Process tracing: Introduction and exercises

This document provides an overview of the method of process tracing and a series of examples and exercises to aid in its teaching .


"Process tracing examines diagnostic pieces of evidence—often understood as part of a temporal sequence of events or phenomena—with the goal of achieving and refining causal inference. Process tracing tests are seen as having distinctive probative value in supporting or overturning explanatory hypotheses, and these tests are a fundamental tool in qualitative research. In addition, given the close  engagement with cases and fine-grained case knowledge that are central to process tracing, this procedure enriches description and thereby contributes to descriptive inference as well."

Source: Collier 2010 p2.


  • Introduction
  • Bridging Three Perspectives
  • Process Tracing
  • Causal Sequence Framework: Situating the Process-Tracing Tests 
  • Exercises
  • Bibliography 
  • Sherlock Holmes Story, “The Adventure of Silver Blaze”



Collier, D (2010) Process Tracing: Introduction and Exercises, Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved February 2015 from 

University of California, Berkeley 


'Process tracing: Introduction and exercises' is referenced in: