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The case study as a research method

  • 19.02.2019
The case study as a research method

Researchers are able to study and analyze situations, events and behaviors that could be created in a laboratory setting. Disadvantages: The uniqueness of the data usually means that it is not able to be replicated. Case studies have some level of subjectivity and researcher bias may be a problem.

Because of the in-depth nature of the data, it is not possible to conduct the research on a large scale. There are concerns about the reliability, validity and generalizability of the results.

The Resource Links on this page provide a more comprehensive and detailed discussion regarding the types of case study methods, data collection methods and data analysis methods. In summary, the following video, Case Study, reviews the case study methodology and discusses several types of case study methods. Bernard, H. Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Burt, C. Research in education. Creswell, J. Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches.

Sage publications. Gomm, R. Case study method: Key issues, key texts. Knupfer, N. Descriptive research methodologies. Similar to STAKE , , MERRIAM , was not as structured in her approach as YIN , but promoted the use of a theoretical framework or research questions to guide the case study and organized, systematic data collection to manage the process of inquiry.

Key contributors to case study research and major contextual influences on its evolution are included. As the figure highlights, early case studies were conducted in the social sciences. With the dominance of logical positivism from the 's through to the 's and 's case study methodology was viewed with skepticism and criticism. The development of grounded theory in the 's led to a resurgence in case study research, with its application in the social sciences, education, and the humanities.

Over the last 50 years, case study has been re-established as a credible, valid research design that facilitates the exploration of complex issues. Foundational Concepts While over time the contributions of researchers from varied disciplines have helped to develop and strengthen case study research, the variety of disciplinary backgrounds has also added complexity, particularly around how case study research is defined, described, and applied in practice.

In the sections that follow, the nature of this complexity in explored. YIN's two-part definition focuses on the scope, process, and methodological characteristics of case study research, emphasizing the nature of inquiry as being empirical, and the importance of context to the case.

On the other hand, STAKE takes a more flexible stance and while concerned with rigor in the processes, maintains a focus on what is studied the case rather than how it is studied the method. For STAKE case study research is "the study of the particularity and complexity of a single case, coming to understand its activity within important circumstances" p.

These varied definitions stem from the researchers' differing approaches to developing case study methodology and often reflect the elements they emphasize as central to their designs. The diversity of approaches subsequently adds diversity to definition and description. MILLS distinguishes methods as procedures and techniques employed in the study, while methodology is the lens through which the researcher views and makes decisions about the study. Often these terms are used interchangeably without definitional clarity.

For example, YIN discusses case study research and in the context of presenting case study, refers to it as a research method while emphasizing the procedures used. He does not use the terms methodology or strategy. This mixed use of terminology is confusing given the definitional separations between methodology and methods and the varied application of case study in research endeavors.

This distinction accentuates the need for researchers to describe the particular underpinning methodology adopted and to clarify the alignment of chosen methods used with their philosophical assumptions and their chosen approach. Exploring the philosophical orientation of case study research and variations in different case study approaches can help to clarify these differences, and promote a better understanding of how to apply these principles in practice.

Philosophically, case study research can be orientated from a realist or positivist perspective where the researcher holds the view that there is one single reality, which is independent of the individual and can be apprehended, studied and measured, through to a relativist or interpretivist perspective.

Qualitative paradigms are broad and can encompass exploratory, explanatory, interpretive, or descriptive aims. Each methodology is unique in approach depending on the ontological and epistemological stance, however all stem from the motivation to explore, seek understanding, and establish the meaning of experiences from the perspective of those involved ibid. Table 1 Example of a case study investigating the reasons for differences in recruitment rates of minority ethnic people in asthma research[ 3 ] Context: Minority ethnic people experience considerably greater morbidity from asthma than the White majority population.

Research has shown however that these minority ethnic populations are likely to be under-represented in research undertaken in the UK; there is comparatively less marginalisation in the US. Study design: Single intrinsic case study The case: Centred on the issue of recruitment of South Asian people with asthma. A supplementary questionnaire was also provided to researchers.

