What's Your Question?
What Is a Case Study?
When you’re performing research as part of your job or for a school assignment, you’ll probably come across case studies that help you to learn more about the topic at hand. But what is a case study and why are they helpful? Read on to learn all about case studies.
Deep Dive into a Topic
At face value, a case study is a deep dive into a topic. Case studies can be found in many fields, particularly across the social sciences and medicine. When you conduct a case study, you create a body of research based on an inquiry and related data from analysis of a group, individual or controlled research environment.
As a researcher, you can benefit from the analysis of case studies similar to inquiries you’re currently studying. Researchers often rely on case studies to answer questions that basic information and standard diagnostics cannot address.
Study a Pattern
One of the main objectives of a case study is to find a pattern that answers whatever the initial inquiry seeks to find. This might be a question about why college students are prone to certain eating habits or what mental health problems afflict house fire survivors. The researcher then collects data, either through observation or data research, and starts connecting the dots to find underlying behaviors or impacts of the sample group’s behavior.
During the study period, the researcher gathers evidence to back the observed patterns and future claims that’ll be derived from the data. Since case studies are usually presented in the professional environment, it’s not enough to simply have a theory and observational notes to back up a claim. Instead, the researcher must provide evidence to support the body of study and the resulting conclusions.
As the study progresses, the researcher develops a solid case to present to peers or a governing body. Case study presentation is important because it legitimizes the body of research and opens the findings to a broader analysis that may end up drawing a conclusion that’s more true to the data than what one or two researchers might establish. The presentation might be formal or casual, depending on the case study itself.
Once the body of research is established, it’s time to draw conclusions from the case study. As with all social sciences studies, conclusions from one researcher shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, but they’re helpful for advancing the body of knowledge in a given field. For that purpose, they’re an invaluable way of gathering new material and presenting ideas that others in the field can learn from and expand upon.
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- 1. What is a Case Study? Case study is a qualitative research approach in which researchers focus on a unit of study known as a bounded system.
- 2. Case Study Definitions Case study is not a methodological choice but a choice of what is to be studied. (Stake) An investigation of phenomenon that occurs within a specific context. (Miles & Huberman) Case study is a research strategy that is an all- encompassing method covering design, data collection techniques, and specific approaches to data analysis. (Yin)
- 3. Case Study is A qualitative approach to studying a phenomenon Focus on a unit of study, or a bounded system Not a methodological choice but a choice of what to study An all-encompassing research method
- 4. When to Use the Case Study Research Approach A case study research method is appropriate when the researcher wants to answer a descriptive question such as what happened? Or an explanatory question how and why did something happen?
- 5. Types of Case Study There are three types of case study commonly accepted. 1. Intrinsic Case Study 2. Single Instrumental Case Study 3. Multiple Collective Case Study
- 6. Single Case Study Also named ‘Instrumental’ case study Focuses on one issue One bounded case is used to illustrate the issue Provides insight to an issue Helps to refine a theory
- 7. Multiple Case Study Also named ‘Collective’ case study Focus on one issue or concern Illustrate the issue Explore differences within and between cases
- 8. Intrinsic Case Study Focuses on the case itself The case presents an unusual or unique situation Try to better understand the case
- 9. Characteristics of Case Study Research Particularistic Descriptive Heuristic
- 10. Particularistic Phenomenon A case study researcher may specifically choose a particular instance of phenomenon under investigation to understand a specific problem that occurs in everyday practice.
- 11. Descriptive Phenomenon Descriptive phenomenon means that the end result of the case study, the narrative, includes ‘thick description’ of the phenomenon, including many variables and analyses of the interactions.
- 12. Heuristic Phenomenon Heuristic refers to the fact that case studies ‘illuminate the readers’ understanding of the phenomenon under study’ beyond the readers’ original knowledge.
