Cyber Conflict in Political Science: A Review of Methods and Literature


As cyber operations have become a central aspect of modern espionage and intelligence gathering, and now appear to serve as an important element of contemporary foreign policy, political scientists are increasingly publishing work on cyber conflict. However, this literature remains somewhat nascent, and has yet to fully tap into the potential methodological insights of political science. In this paper, we seek to systematically review all cyber conflict articles published in a top-100 political science journal between 1990-2018. We perform a bibliometric analysis, identifying key articles and thematic topics. We also perform a methodological review in an effort to understand the most widely used methods, approaches, and case studies deployed in the literature. The findings suggest that the field has perhaps focused on theoretical work at the expense of empirical work, and that cyber conflict scholarship has yet to fully draw upon the broader debates on case selection, case study research, and quantitative/qualitative work that have taken place in political methodology in the last two decades. We briefly conclude with potential future avenues of research that could help amend these challenges.

International Studies Association (Toronto, March 27-30)