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Rising Standards

The third Necessary Condition Analysis (NCA) Paper Development Workshop shows that quality standards are on the rise.

Steps going up
By Stefan Breet
December 11, 2023

It is great to see the development of something you believe in and have spent a lot of time on. The Necessary Condition Analysis (NCA) Paper Development Workshop 2023—which took place on Monday—brought together researchers and NCA experts to improve the application of NCA in scientific articles. I have been closely involved with the development of Necessary Condition Analysis (NCA) since 2017, a methodology that allows us to identify necessary conditions in datasets. This year’s workshop revolved around NCA’s methodological quality standards, and it was great to see that higher standards are becoming the norm among researchers in the social sciences.

Increasing popularity, increasing standards

The workshop started with a presentation by professor Jan Dul in which he discussed the current state of NCA research. With the increasing popularity of NCA, the standards NCA studies need to meet are also increasing. Professor Dul identified five common pitfalls that can—and should be—avoided by authors of NCA studies:

  1. The authors do not provide a theoretical justification of the (tested or explored) necessity hypothesis.
  2. The authors do not show the scatter plots of all the relationships that they tested for necessity.
  3. The authors do not interpret the bottleneck table.
  4. The authors do not conduct a robustness check.
  5. The authors do report the NCA results in accordance with basic reporting guidelines.

Ways to avoid these pitfalls are described in the online book Advances in Necessary Condition Analysis.

Roundtable Discussions

In the second part of the workshop, we discussed the papers of the workshop participants in two discussion groups. One discussion was led by Nicole Franziska Richter, Professor of International Business at the University of Southern Denmark. The other discussion was led by me.

Encouragement Award

As per tradition, we concluded the workshop with the announcement of the Encouragement Award winner. The prize is awarded to recognize the potential of an early-stage paper and inspire its further development.

The winner of this year’s award is Dr. Ricardo E. Buitrago R., who submitted a paper in which he examines the institutional determinants of outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) in 48 emerging economies during 2007-2021. He uses NCA to highlight bottlenecks constraining internationalization.

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