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Case Study Research Design

Limitations of Case Studies

❶Clarity in this alignment is fundamental to ensuring the veracity of the research and depends on the design developed. It is always a good idea to assume that a person reading your research may not possess a lot of knowledge of the subject so try to write accordingly.

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Strengths of Case Studies
The Case Study as a Research Method

These attributes are commonly exemplified in case study research. Like other forms of qualitative research, the researcher will seek to explore, understand and present the participants' perspectives and get close to them in their natural setting CRESWELL, Interaction between participants and the researcher is required to generate data, which is an indication of the researcher's level of connection to and being immersed in the field.

Because of this, constructivism and interpretivism commonly permeate the implementation of this research design.

The researcher's perceptions and interpretations become part of the research and as a result, a subjective and interpretive orientation flows throughout the inquiry CRESWELL, In choosing a methodological position, careful consideration of the different case study approaches is required to determine the design that best addresses the aim of the study, and that aligns with the researcher's worldview.

Examples are provided of how these researchers' philosophical orientation influences the application of case study in practice. YIN conceptualizes case study research as a form of social science. Post-positivism is evident in how he defines "case study as a form of empirical inquiry" p. YIN himself describes his approach to case study as using a "realist perspective" p. The goal of a postpositivist researcher is to use science as a way to apprehend the nature of reality while understanding that all measurement is imperfect.

Therefore, emphasis is placed on using multiple methods with triangulation to circumvent errors and understand what is happening in reality as close as possible to the "truth" LINCOLN et al. The researcher will often categorize qualitative data to create quantitative data that can then be analyzed using statistical methods.

Validity of research results are verified through the scrutiny of others and, as such, adherence to mechanisms that ensure rigor in data collection and analysis is vital. Furthermore, postpositivists accept that everyone is inherently biased in worldviews, which ultimately influence how the methods used are deployed.

Interaction with research subjects therefore needs to be minimized and subjectivity managed to avoid biasing the results ibid.

Embedded within YIN's case study design are the hallmarks of a postpositivist approach to research: While objectivity is a goal, YIN also recognizes the descriptive and interpretive elements of case study. According to YIN what makes case study research distinct from experimental studies is the case study is investigated in context, examined in its "real world setting" p.

Selection of cases is based on the purpose of the research and related to the theoretical propositions about the topic of interest. YIN suggests careful screening in the selection of cases to ensure specific relevance to the issues of interest and the use of replication logic: Precision, process, and practicality are core attributes of YIN's approach to case study. Design features are sequentially structured and motivated by empirical application. This positioning reflects the axiology of postpositivism where maintaining intellectual honesty, managing bias, and acknowledging limitations, coupled with meticulous data collection and accurate reporting are critical elements in the conduct of research KILLAM, ; YIN, MERRIAM maintains a constructivist approach to case study research, whereby the researcher assumes that reality is constructed intersubjectively through meanings and understandings developed socially and experientially.

Like YIN , MERRIAM , asserts that when information is plentiful and concepts abstract, it is important to utilize processes that help interpret, sort, and manage information and that adapt findings to convey clarity and applicability to the results.

MERRIAM acknowledges case study research can use both quantitative and qualitative methods; however, when working on qualitative case studies, methods aimed at generating inductive reasoning and interpretation rather than testing hypothesis take priority. Cases are selected based on the research purpose and question, and for what they could reveal about the phenomenon or topic of interest. Interviews are the most common form of qualitative data collection, although MERRIAM does not stipulate prioritizing a particular method for data collection or analysis, she does emphasize the importance of rigorous procedures to frame the research process.

Advocating for careful planning, development, and execution of case study research, MERRIAM , discusses the pragmatic structures that ensure case study research is manageable, rigorous, credible, and applicable. Processes such as descriptive, thematic and content analysis, and triangulation are significant in ensuring the quality of a study, therefore, methods of data collection and analysis need to be organized and systematized with a detailed chain of evidence MERRIAM, According to BROWN , Merriam's style brings forth a practical application of pluralistic strategies that guide pragmatic constructivist research to derive knowledge about an area of inquiry.

STAKE , has an approach to case study research that is qualitative and closely aligned with a constructivist and interpretivist orientation. While having a disciplined approach to the process and acknowledging that case study can use quantitative methods, STAKE's approach is underpinned by a strong motivation for discovering meaning and understanding of experiences in context. The role of the researcher in producing this knowledge is critical, and STAKE emphasizes the researcher's interpretive role as essential in the process.

An interpretative position views reality as multiple and subjective, based on meanings and understanding. Knowledge generated from the research process is relative to the time and context of the study and the researcher is interactive and participates in the study.

In terms of epistemology, STAKE argues that situation shapes activity, experience, and one's interpretation of the case. For STAKE , to understand the case "requires experiencing the activity of the case as it occurs in its context and in its particular situation" p.

The researcher attempts to capture her or his interpreted reality of the case, while studying the case situationally enables an examination of the integrated system in which the case unfolds. A case is selected because it is interesting in itself or can facilitate the understanding of something else; it is instrumental in providing insight on an issue STAKE, For STAKE, multiple sources and methods of data collection and analysis can be used, however, interviews and observations are the preferred and dominant data collection method.

In seeking understanding and meaning, the researcher is positioned with participants as a partner in the discovery and generation of knowledge, where both direct interpretations, and categorical or thematic grouping of findings are used. STAKE recommends vignettes—episodes of storytelling—to illustrate aspects of the case and thick descriptions to convey findings, a further illustration of his constructivist and interpretivist approach to case study research.