- 13. Case Study in Terms of Disciplines Anthropology History Psychology Sociology
- 14. How to Apply Case Study Research Think through the different types and purposes of case study and the origins from which each stems. This should strengthen how you justify the type you choose. Decide what kind of case study you will conduct for what purpose and what issues and questions it will help you address. Demonstrate and awareness of any potential difficulties you might encounter and how you address these in your research. Do not spend too much time arguing why you have not chosen other research approaches. This may be helpful to a degree. However, the more important point is to present a convincing argument for why case study is most appropriate for your research topic.
- 15. Designing a Case Study Research Determine the Research question Define the case under study Determine the role of theory development in case selection. Determine the theoritical and conceptual framework of the case study. Determine whether a single case study, a multiple case study or a collective case study is appropriate.
- 16. Sample Selection Qualitative Approach Purposive Sampling Viability
- 17. Screening Procedure Review documents about the proposed case study site to determine whether or not it is an appropiate choice Conduct informal interviews of key participants in the study to determine their willingness to participate in the study and to ensure that hey fully understand the nature of their commitment. Determine whether the case study participants have the necessary experience and knowledge of the phenomenon under investigation and the ability to provide information.
- 18. Data Collection Techniques Enquiring Experiencing Examining
- 19. Cross Site Analysis Strategies Unordered Meta Matrix Site Ordered Descriptive Matrix Site Ordered Predictor Outcome Matrix Time Ordered Meta Matrix Scatterplot Site Ordered Effects Matrix Causal Models
- 20. Cross Site Analysis Strategies Unordered Meta Matrix: is a data management tool that enables the case study researcher to assemble master charts with descriptive data from each site on one large sheet of paper.
- 21. Cross Site Analysis Strategies Site Ordered Descriptive Matrix: sites are ordered in a variable of interest so that the researcher can see differences.
- 22. Cross Site Analysis Strategies Site Ordered Predictor Outcome Matrix: moves the case study researcher from working descriptively/deductively to a more explanatory/interpretive mode.
- 23. Time Ordered Meta Matrix Time Ordered Meta Matrix extends the cross site data analysis to include chronology as an organizing variable.
- 24. Time Ordered Meta Matrix Time Ordered Meta Matrix
- 25. Scatterplots A scatter plot (Chambers 1983) reveals relationships or association between two variables. Such relationships manifest themselves by any non-random structure in the plot.
- 26. Cross Site Analysis Strategies Scatterplots
- 27. Cross Site Analysis Strategies Site Ordered Effects Matrix is used by case study researchers to sort through the research sites and to display probable cause and effect relations.
- 28. Cross Site Analysis Strategies Casual Models extend the case study analysis and assist the case study researcher to identify how things go together.
- 29. Strengths Case study enables the experience to be studied and interpreted in depth. Case study is flexible. Case studies are inaccessible in language, audiences directly observe events and accidents. Case study is useful for understanding and exploring the process. Case study has dynamics of change, especially in ‘real life settings’. Case study has the potential to engage participants in the study. Case study can include a range of methods, whatever is most appropriate in understanding the case. It can explain how and why things happen.
- 30. Potential Limitations The subjectivity of the researcher is an inevitable part of the frame. Audiences cannot capture the reality as lived. There are a number of ways to make inferences from a case or cases that are applicable to other contexts. The findings are dependant on that very unique subject.
- 31. Case Study Examples Genie the Feral Child https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQNBSPY4QUc
- 32. Case Study Examples Jill Price – The woman who can never forget https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoxsMMV538U
- 33. For your further studies; http://casestudyhelp.com/
- 34. References Stake, R. E. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Yin, R. K. (2003). Case study research: Design and methods (3rd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Gerring, J. (2005) Case Study Research. New York: Cambridge University Press. https://wikis.tamu.edu/download/attachments/16974757/Figure+2.png?version=1&modification Date=1289873138000 http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/334/729 https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/design/instructionalstrategies/casestudies.html http://busn8018researchblog-xwchan.blogspot.com.tr/ http://psych.answers.com/studies/famous-psychology-case-studies http://psych.answers.com/studies/famous-psychology-case-studies
- 35. Bilkent University Cirruculum and Instruction 2015 Aslı Tuğçe GÜLER
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Case study research
Case study research. Marie-Louise Barry. Use of different strategies.
