Case study research remains a controversial data collection approach. However, it is recognized widely in different social studies. That’s because it enables researchers to provide in-depth explanations of different social behaviors.
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Perhaps, you’re wondering, what is a case study research? Maybe you want to know what it involves. Well, this is a research method that utilizes reports from past studies. It allows researchers to explore and understand complex issues using those reports. This research method may be considered robust, especially when researchers require holistic, in-depth investigation.
Most social sciences recognize case study research design and methods and their roles have become more prominent. This approach is used to research and write about topics in education, sociology, and community-based issues like drug addiction, poverty, and unemployment.
What is Case Study Research?
In social studies, the case study is a research method in which a phenomenon is investigated in its real-life context. It’s an empirical inquiry and research strategy that is based on an in-depth investigation of a group, event, or individual to explore the underlying principles causes.
Essentially, this study can be defined as an exploratory and descriptive analysis of a case. But, what is a case study in research? Well, a case can be anything that a researcher wants to investigate. This can include a person, a group, an event, a decision, a policy, period, institution, or any other system that can be studied historically.
Methods Used in Case Study Research
This type of research uses the same study methodology with other research types. But, the most common case study research method starts with the definition of a single case. It can also be a group comprising similar cases. These can be incorporated for a multiple-case study.
This is followed by a search to determine what is already known about the case or cases. This search can involve a review of grey literature, reports, and media content. This review plays a critical role in enabling the researchers to understand the case. It also informs researchers when it comes to developing case study research questions.
In most case studies, data is often qualitative, though not exclusively. Thus, researchers engage in case study qualitative research. When researchers use multiple cases, they analyze each case separately. Themes can arise from assertions or analysis about the entire case.
Case study research methodology can include:
- Personal interviews
- Archival records
- Psychometric tests
- Direct observation
Case studies are more in-depth when compared to observational research. That’s because they use several records or measures while focusing on a single subject. In some cases, a multiple-case design can be used. What’s more, a case study can be retrospective or prospective. A retrospective case study uses criteria to choose cases from historical records. Prospective case studies, on the other hand, uses established criteria while including extra cases as long as they meet the set criteria.
Because case studies use qualitative data like the one collected from interviews, they tend to be more liable. However, quantitative data and questionnaires can also be used. For instance, a case study can be used in clinical research to monitor and determine the effectiveness of treatment.
Types of Case Study Research
When you research case study, you explore causation to identify the underlying principles. But, they can’t be generalized to a larger population the way researchers do when conducting experimental research. They also can’t provide predictive power the same way correlational research can do. Rather, they provide extensive data that can be used to develop new hypotheses that can be used for further research. It can also be used to study rare conditions or events that are hard-to-study.
A case study research paper can fall into any of these categories:
- Illustrative case study- This is a descriptive type of case study. It uses one or two instances to describe an event. The purpose of an illustrative case study is to make what is considered unfamiliar familiar. It also provides a common language for the readers about a subject.
- Exploratory case study- This is also called a pilot case study. It comprises condensed case studies that are performed before a large-scale investigation. Its purpose is to help researchers identify research questions and select the measurement types before the main investigation. The major drawback of this study is that it can make initial findings convincing and lead to their premature release as conclusions.
- Cumulative case study- This is a case study that entails the aggregation of information from different sources that were collected at varying times. The goal is to collect past studies to enhance generalization without spending more time or cost on new and probably repetitive studies.
- Critical instance case study- This examines one or several sites to examine a situation of specific interest with no or little interest in generalizing them. It can also be used to challenge or question universal or highly generalized assertions. This method can be used to answer the cause and effect study questions.
People may define case study research differently based on these major types of this investigation. Nevertheless, it’s an intensive and systematic investigation of a group, community, individuals, or other units where the researchers examine in-depth data that relate to several variables.
Example of Case Study Research
Case study definition in research may vary. However, students should be keen to choose topics they are comfortable researching and writing about. Here are case study research question examples that be used for this kind of investigation.
- How and why are employees abusing drugs at workplaces?
- How is social media influencing modern businesses?
- What are the most effective ways for small businesses to plan their advertising budget?
- How can social media ads help in driving customers?
- How can employees engage during tough times?
- How can a business consider small customers to make bigger profits?
- How good is care quality for complex patients at major Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics?
- How effective are pediatric pain management practices by nurses?
Different data collection methods can be used to assess and understand each case separately. This can lead to a better understanding of the phenomenon under investigation. The goal of the case study research design is to provide a framework that can be used to evaluate and analyze complex issues. For instance, in the last two examples above, a case study can be used to shed light on the nursing practice as a holistic approach. It can also provide a perspective that will inform the nurses to give improved care to their patients.
How to Do Case Study Research
When writing a case study paper, follow these steps, suggested by our writing professionals:
- Determine the case to study, data collection methods, and the information to gather.
- Select the subjects or people to participate in the case study.
- Prepare relevant materials like questionnaires to collect relevant information. This should also include your research problem.
- Use the collected data to write your case.
- Add the appendices and references
- Proofread and edit your final case study paper
In a nutshell, a case study entails collecting data that leads to a better understanding of a phenomenon. The methodology of a case study provides a framework that is used to analyze and evaluate more complex issues.