This module describes the case study method of descriptive research and its uses. List reasons researchers use the case study method Explain the how data is recorded when using the case study method. Describe the benefits and limitations of using the case study method.
Case studies emphasize detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their relationships.
Researchers have used the case study research method for many years across a variety of disciplines. Social scientists, in particular, have made wide use of this qualitative research method to examine contemporary real-life situations and provide the basis for the application of ideas and extension of methods.
Yin defines the case study research method as an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context; when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident; and in which multiple sources of evidence are used Yin,p.
Critics of the case study method believe that the study of a small number of cases can offer no grounds for establishing reliability or generality of findings.
Others feel that the intense exposure to study of the case biases the findings. Some dismiss case study research as useful only as an exploratory tool. Yet researchers continue to use the case study research method with success in carefully planned and crafted studies of real-life situations, issues, and problems.
Reports on case studies from many disciplines are widely available in the literature. This paper explains how to use the case study method and then applies the method to an example case study project designed to examine how one set of users, non-profit organizations, make use of an electronic community network.
The study examines the issue of whether or not the electronic community network is beneficial in some way to non-profit organizations and what those benefits might be. Many well-known case study researchers such as Robert E.
Stake, Helen Simons, and Robert K. Yin have written about case study research and suggested techniques for organizing and conducting the research successfully.
This introduction to case study research draws upon their work and proposes six steps that should be used: Determine and define the research questions Select the cases and determine data gathering and analysis techniques Prepare to collect the data Collect data in the field Evaluate and analyze the data Prepare the report Step 1.
Determine and Define the Research Questions The first step in case study research is to establish a firm research focus to which the researcher can refer over the course of study of a complex phenomenon or object.
The researcher establishes the focus of the study by forming questions about the situation or problem to be studied and determining a purpose for the study.
The research object in a case study is often a program, an entity, a person, or a group of people. Each object is likely to be intricately connected to political, social, historical, and personal issues, providing wide ranging possibilities for questions and adding complexity to the case study.
The researcher investigates the object of the case study in depth using a variety of data gathering methods to produce evidence that leads to understanding of the case and answers the research questions.
Case study research generally answers one or more questions which begin with "how" or "why. To assist in targeting and formulating the questions, researchers conduct a literature review. This review establishes what research has been previously conducted and leads to refined, insightful questions about the problem.
Careful definition of the questions at the start pinpoints where to look for evidence and helps determine the methods of analysis to be used in the study. The literature review, definition of the purpose of the case study, and early determination of the potential audience for the final report guide how the study will be designed, conducted, and publicly reported.
Select the Cases and Determine Data Gathering and Analysis Techniques During the design phase of case study research, the researcher determines what approaches to use in selecting single or multiple real-life cases to examine in depth and which instruments and data gathering approaches to use.
When using multiple cases, each case is treated as a single case.In the social sciences and life sciences, a case study is a research method involving an up-close, in-depth, and detailed examination of a subject of study (the case), as .
the case study method favors the collection of data in natural settings, compared with relying on “derived” data (Bromley, , p.
23)—for example, responses to a researcher’s instruments in an experiment or responses to questionnaires in a survey. Advantages of case study method include data collection and analysis within the context of phenomenon, integration of qualitative and quantitative data in data analysis, and the ability to capture complexities of real-life situations so that the phenomenon can be studied in greater levels of depth.
Once the question has been identified and the basic type of case study method has been selected, the researcher will need to begin designing their case study approach. In order to obtain a full and detailed picture of the participant or small group, the researcher can .
The case method is a teaching approach that uses decision-forcing cases to put students in the role of people who were faced with difficult decisions at some point in the past.
It developed during the course of the twentieth-century from its origins in the casebook method of teaching law pioneered by Harvard legal scholar Christopher C. Langdell. case study as a research method 2 investigate contemporary real-life phenomenon through detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of .