- case studies
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Case study research Marie-Louise Barry
Use of different strategies
What is a case study? • It is a research strategy • Not linked to a particular type of evidence or method of data collection • Distinguishing characteristic attempts to examine: • Contemporary phenomenon in real-life context • Especially when boundaries between phenomenon context not clearly evident
What is a case study (2)? • A case study is an empirical enquiry that • Investigates contemporary phenomena in real life context • Especially when boundary between phenomenon and context not clear • A case study inquiry further • Copes with the technically distinctive situation in which there will be many more variables of interest than data points • Relies on multiple sources of evidence with data needing to converge in a triangulating fashion • Benefits from prior development of theoretical propositions to guide data collection and analysis
Qualitative vs Quantitative • Contrast between qualitative and quantitative data does not distinguish the various research strategies • It is possible to have qualitative surveys or quantitative case studies
To contribute to knowledge on phenomena of: Individual Group Organisational Social Political Domains used: Psychology Sociology Political sciences Social work Business Community planning Economics Where are case studies used?
External validity Sandura,T.A. and Williams, E.A. 2000. “Research methodology in management: Current practices, trends and implications for future research.” Academy of Management Journal, vol. 43(6), pp. 1248-1264.
Types of case studies • Illustrative – descriptive case study that makes the unfamiliar familiar • Exploratory or pilot – condensed case studies performed before implementing large scale investigation • Cumulative – Aggregate information from several sites collected at different times • Critical instance – examine one or more sites for purpose of examining a situation of unique interest
Design case study Prepare for data collection Conduct case study Collect case study evidence Analyse case study evidence Report case study Case study high level methodology
Design case study Design case study Prepare for data collection Conduct case study Collect case study evidence Analyse case study evidence Report case study
Research design • Research design is the logic that links the data to be collected (and the conclusions to be drawn) to the initial questions of the study Research design Initial question(s) Data to be collected
Validity and Validity and Delphi study Theory Practical application of Practical application of Factors Factors Factors Blueprint Blueprint What are the questions? What are the questions? What are relevant data? What are relevant data? What data to collect? What data to collect? How to analyse results? How to analyse results? Definition of research design Case study
Components of Research designs • Research question • How and why • Propositions if any • Propositions are required to keep the study in feasible limits • Hypothetical story about why acts, events, structure and thoughts occur • “Theory of the study” • Units of analysis • Look at previous studies • Depends on accuracy of research question • Logic linking data to propositions and criteria for interpreting findings • Eg pattern matching What is to be explored? Purpose of exploration Criteria by which exploration judged successful
Types of theories for research design • Individual theories • Group theories • Organisational theories • Societal theories • Decision making theory • Substantive theory • Make sure that you are testing the correct type of theory
Two types of generalisation • Statistical generalisation • Inference made about a population • On basis of empirical data collected • About a sample • Analytic generalisation • Previously developed theory • Used as a template • To compare empirical results of the case study • If two or more cases support the theory – replication can be claimed • Even more potent if the two or more cases do not support a rival theory
Quality of case study research • Four criteria: • Construct validity – establishing correct operational measures for concepts being studied • Internal validity – establishing causal relationship whereby certain conditions are shown to lead to other conditions • External validity – establishing domain to which a study’s findings can be generalised • Reliability – demonstrating that operations of a study, such as data collection can be repeated with same results
Quality tests in case studies
To improve validity and reliability • Prolong data gathering process to ensure accurate findings • Employ triangulation by using a variety of data • Conduct member checks by corroborating on interpretation of data with those who provided data • Collect referential materials (literature survey) • Engage in peer consultation to establish validity through pooled judgement
