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.
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.