Rival Strategies of Validation: Tools for Evaluating Measures of Democracy

Jason Seawright, David Collier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The challenge of finding appropriate tools for measurement validation is an abiding concern in political science. This article considers four traditions of validation, using examples from cross-national research on democracy: the levels-of-measurement approach, structural-equation modeling with latent variables, the pragmatic tradition, and the case-based method. Methodologists have sharply disputed the merits of alternative traditions. We encourage scholars-and certainly analysts of democracy-to pay more attention to these disputes and to consider strengths and weaknesses in the validation tools they adopt. An online appendix summarizes the evaluation of six democracy data sets from the perspective of alternative approaches to validation. The overall goal is to open a new discussion of alternative validation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-138
Number of pages28
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • case studies
  • cross-national research
  • democracy
  • level of measurement
  • measurement
  • methodology
  • multimethod
  • structural-equation modeling
  • validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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