Single Multiple Single Holistic Case study design Multiple Holistic Case study design Holistic Single unit of analysis Single Embedded Case study design Multiple Embedded Case study design Embedded Multiple units of analysis Types of case study designs
Holistic One unit of analysis Use where: no logical subunits can be identified when relevant theory of holistic nature Problems: Global approach avoids examining specific phenomena in operational detail Entire case study at abstract level Nature of case study may shift and research question not addressed Embedded More than one unit of analysis Subunits add significant opportunities for extensive analysis Important device for focussing a case study Problems: Can focus only at subunit level Fails to return larger unit of analysis Holistic vs embedded case studies
Single case studies For specific types of case study Rational for single case study designs cannot be satisfied by multiple cases Multiple case studies Evidence from multiple case studies often considered more compelling – overall study regarded as more robust Requires extensive resources and time Single vs Multiple case studies
CONTEXT Case Single holistic case study • Critical case – when testing well-formulated theory • Extreme or unique case • Representative or typical case • Revelatory case – investigation of phenomenon previously inaccessible to scientific investigation • Longitudinal case study – studying the same case at different points in time
Same types of cases as holistic Attention also given to subunit or subunits EG Case – evaluation of a programme Embedded units – projects in the programme CONTEXT Case Embedded unit of analysis 1 Embedded unit of analysis n Single embedded case study design
Same as for multiple experiments Literal replication – predicts similar results Theoretical replication – predicts contrasting results for predictable reasons Not the same as sampling logic as for surveys Case studies not the best method for determining prevalence of phenomena Case study covers both phenomena of interest and context – large number of relevant variables which would require an impossibly large number of cases If cases studies had to follow sample logic some important topics could not be empirically investigated Replication not sample logic for multiple case studies
More than one case Only one unit of analysis Multiple holistic case study design
Multiple cases More than one unit of analysis under study Multiple embedded case study design
Define and design Select cases Develop theory Design data Collection protocol Draw cross--case conclusions Prepare, collect and analyse Modify theory Conduct Case study 1 Write individual Case study 1 report Develop policy implications Write individual Case study n report Conduct Case study n Write cross-case Study report Analyse and conclude Multiple case study method
Number of case studies • Sampling logic criteria regarding sample size not applicable • Number of literal replications depends on: • Certainty you want about result • Degree of differences in rival theories • Number of theoretical replications depends on: • Sense of complexity of external validity • The less variation produced in phenomena being studied by external conditions the fewer case studies required.
Selecting case study designs • Multiple case study designs preferred over single case study designs: • Analytic benefits to multiple case studies • Possibility of direct replication • Contexts will most probably differ and if a common conclusion can be reach this means the results are more generalisable
Five misunderstandings of case study research Flyberg, B, 2006. Five Misunderstandings About Case Study Research. Qualitative Inquiry, 12 (2) 219-245.
Designing case study research Phase 1: Objectives Design Structure Phase 2: Execute study according to design Phase 3: Analyse findings
Phase 1: Research design Specification of problem & research objective Developing a research strategy: Specification of variables Case selection Describing the variance in variables Formulation of data requirements & general questions
The research problem • Well informed assessment • Defines the gaps in current state of knowledge • Acknowledges contradictory theory • Notes inadequacies in evidence for existing theories
Theory building research objectives • A theoretical/ configurative idiographic case studies. These studies do not directly contribute to theory but provide good descriptions for use in subsequent theory building research. • Disciplined configurative case studies. These studies use existing theory to explain a case by testing theory. • Heuristic case studies. These studies are used to identify new variables, hypotheses, causal mechanisms and causal paths. • Theory testing case studies. These studies are used to test the validity and scope conditions of single or competing theories. • Plausibility probes. These studies are used to test untested theories and hypotheses to determine whether more in depth testing is warranted. • Building block studies. These are single case studies or multiple case studies with no variance which can be used as parts of larger contingent generalisations and typological studies.
