An Introduction to Applied Data Analysis with Qualitative Comparative Analysis

This article by Nicolas Legewie provides an introduction to Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). It discusses the method's main principles and advantages including its concepts.  It then goes on to discuss using the main analytical tools and how to analyse their output. Finally, the article demonstrates how to use QCA results to inform data analysis.


"The central goal of QCA is an exhaustive explanation of the phenomenon under investigation. Using QCA, researchers ask questions such as: Is factor X a causal condition for a given phenomenon or event Y? What are combinations of conditions that produce a given phenomenon or event? What groups of cases share a given combination of conditions? That is, QCA's main focus is to explain how a certain outcome is produced; this focus is in contrast to the goal of most regression type analyses, which ask what influence a given causal factor has on some variable net other causal factors (GEORGE & BENNETT, 2005, p.25; MAHONEY & GOERTZ, 2006, p.229; RIHOUX, 2009a, p.379)."


  • QCA: Main Principles and Advantages
    • Main principles: What is QCA, and how can it be used?
    • Advantages of using QCA
  • Concepts
    • Fuzzy sets and necessity and sufficiency
    • Parameters of fit in QCA: Consistency and coverage
    • Representing cases as configurations of conditions: Truth tables and limited diversity
    • Boolean minimization and simplifying assumptions
    • Complex, parsimonious, and intermediate solutions
  • Analytic Tools of QCA and their Applications
    • Exploring the data set
    • Analysis of necessity
    • Truth table analysis
    • Selecting prime implicants
  • Incorporating QCA Results in Data Analysis
    • Reassessing cases
    • Reassessing recipes
    • Reassessing single conditions
  • Appendix 1: How to Use Fs/QCA: An Introduction to Software-Supported QCA
  • Appendix 2: List of References for Further Consultation
  • Appendix 3: Online Resources


Legewie, Nicolas (2013). An Introduction to Applied Data Analysis with Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) [88 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14(3), Art. 15,

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