Path: Janda: Political Parties, Home Page > Part 1: Table of Contents > Acknowledgments, p. 15
Kenneth Janda, Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey (New York: The Free Press, 1980)
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. xv-xviii), this is p. xv
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p. xv
p. xvi
p. xvii
p. xviii
(Text below as published in 1980 citation above)

ALL LARGE-SCALE DATA COLLECTION projects depend on the work of many individuals. Because of its extended duration and its heavy reliance on students--many of whom volunteered their assistance to the project when NSF support was terminated before completion--the list of those who contributed to the International Comparative Political Parties Project is exceptionally long. To give proper credit to those who worked on the project during its different phases and to the organizations that supported the research financially, I must review the history of the project to provide the setting for these acknowledgments. If I neglect mentioning anyone, it is an unfortunate oversight, which I hope will be forgiven.

This study had its genesis in a course on "political parties and elections" taught in the spring of 1962 during my first year on the faculty at Northwestern University. I thought then (and am convinced now) not only that the cross-national study of political parties was a worthy end in itself but that a proper understanding of American parties required cross-national comparisons. The class project was to gather data on some of Maurice Duverger's major concepts for political parties in countries across the world with the objective of testing his major propositions. Although the project brought forth no usable data that year, I made some improvements in our library research procedures and tried it again the following year. Working mostly with published literature, my 1963 parties class coded in full or in part some 205 parties in 55 countries. The data they produced validated several of Duverger's propositions, for example, that parties organized on a "caucus" basis are more likely than "branch-based" parties to restrict their activities to contesting elections, while disproving others.

To that point, of course, the project was solely a pedagogical exercise, but I began to see the possibilities for comparative analysis in a large-scale library research project--provided that we could have better access to and management of the library materials. My interest and activity in computer techniques of information retrieval dates from this point. For the next three years I explored the capabilities of computer processing of large amounts of textual material needed for the project I envisioned. Limitations of the computer for this purpose forced me to look at microfilm technology, which I determined was far better suited to my needs.

The Research Committee of Northwestern University granted funds in May 1965 for investigating the applications of Eastman Kodak's MIRACODE information retrieval system to my research on political parties. The initial step was the development of a set of categories for indexing the information on the parties literature to allow retrieval by the system. Those who worked on this activity over the summer of 1965 were Charles Baer, Jean Jacobsohn, Cathy Jennings, and Barbara Lewis.

Still operating with funds from the Research Committee, we tested the indexing codes in the summer of 1966 by applying them to the literature for five "test" countries--Yugoslavia, Nigeria, Norway, Japan, and Argentina, which produced 4,800 pages of material on 16mm microfilm for retrieval with the MIRACODE system. As a result of this exploratory activity, I submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation for support of a three-year study of some 250 parties in 90 countries. Assisting in the project during the summer of 1966 were Eila Sarvanto Cutler, Margaret Ferguson, Dennis Goldenson, Fred Hartwig, Roger McClure, and Gary Rader, with Susan Harding joining later in our activity.

In December 1966, the National Science Foundation granted funds for the first two years of the project (Grant GS-1418), and preparations began for indexing the literature and developing the information base for the first ten countries in the summer of 1967. Anticipating that the funds requested would not be sufficient to complete coding all 90 countries, we opted for a representative sample and selected the first ten countries at random, five from each of two of our ten cultural-geographical areas. Having decided to begin our work with African parties because of Northwestern's excellent African collection, we drew five countries from West Africa and five from Central and East Africa. A team of analysts, credited below, completed these countries on schedule in 1967.

Still supported by NSF in the summer of 1968, an expanded team of twenty analysts indexed the literature

1. Kenneth Janda, Information Retrieval: Applications in Political Science (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1968).

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