Prepare for data collection Design case study Prepare for data collection Conduct case study Collect case study evidence Analyse case study evidence Report case study
Prepare for conducting the case study
Researcher skills • Continued interaction between theoretical issues and data being collected • Skills required: • Ask good questions • Be a good listener • Be adaptive and flexible • Have firm grasp of issues being studied • Unbiased by preconceived notions
Training for the case study • If more than one researcher • Needs to know: • Why the study is being done • What evidence is being sought • What variations can be anticipated and how to handle variations • What constitutes supportive or contradictory evidence
Case study protocol • Major way of increasing case study reliability • Essential in multiple case studies • Contains the instrument (questionnaire) as well as the procedure
Overview of case study Project objectives Case study issues Relevant readings on the topic Field procedures Presentation of credentials Access to case study sites General sources of information Procedural reminders Case study questions Specific questions Table shells for arrays of data Potential sources of information for questions Guide for the case study report Outline Format for data Use and presentation of other documentation Bibliographical information Sections of a case study protocol
Unique case? YES Define criteria Collect preliminary data NO Access to specific case(s)? YES Collect quantitative data Define operational criteria NO More than 30 cases? Select 20 to 30 cases YES Select random cases NO Proceed with case study Screening of cases
Conduct pilot • Selection of pilot cases: • Convenience, access (personal contact) and geographical proximity • Nature of pilot • Broader and less focussed than ultimate plan • Can cover both substantive and methodological issues • Reports from pilot cases • Mainly of value to investigators • Explicit about lessons learned from pilot case
Collect case study evidence Design case study Prepare for data collection Conduct case study Collect case study evidence Analyse case study evidence Report case study
Six sources of evidence
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Lesson 3 - Sociological Research Methods
This paper examines the relationship between qualitative research and public policy. For decades, qualitative and quantitative methodologists have debated the merits of one perspective in relation to others. Scholars, using diverse epistemological and ontological stances, have contested different beliefs about the criteria for judgment of rigorous research. Yet, such exchanges routinely ignore the unique ways in which qualitative research can inform policy. In this paper, the authors acknowledge previous examinations, and also intend to create a new discourse. The authors present the limitations of qualitative research; these limitations have historically been the justifications used by individuals to discount the use of qualitative research for policy studies. They conclude with the need to refocus on the usefulness of qualitative research and offer an evolving set of criteria for conducting policy-related research. The purpose is neither to oppose nor to diminish select methodologies; instead, it is to suggest a complimentary suite of qualitative and quantitative approaches to better investigate social issues.
Research methods in the social sciences
Research methods in the social …
Method. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.———.(2000). Fuzzy Set Social Science. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Ragin, Charles C. and Howard Becker, eds.(1992). What Is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Savolainen, Jukka.(1994).“The Rationality of Drawing Big Conclusions Based on Small Samples: In Defense of Mill's Methods.” Social Forces 72 (2), 1217–1224. Stinchcombe, Arthur.(1968). Constructing Social Theories.
Program of the 2nd International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry
David W Stinson
CITATION: Stinson, D. W. (2006). In search of defining (?) researcher ethics [Abstract]. Program of the 2nd International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, Urbana-Champaign, IL, 379.
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Ch. 2 Sociological Investigation
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Introduction to Psychology
Sociology, 12 th Edition by John Macionis Copyright 2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved. Sociological Investigation.
Chapter Two Sociological Investigation
A logical system that derives knowledge From direct, systematic observation.
Copyright © 2005 Pearson Education Canada Inc. 1 Psychology as a Science Theory development involves collecting interrelated ideas and observations Taken.
Copyright © 2009 Pearson Education Canada2-1 Chapter 2: Child Development 2.1 Doing Child-Development Research 2.2 Child-Development Research and Family.
Introduction to Research
Sociological Research Chapter Two. Copyright © 2004 by Nelson, a division of Thomson Canada Outline Why is Sociological Research Necessary? The Sociological.
Sabine Mendes Lima Moura Issues in Research Methodology PUC – November 2014.
Formulating the research design
Social Research Methods
(Business Research Methods)
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Society: the Basics Chapter 1.
McGraw-Hill © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. The Nature of Research Chapter One.
Sociological Research Methods and Techniques
What research is Noun: The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions. Verb:
Sociological Research. 1. Why is sociological research so important? It is how sociologists obtain their knowledge of human behaviour It allows sociologists.
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