International Comparative Social Research


“Comparative projects do not differ in their logic from research undertaken within
a country” (Teichler 1996)

“The principles to be applied in any good research design – validity, reliability and plausibility – are more difficult to achieve in international comparative research” (Hantrais 2009)

Aim of the Project

International comparative research represents an approach and research design that bridges and crosses disciplinary boundaries in the social sciences. Its importance has been constantly growing within social science disciplines and in interdisciplinary research fields. Empirical research is often not only internationally comparative, but is conducted in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary settings and teams. What is missing are instructions and a cross-disciplinary body of knowledge regarding the theoretical and methodological specificities of international comparative research:

  • Theoretical and methodological reflections and debates mostly take place within social science disciplines and fields and rarely across them.
  • Not all aspects of international comparative research designs are equally reflected. The research practice, and the management of international research projects, are often omitted.

Thus, the intention behind our project is to develop a meta-analysis of and reflection on the state of the art of international comparative research theory; methodology and practice; and the management of international research projects in different social science disciplines. The innovative aspect of our project is that it brings together, analyses and advances existing knowledge concerning the theory, methodology and practice of international comparative research.

Our goal is to provide this knowledge – particularly for early career researchers and experienced scholars new to international comparative research – through an overarching systematic that we have developed. At the same time, we are working towards closing gaps in the existing theoretical and methodological research with our own contributions.

Research Dimensions

Figure Research Dimensions, Dr. Romy Wöhlert 2016

Guiding Questions of the Project

The following five questions guide our research and reflection:

  • Why do we compare?
  • What to we compare?
  • How do we compare?
  • How comparable are the results?
  • How do we coordinate and collaborate?