BROWN suggests the three approaches used by these seminal researchers rest along a quantitative-qualitative continuum where the postpositivist methodology of YIN sits at one end, STAKE's interpretivist design , sits at the other end and MERRIAM , who as a pragmatic constructivist draws on the elements of both, rests toward the center. BROWN sums up the influences of each, saying that "case study research is supported by the pragmatic approach of Merriam, informed by the rigour of Yin and enriched by the creative interpretation described by Stake" p.

While some may argue that mixing qualitative and quantitative methods could threaten the veracity of the research BOBLIN et al. Despite variation in the approaches of the different exponents of case study, there are characteristics common to all of them. Defining the case unit of analysis or object of the study and bounding the case can be difficult as many points of interest and variables intersect and overlap in case study research. Bounding the case is essential to focusing, framing, and managing data collection and analysis.

How the methods are used will vary and depend on the research purpose and design, which is often a variation of a single or multiple case study research design. Interviews and focus groups, observations, and exploring artifacts are most commonly employed to collect and generate data with triangulation of methods and data, however, this is not exclusive.

These elements delineate case study from other forms of research and inform the critical aspects of the research design and execution.

Object of the case study identified as the entity of interest or unit of analysis. Program, individual, group, social situation, organization, event, phenomena, or process. Subjectivity a consistent thread—varies in depth and engagement depending on the philosophical orientation of the research, purpose, and methods. Methods of data collection: Case study elements and descriptors [ 31 ]. As discussed earlier, ensuring the alignment of philosophy and methodology with the research purpose and methods employed underpins a rigorous research process STEWART, Clarity in this alignment is fundamental to ensuring the veracity of the research and depends on the design developed.

During this process, researchers are encouraged to "logically justify their philosophical position, research design and include a coherent argument for inclusion of varying research methods" LUCK et al.

Collective alignment of these elements articulates a justifiable framework for the research study and cultivates trustworthiness and the validity, reliability and credibility of the research findings. The authors describe case study as "a methodology, a type of design in qualitative research, an object of study and a product of the inquiry" p.

For example, statistical analysis may have shown that birthrates in African countries are increasing. A case study on one or two specific countries becomes a powerful and focused tool for determining the social and economic pressures driving this. In the design of a case study, it is important to plan and design how you are going to address the study and make sure that all collected data is relevant.

Unlike a scientific report, there is no strict set of rules so the most important part is making sure that the study is focused and concise; otherwise you will end up having to wade through a lot of irrelevant information. It is best if you make yourself a short list of 4 or 5 bullet points that you are going to try and address during the study. If you make sure that all research refers back to these then you will not be far wrong.

With a case study, even more than a questionnaire or survey , it is important to be passive in your research.

You are much more of an observer than an experimenter and you must remember that, even in a multi-subject case, each case must be treated individually and then cross case conclusions can be drawn. Analyzing results for a case study tends to be more opinion based than statistical methods. The usual idea is to try and collate your data into a manageable form and construct a narrative around it. Use examples in your narrative whilst keeping things concise and interesting.

It is useful to show some numerical data but remember that you are only trying to judge trends and not analyze every last piece of data. Constantly refer back to your bullet points so that you do not lose focus.

It is always a good idea to assume that a person reading your research may not possess a lot of knowledge of the subject so try to write accordingly.

In addition, unlike a scientific study which deals with facts, a case study is based on opinion and is very much designed to provoke reasoned debate. There really is no right or wrong answer in a case study. Check out our quiz-page with tests about:.

Martyn Shuttleworth Apr 1, Case Study Research Design. Retrieved Sep 11, from Explorable. The text in this article is licensed under the Creative Commons-License Attribution 4.

You can use it freely with some kind of link , and we're also okay with people reprinting in publications like books, blogs, newsletters, course-material, papers, wikipedia and presentations with clear attribution. Get all these articles in 1 guide Want the full version to study at home, take to school or just scribble on?

Case studies are often conducted in clinical medicine and involve collecting and reporting descriptive information about a particular person or specific environment, such as a school. In psychology, case studies are often confined to the study of a particular individual.

The information is mainly biographical and relates to events in the individual's past i. In order to produce a fairly detailed and comprehensive profile of the person, the psychologist may use various types of accessible data, such as medical records, employer's reports, school reports or psychological test results.

The interview is also an extremely effective procedure for obtaining information about an individual, and it may be used to collect comments from the person's friends, parents, employer, work mates and others who have a good knowledge of the person, as well as to obtain facts from the person him or herself. This makes it clear that the case study is a method that should only be used by a psychologist, therapist or psychiatrist, i.

There is an ethical issue of competence. Only someone qualified to diagnose and treat a person can conduct a formal case study relating to atypical i. The procedure used in a case study means that the researcher provides a description of the behavior.

This comes from interviews and other sources, such as observation. The client also reports detail of events from his or her point of view. The researcher then writes up the information from both sources above as the case study, and interprets the information. Interpreting the information means the researcher decides what to include or leave out.

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The Case Study as a Research Method Uses and Users of Information -- LIS D.1 -- Spring Introduction Case study research excels at bringing us to an understanding of a complex issue or object and can extend experience or add strength to what is already known through previous research.

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Case studies is a popular research method in business area. Case studies aim to analyze specific issues within the boundaries of a specific environment.

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case study as a research method 2 investigate contemporary real-life phenomenon through detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions, and their relationships. What is a Case Study? Basically, a case study is an in depth study of a particular situation rather than a sweeping statistical is a method used to narrow down a very broad field of research into one easily researchable topic.

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MERRIAM () acknowledges case study research can use both quantitative and qualitative methods; however, when working on qualitative case studies, methods aimed at generating inductive reasoning and interpretation rather than testing hypothesis take priority. 3 A (VERY) BRIEF REFRESHER ON THE CASE STUDY METHOD The case study method embraces the full set of procedures needed to do case study research. These tasks include designing a case study, collecting the study’s data, ana-.