the turn of the 20th - 21st centuries is not unambiguous. On the one hand, empirical research claims to produce rigorous scientific knowledge. On the other hand, it is plagued with distrust of both data sources and methods of analyzing them. Implementation of the Political Atlas of the Modern World 2.0 project by the consortium of MGIMO-University and the HSE-University involves a collection of large amounts of country data, and in order to avoid falling into the trap of data manipulation, it is necessary to use the state-of-art approaches to data collection, verification and analysis. This article discusses the general problems associated with the collection of empirical databases for comparative studies, and offers a tentative typology. These problems are investigated in relation to the Political Atlas of the Contemporary World 2.0 project. An overview of the key weaknesses of existing databases is given. Then key practices that claim to be the up-to-date “gold standard” for ensuring the quality of data collected are considered. The article also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of a number of popular data analysis methods in comparative studies. Methods previously employed in the Political Atlas of the Modern World project are also discussed.

consortium, MGIMO University, HSE University, state, database, index, quantitative methods, statistical analysis, principal component analysis, discriminant analysis, training sample, factor analysis, Bayesian statistics.


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Content No. 5, 2023

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