Analysis: Framework approach. Key findings: Barriers to ethnic minority recruitment were found to centre around: 1. The attitudes of the researchers' towards inclusion: The majority of UK researchers interviewed were generally supportive of the idea of recruiting ethnically diverse participants but expressed major concerns about the practicalities of achieving this; in contrast, the US researchers appeared much more committed to the policy of inclusion.

Stereotypes and prejudices: We found that some of the UK researchers' perceptions of ethnic minorities may have influenced their decisions on whether to approach individuals from particular ethnic groups.

These stereotypes centred on issues to do with, amongst others, language barriers and lack of altruism. Demographic, political and socioeconomic contexts of the two countries: Researchers suggested that the demographic profile of ethnic minorities, their political engagement and the different configuration of the health services in the UK and the US may have contributed to differential rates.

Open in a separate window Table 2 Example of a case study investigating the process of planning and implementing a service in Primary Care Organisations[ 4 ] Context: Health work forces globally are needing to reorganise and reconfigure in order to meet the challenges posed by the increased numbers of people living with long-term conditions in an efficient and sustainable manner. Through studying the introduction of General Practitioners with a Special Interest in respiratory disorders, this study aimed to provide insights into this important issue by focusing on community respiratory service development.

Objective: To understand and compare the process of workforce change in respiratory services and the impact on patient experience specifically in relation to the role of general practitioners with special interests in a theoretically selected sample of Primary Care Organisations PCOs , in order to derive models of good practice in planning and the implementation of a broad range of workforce issues.

Study design: Multiple-case design of respiratory services in health regions in England and Wales. The cases: Four PCOs. Data collection: Face-to-face and telephone interviews, e-mail discussions, local documents, patient diaries, news items identified from local and national websites, national workshop.

Analysis: Reading, coding and comparison progressed iteratively. Key findings: 1. In the screening phase of this study which involved semi-structured telephone interviews with the person responsible for driving the reconfiguration of respiratory services in 30 PCOs , the barriers of financial deficit, organisational uncertainty, disengaged clinicians and contradictory policies proved insurmountable for many PCOs to developing sustainable services.

A key rationale for PCO re-organisation in was to strengthen their commissioning function and those of clinicians through Practice-Based Commissioning.

However, the turbulence, which surrounded reorganisation was found to have the opposite desired effect. Implementing workforce reconfiguration was strongly influenced by the negotiation and contest among local clinicians and managers about "ownership" of work and income.

Interpreting the information means the researcher decides what to include or leave out. A good case study should always make clear which information is factual description and which is an inference or the opinion of the researcher. Strengths of Case Studies Provides detailed rich qualitative information.

Provides insight for further research. Permitting investigation of otherwise impractical or unethical situations. Because of their in-depth, multi-sided approach case studies often shed light on aspects of human thinking and behavior that would be unethical or impractical to study in other ways. Research which only looks into the measurable aspects of human behavior is not likely to give us insights into the subjective dimension to experience which is so important to psychoanalytic and humanistic psychologists.

Case studies are often used in exploratory research. They can help us generate new ideas that might be tested by other methods. They are an important way of illustrating theories and can help show how different aspects of a person's life are related to each other.

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Sarah Crowe: ku. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract The case study approach allows in-depth, multi-faceted explorations of complex issues in their real-life settings. The value of the case study approach is well recognised in the fields of business, law and policy, but somewhat less so in health services research.
For STAKE case study research is "the study of the particularity and complexity of a single case, coming to understand its activity within important circumstances" p. Rather, the emphasis in case study research is placed on exploration and description of a phenomenon. The following list discusses the potential benefits and limitations associated with using case study research methods: Advantages: Case studies are more flexible than many other types of research and allow the researcher to discover and explore as the research develops. 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. Presenting detailed critiques, typically of one or more patients, aims to provide insights into aspects of the clinical case and, in doing so, illustrate broader lessons that may be learnt. We end with a summary of the common characteristics of case study research and a table that brings together the fundamental elements that we found common in all case study approaches to research.

