CSRC Working Paper 50

Force and Ambiguity: evaluating sources for cross-national research - the case of military interventions
Working Paper No : 50 (series 2)
Author(s) : Francisco Gutierrez Sanin and Andrea Gonzalez Pena
Date : June 2009

This paper discusses the analytical problems associated with the increasing use of numerical databases in quantitative cross-national research. The authors highlight the need for a better understanding of the way these databases are constructed and their inherent ambiguities and they examine the existing critical literature. The paper makes a case study of data on military interventions and analyses the problems of classification that the authors identified in several well-known databases. The paper concludes that more attention should be given to modelling uncertainty rather than attempting to achieve clear-cut precision.