When the editors of the Strategies for Social Inquiry Series at Cambridge University Press first approached us to write a book on process tracing, our response was “yes, but …” That is, we absolutely agreed there was a need for such a book, but, at the same time, we were leery – hence that “but” – of writing a standard methods text. Of course, process tracing is a method, so there was no getting around writing a methodology book.
Yet, from our own experience – be it working with Ph.D. students, reviewing manuscripts and journal articles, or giving seminars – we sensed a need, indeed a hunger, for a slightly different book, one that showed, in a grounded, operational way, how to do process tracing well. After discussions (and negotiations!) with the series editors, the result is the volume before you. We view it as an applied methods book, where the aim is to show how process tracing works in practice, using and critiquing prominent research examples from several subfields and research programs within political science. If the last fifteen years have seen the publication of key texts setting the state of the art for case studies, then our volume is a logical follow-on, providing clear guidance for what is perhaps the central within-case method – process tracing.