Teaching with our book

We could only write our book because we have taught quantitative methods (mostly to historians, also to other humanists and social scientists) for more than 15 years. In France as elsewhere, however, there are few courses specifically aimed at historians or humanists – or they only address specific methods (GIS, network analysis, text analysis, etc.) and seldom discuss inputting and categorizing data. Therefore, our first intention when we wrote the initial, French version of the book in 2007 was to offer a self-help handbook: something that beginning graduate students (and any person beginning a research) could use to learn the basics on their own; the book and the companion website would point them to further readings and tutorials. The English book of 2019 can be used in the same way (here are some ways to read it on your own, depending on your needs).

If, however, you are teaching quantitative history, or digital humanities, or methods generally, and you want to devote at least a few lessons to the contents of our book, this post will give you a general idea of our own teaching formats. We are very willing to discuss ways to teach quantitative methods to diverse audiences (in comments here, over e-mail, in conferences, etc.). Continue reading “Teaching with our book”

Factor analysis

Factor analysis is addressed in our Chapter 4. Factor analysis graphs may look strange; it certainly takes some time to learn how to read them (to that effect, you should re-read our chapter and look into our suggestions for further reading). Still, many historians want to use factor analysis, once they have understood that it is an exploratory method that allows them to get a general idea of “everything that is in their dataset,” and to create typologies. (Perhaps this is also true in other disciplines, but the words “exploratory”, “having a look at everything at once,” and “typology” seem to have a special appeal for historians – ourselves included)

Continue reading “Factor analysis”