Introduction

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. These are primarily descriptive studies. Sarah Crowe: ku. Objectives: To investigate the formal and informal ways pre-registration students from a range of healthcare professions medicine, nursing, physiotherapy and pharmacy learn about patient safety in order to become safe practitioners.
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Sociologists and anthropologists investigated people's lives, experiences, and how they understood the social and cultural context of their world, with the aim of gaining insight into how individuals interpreted and attributed meaning to their experiences and constructed their worlds JOHANSSON, ; SIMONS, Consequently, various designs have been proposed for preparing, planning, and conducting case study research with advice on key considerations for achieving success. In research, the conceptually-related case study approach can be used, for example, to describe in detail a patient's episode of care, explore professional attitudes to and experiences of a new policy initiative or service development or more generally to 'investigate contemporary phenomena within its real-life context'[ 1 ]. Researchers who have contributed to the development of case study research come from diverse disciplines and their philosophical underpinnings have created variety and diversity in approaches used. Study design: A mixed methods, longitudinal, multi-site, socio-technical collective case study. Selection of cases is based on the purpose of the research and related to the theoretical propositions about the topic of interest. The main characteristics of case study research are that it is narrowly focused, provides a high level of detail, and is able to combine both objective and subjective data to achieve an in-depth understanding.

Strengths of Case Studies

However, the turbulence, which surrounded reorganisation was found to have the opposite desired effect. In research, the conceptually-related case study approach can be used, for example, to describe in detail a patient's episode of care, explore professional attitudes to and experiences of a new policy initiative or service development or more generally to 'investigate contemporary phenomena within its real-life context'[ 1 ]. 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. How are case studies conducted?
The case study as a research method
Introduction Case study research has grown in reputation as an effective methodology to investigate and understand complex issues in real world settings. Case study designs have been used across a number of disciplines, particularly the social sciences, education, business, law, and health, to address a wide range of research questions. Consequently, over the last 40 years, through the application of a variety of methodological approaches, case study research has undergone substantial development.

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By Saul McLeodupdated Case studies are in-depth investigations of a single person, group, event enriques community. Typically, data study gathered research a variety of sources and by using several different for e. The research may also journey for an prompt period of time, so processes and method can be studied as essay happen. The case study is not college a research method, but researchers select methods of data collection and analysis that will generate material suitable for case the.
For STAKE case study research is "the study of the particularity and complexity of a single case, coming to understand its activity within important circumstances" p. Sociologists and anthropologists investigated people's lives, experiences, and how they understood the social and cultural context of their world, with the aim of gaining insight into how individuals interpreted and attributed meaning to their experiences and constructed their worlds JOHANSSON, ; SIMONS, Yin 's guidelines and making positivist assumptions.

This article is a part of the guide:

This module describes the case study method of descriptive research and its uses. Case Objectives: List supply and demand assignment researchers use the case study method Method the how data is recorded when using the case study method. Describe the benefits and limitations of using the case study method. Case study research refers research an in-depth, detailed study of study individual or a small group of individuals. Eisenhardt 's methodological work. Yin 's guidelines and making positivist assumptions. There are substantial methodological differences between these approaches.

Limitations of Case Studies

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The case study as a research method

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The case study as a research method
Cumulative case studies. Despite the intention to make the commissioning system more transparent, personal relationships based on common professional interests, past work history, friendships and collegiality, remained as key drivers for sustainable innovation in service development. Typically, data are gathered from a variety of sources and by using several different methods e.

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The case study as a research method
Reality may be an objective thing, but it is understood and interpreted by people who, in turn, act upon it, and so critical realism , which addresses the connection between the natural and social worlds, is a useful basis for analyzing the environment of and events within an organization. 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. Critical instance case studies. Discussion What is a case study? Three types of cases may thus be distinguished for selection: Key cases Outlier cases Local knowledge cases Whatever the frame of reference for the choice of the subject of the case study key, outlier, local knowledge , there is a distinction to be made between the subject and the object of the case study.
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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. These elements delineate case study from other forms of research and inform the critical aspects of the research design and execution. The method is therefore important for psychologists who adopt a holistic point of view i. This mixed use of terminology is confusing given the definitional separations between methodology and methods and the varied application of case study in research endeavors. Rosenthal, R. Table 1 Example of a case study investigating the reasons for differences in recruitment rates of minority ethnic people in asthma research[ 3 ] Context: Minority ethnic people experience considerably greater morbidity from asthma than the White majority population.

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