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What Is a Case Study?
When you’re performing research as part of your job or for a school assignment, you’ll probably come across case studies that help you to learn more about the topic at hand. But what is a case study and why are they helpful? Read on to learn all about case studies.
Deep Dive into a Topic
At face value, a case study is a deep dive into a topic. Case studies can be found in many fields, particularly across the social sciences and medicine. When you conduct a case study, you create a body of research based on an inquiry and related data from analysis of a group, individual or controlled research environment.
As a researcher, you can benefit from the analysis of case studies similar to inquiries you’re currently studying. Researchers often rely on case studies to answer questions that basic information and standard diagnostics cannot address.
Study a Pattern
One of the main objectives of a case study is to find a pattern that answers whatever the initial inquiry seeks to find. This might be a question about why college students are prone to certain eating habits or what mental health problems afflict house fire survivors. The researcher then collects data, either through observation or data research, and starts connecting the dots to find underlying behaviors or impacts of the sample group’s behavior.
During the study period, the researcher gathers evidence to back the observed patterns and future claims that’ll be derived from the data. Since case studies are usually presented in the professional environment, it’s not enough to simply have a theory and observational notes to back up a claim. Instead, the researcher must provide evidence to support the body of study and the resulting conclusions.
As the study progresses, the researcher develops a solid case to present to peers or a governing body. Case study presentation is important because it legitimizes the body of research and opens the findings to a broader analysis that may end up drawing a conclusion that’s more true to the data than what one or two researchers might establish. The presentation might be formal or casual, depending on the case study itself.
Once the body of research is established, it’s time to draw conclusions from the case study. As with all social sciences studies, conclusions from one researcher shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, but they’re helpful for advancing the body of knowledge in a given field. For that purpose, they’re an invaluable way of gathering new material and presenting ideas that others in the field can learn from and expand upon.
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Qualitative Descriptive Research and Case Study Research: A Comparison
Applying qualitative research to the field of nursing allows shedding light on various issues such as the nature of specific phenomena, the perception of a problem by nurses and patients, and other concerns. Qualitative research encompasses a range of methods for the analysis of key variables, which define the focus and the tools used in the process (Holly, 2013). The adoption of qualitative descriptive research and a case study are typically seen as the most common options (Dang & Dearholt, 2017). However, although the described methods may seem similar, the differences in the approaches that they suggest define the specifics of their application. While a qualitative case study implies mostly general analysis of observations and documentation, qualitative descriptive research requires a precise focus on a particular group of participants that will be studied.
Similarly, qualitative descriptive research is quite different from the research method known as action research. In contrast to qualitative descriptive research, action research implies taking field notes while collecting the necessary data within a focus group (Holly, 2013). Therefore, it could be argued that the focus of action research is slightly narrower than the one of qualitative descriptive research (Singla, Jones, Edwards, & Kumar, 2015). Nevertheless, both approaches toward the analysis of variables require access to essential documentation and patient records to perform a comprehensive assessment of the key factors. Despite being quite similar in their basic premise of studying qualitative relationships between key variables, the existing types of qualitative research suggest different types of assessment and perspectives (Holly, 2013). Thus, the choice of a qualitative research method hinges on study objectives, types of relationships that it seeks to explore, and other factors.
Dang, D., & Dearholt, S. L. (2017). Johns Hopkins nursing evidence-based practice: Model and guidelines (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Sigma Theta Tau.
Holly, C. (Ed.). (2013). Scholarly inquiry and the DNP Capstone . New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Singla, M., Jones, M., Edwards, I., & Kumar, S. (2015). Physiotherapists’ assessment of patients’ psychosocial status: Are we standing on thin ice? A qualitative descriptive study. Manual Therapy, 20 (2), 328-334. Web.
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Case studies are a popular research method in business area. Case studies aim to analyze specific issues within the boundaries of a specific environment, situation or organization.
According to its design, case studies in business research can be divided into three categories: explanatory, descriptive and exploratory.
Explanatory case studies aim to answer ‘how’ or ’why’ questions with little control on behalf of researcher over occurrence of events. This type of case studies focus on phenomena within the contexts of real-life situations. Example: “An investigation into the reasons of the global financial and economic crisis of 2008 – 2010.”
Descriptive case studies aim to analyze the sequence of interpersonal events after a certain amount of time has passed. Studies in business research belonging to this category usually describe culture or sub-culture, and they attempt to discover the key phenomena. Example: “Impact of increasing levels of multiculturalism on marketing practices: A case study of McDonald’s Indonesia.”
Exploratory case studies aim to find answers to the questions of ‘what’ or ‘who’. Exploratory case study data collection method is often accompanied by additional data collection method(s) such as interviews, questionnaires, experiments etc. Example: “A study into differences of leadership practices between private and public sector organizations in Atlanta, USA.”
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. Case studies do have certain disadvantages that may include lack of rigor, challenges associated with data analysis and very little basis for generalizations of findings and conclusions.
- Section 2: Home
- Developing the Quantitative Research Design
- Qualitative Descriptive Design
Overview of Descriptive Design
Sources of data.
- Design and Development Research (DDR) For Instructional Design
- Qualitative Narrative Inquiry Research
- Action Research Resource
- Case Study Design in an Applied Doctorate
- Sage Research Methods
- Research Examples (SAGE)
- Dataset Examples (SAGE)
- IRB Resource Center
A descriptive design is a flexible, exploratory approach to qualitative research. Descriptive design is referred to in the literature by other labels including generic, general, basic, traditional, interpretive, and pragmatic. Descriptive design as an acceptable research design for dissertation and other robust scholarly research has received varying degrees of acceptance within the academic community. However, descriptive design has been gaining momentum since the early 2000’s as a suitable design for studies that do not fall into the more mainstream genres of qualitative research (ie. Case study, phenomenology, ethnography, narrative inquiry and grounded theory). In contrast to other qualitative designs, descriptive design is not aligned to specific methods (for example, bracketing in phenomenology, bounded systems in case study, or constant comparative analysis in grounded theory). Rather, descriptive design “borrows” methods appropriate to the proposed study from other designs.
Arguments supporting the flexible nature of descriptive designs describe it as being preferable to forcing a research approach into a design that is not quite appropriate for the nature of the intended study. However, descriptive design has also been criticized for this mixing of methods as well as for the limited literature describing it. The descriptive design can be the foundation for a rigorous study within the ADE program. Because of the flexibility of the methods used, a descriptive design provides the researcher with the opportunity to choose methods best suited to a practice-based research purpose.
The following video provides additional insight into descriptive design: Generic Descriptive Research Design
Sources of Data in Descriptive Design
Because of the exploratory nature of descriptive design, the triangulation of multiple sources of data are often used for additional insight into the phenomenon. Sources of data that can be used in descriptive studies are similar to those that may be used in other qualitative designs and include interviews, focus groups, documents, artifacts, and observations.
The following video provides additional considerations for triangulation in qualitative designs including descriptive design: Triangulation: Pairing Thematic and Content Analysis
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- Next: Design and Development Research (DDR) For Instructional Design >>
- Last Updated: Mar 8, 2023 2:50 PM
- URL: https://resources.nu.edu/c.php?g=1013605
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The case study is a descriptive qualitative methodology
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Home » Case Study – Methods, Examples and Guide
Case Study – Methods, Examples and Guide
Table of Contents
Case study is a research method that involves an in-depth, detailed examination of a single unit, such as an individual, family, group, organization, community, or event. Case studies are usually conducted by sociologists, psychologists, historians, anthropologists, or researchers from other social science disciplines.
Case studies are used to provide a rich and detailed account of a particular social phenomenon. They are often used to generate new hypotheses or to test existing theories. In some cases, case studies are also used to evaluate programs or interventions.
Types of Case Study
There are three types of case study research:
Exploratory Case Studies
Descriptive case studies, explanatory case studies.
Exploratory case studies are conducted when little is known about a phenomenon. They are used to generate hypotheses and gather preliminary data.
Descriptive case studies describe a phenomenon in detail. They are used to develop an understanding of a complex issue.
Explanatory case studies explain why or how something happens. They are used to test theories and identify cause-and-effect relationships.
Case Study Data Collection Methods
There are a variety of case study data collection methods, including:
- Document analysis
Interviews are perhaps the most common type of data collection in case studies. They allow researchers to collect detailed information about individuals’ experiences and perspectives.
Observations can also be useful in case studies, particularly if the researcher is interested in studying how people interact with their environment.
Document analysis is another common data collection method in case studies; it involves examining documents such as policy records, media reports, and demographic data.
How to conduct Case Study Research
Conducting case study research is a complex process that requires both scientific and methodological rigor. Follow the steps below:
- Define the research question or questions to be addressed.
- Determine if there is enough information available about the case or cases you want to study
- Consider your budget and time Constraints.
- Select the appropriate methodology and design.
- Decide if there is an existing theoretical framework that can be applied to your case or cases.
- Collect data, which can be done through interviews, focus groups, surveys, or observation.
- Analyze the data and draw conclusions.
- Communicate the findings.
Advantages of Case Study Research
There are several advantages of using case study research.
- It allows for a close examination of the context within which the phenomenon under investigation occurs.
- It provides rich data that can be analyzed in depth.
- It allows for the development of theory from data.
- It can be used to test hypotheses.
- Case studies can help to refine existing models.
- It can be used for descriptive purposes.
- It promotes reflexivity on the part of the researcher.
Also see Focus Groups in Qualitative Research
Disadvantages of Case Study Research
There are also a number of drawbacks to using this approach.
- It can be difficult to generalize from the case study to other situations. Because the focus is on a single case.
- it can be more difficult to determine the impact of the factors being studied.
- Case study research can be time-consuming and expensive.
About the author
I am Muhammad Hassan, a Researcher, Academic Writer, Web Developer, and Android App Developer. I have worked in various industries and have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience. In my spare time, I enjoy writing blog posts and articles on a variety of Academic topics. I also like to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the IT industry to share my knowledge with others through my writing.
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