First Article Evaluation

The journal article you will evaluate for the first article evaluation is Jason Lyall’s “Does indiscriminate violence incite insurgent attacks? Evidence from Chechnya.”  Download Jason Lyall’s “Does indiscriminate violence incite insurgent attacks? Evidence from Chechnya.”This article is a serious political science research report, so give yourself plenty of time to look into it. Please keep in mind, however, that you are only answering questions involving the skills and concepts discussed in our first few weeks. That means you are not evaluating the article as a whole, and there are many parts of the article that will not be required for your tasks.
Evaluate Lyall  Download  Lyallby answering the following questions and explain and support each answer. (Keep in mind that you’ll need to show that you can apply the methodological concept or issue to this article. Don’t just give a yes or no answer; give the reader a reason to share your judgment.)
Does the researcher clearly specify the main research question? What is it?

Question 2
Has the researcher proposed theoretical explanations for the political phenomena that interest him? Explain, briefly summarizing these explanations. Are these explanations logically sound, parsimonious, and general? (Make sure that you apply each of these three criteria explicitly and concretely.) Does he discuss any rival explanations? If so, what are they? For extra credit, can you think of likely explanations he may have overlooked and should also be testing?

Question 3
Does the researcher specify a hypothesis or hypotheses? Do these hypotheses follow logically from the theoretical explanations? If he does not make these hypotheses explicit, what would you infer the hypotheses to be, based on the theoretical explanations? (Please consult the readings to remind yourself what a hypothesis, and do not confuse it with–for example–the causal mechanisms within the theory itself.) Are the independent and dependent variables identified? If so, what are they? If not, what would you infer them to be?

Question 4
Has the researcher chosen an appropriate unit of analysis, given his research question and purposes? What is the unit of analysis? Is it clearly identified and consistently used throughout the assigned pages of the research report? (Here make sure to consider the conclusion of the report as well.)

Question 5
In order to answer the following questions, you’ll need to explicitly evaluate the actual measures for the dependent variable, the independent variable, and one (your choice) of the variables Lyall calls “confounding variables.” For each of those three variables, separately answer the following questions: Has the researcher chosen a valid measure, a measure that should correspond to the variable it is intended to reflect? Do you see any threat to the reliability of the measure? (Your answers should reflect your understanding of and ability to apply these two distinct concepts, validity and reliability.) If there are validity and reliability problems, does the researcher recognize and adjust for them? After discussing validity and reliability problems with each of those three variables, answer this question:  Are these measurement procedures specified in sufficient detail that others can replicate them? As in all the other questions, make sure to explain all parts of your answer. (Make sure that your answer to this question addresses only measurement issues.)

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