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Process Tracing Methods - Introduction (RSS1.07) - Confirmed

Process Tracing (PT) unpacks the causal mechanism that underlies an association and enables within-case inferences about the processes that link causes and outcomes. 
This one-week summer course opens the “black-box of causation” and develops the necessary conceptual knowledge and practical skills to conduct a full-fledged PT. It offers a thorough but hands-on introduction to PT and applies the insights to participants’ own projects.



    The application deadline has passed, applying is no longer possible

    Process Tracing (PT) is a within-case method that aims at uncovering the causal mechanism that underlies an association. Through PT, we study the “link” or “causal pathway” that connects a trigger to an outcome. Arguably, PT is the only qualitative method that explicitly focusses on studying causal mechanisms and that aims to understand how a particular outcome came about. PT moves beyond studying “mere” correlations and associations and is, therefore, an “invaluable method that should be included in every researcher’s repertoire.” (George and Bennett 2005, 224). 

    The aim of this one-week course is to develop the necessary conceptual knowledge and practical skills to conduct a full-fledged PT—from theory development and case selection to data-gathering, analysis, and drawing conclusions. 

    Over the course of five days, we will discuss what causal mechanisms are, how they advance our understanding of (social) phenomena, what it means to study them, and what conclusions can be drawn on the basis of PT. We will position PT in the broader methodological field and discuss particular strengths and weakness, as well as idiosyncrasies and complementarities. 

    This introduction to PT takes a hands-on approach applying the new insights to concrete examples and participants’ own research projects. The exercises will challenge participants to think about causality and social scientific research in new ways and to translate their own projects into PT-studies. This practical focus does mean most benefit is to be expected if participants are able to use parts of their own research, or research ideas, during the course.


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    Starting date

    17 June 2024, 9 am
    Educational method
    Main Language
    17 June 2024, 9 am - 21 June 2024, 5 pm
    Hilde van Meegdenburg
    Unique code


    Type of education
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    See the requirements in cost and admission
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    Radboud Summer School

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    Hilde van Meegdenburg

    Hilde van Meegdenburg

    Hilde van Meegdenburg is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University. Her substantive research focusses on international security and state foreign policy making with a particular focus on the organization of foreign aid and military interventions. Hilde has taught numerous advanced and introductory courses on process tracing and qualitative case study methods throughout Europe, recently published a book-chapter on (interpretive) process tracing methods, and is currently co-authoring a book with Patrick A. Mello on how to combine Process Tracing methods with Qualitative Comparative Analysis. For more information see:

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    • Regular: €1049 (application deadline 13th of May)
    • Student & PhD's: €699 (application deadline 13th of May)

    Includes: your course, short morning and late afternoon courses, coffee and tea during breaks, a warm lunch every day, Official Opening, MethodsNET Café (including some drinks and snacks) Official Closing (with some drinks and snacks) and a 1-year (2024 calendar year) free membership as MethodsNET regular member.

    Excludes: transport, accommodation, social events and other costs. 

    Discounts and Scholarships


    Level of participant: 

    • PhD
    • Postdoc
    • Professional

    Admission requirements: 

    No particular requirements are asked. However, some background knowledge of qualitative case study methods will be helpful, including a rudimentary understanding of set-theory and of the possibilities and limits of comparative case studies.

    Admission documents: