In clarifying lines of history and causation it is more useful to select subjects that offer an interesting, unusual or particularly revealing set of circumstances. For instance, clinical science has produced both well-known case studies of individuals and also case studies of clinical practices. Outlier cases (that is, those which are extreme, deviant or atypical) reveal more information than the potentially representative case. Whilst it will not answer a question completely, it will give some indications and allow further elaboration and hypothesis creation on a subject. When the approach is applied correctly, it becomes a valuable method for health science research to develop theory, evaluate programs, and develop interventions. Typically, data are gathered from a variety of sources and by using several different methods (e. The case study is not itself a research method, but researchers select methods of data collection and analysis that will generate material suitable for case studies. The case study has been especially used in social science, psychology, anthropology and ecology. Qualitative case study methodology provides tools for researchers to study complex phenomena within their contexts. Basically, a case study is an in depth study of a particular situation rather than a sweeping statistical survey.
A case selection that is based on representativeness will seldom be able to produce these kinds of insights. It is a method used to narrow down a very broad field of research into one easily researchable topic. The research may also continue for an extended period of time, so processes and developments can be studied as they happen. Case studies are in-depth investigations of a single person, group, event or community. This method of study is especially useful for trying to test theoretical models by using them in real world situations. The purpose of this paper is to guide the novice researcher in identifying the key elements for designing and implementing qualitative case study research projects. The case study research design have evolved over the past few years as a useful tool for investigating trends and specific situations in many scientific disciplines. To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately, . For example, if an anthropologist were to live amongst a remote tribe, whilst their observations might produce no quantitative data, they are still useful to science.
Case studies allow a researcher to investigate a topic in far more detail than might be possible if they were trying to deal with a large number of research participants (nomothetic approach) with the aim of ‘averaging’. These case studies are likely to appear in formal research venues, as journals and professional conferences, rather than popular works. Alternatively, a case may be selected as a key case, chosen because of the inherent interest of the case or the circumstances surrounding it. The case study method often involves simply observing what happens to, or reconstructing ‘the case history’ of a single participant or group of individuals (such as a school class or a specific social group), i. To facilitate application of these principles, clear examples of research questions, study propositions and the different types of case study designs are provided. When selecting a subject for a case study, researchers will therefore use information-oriented sampling, as opposed to random sampling. The case study research method originated in clinical medicine (the case history, i.
An overview of the types of case study designs is provided along with general recommendations for writing the research questions, developing propositions, determining the “case” under study, binding the case and a discussion of data sources and triangulation.