Case Study for Research – Step By Step Guide

Published 16 October, 2023

The research case study method is a qualitative approach (quantitative methods are sometimes also used) that has been used in many fields of inquiry to answer questions about the social, economic, and cultural lives of people. This post will provide an introduction to this methodology by discussing its uses, importance, and step-by-step process.

What is the case study?

A case study is an in-depth study of one person, group, or event. Case studies can be used in a wide range of subjects, including psychology, medicine, education, anthropology, political science, and social work.

The case study is basically a research methodology that researchers apply for gaining in-depth and valuable insight into a specific subject or research topic. It is a research method that you can use for analyzing qualitative information.

The case study is a pragmatic and flexible approach. By applying this method you will be able to analyze the information. In the case study method, you need to collect data by observing things or surrounding phenomena.

For example, An in-depth investigation which the researcher performs for analyzing the difference between HR practices of public and private firms.

Characteristics of the case study method

There are some characteristics of case studies for research, shown below:

  • The case study is both Qualitative and Quantitative methods.
  • It focuses on a particular situation, event, program, or phenomenon.
  • It mainly emphasizes representing the great detail about the topic or subject.
  • It brings about the discovery of new meanings, extends the reader’s experience, and confirms what is already known.
  • Case studies are supported by the belief about the phenomenon.

Use of the case study method in research

You can use a case study method for conducting in-depth research for identifying the problems. It is the research method that you can utilize for performing exploratory research, as these tactics will help you in exploring hidden facts.

For Example, A retail company is facing the issue of a decline in sales, in such a situation, management in an organization can ask a research team for performing an in-depth investigation on the same. It is a strategy that will assist management in identifying the root cause of the decline in sale volume.

Importance of case study method in research

The case study method in research has great significance as it allows exploring issues or subjects from different perspectives. There is some importance of case study method as follows:

  • A case study research methodology is very much important as it will help you in developing an in-depth understanding of the complex problems.
  • In addition to this, it is the case study method in research that allows you to collect a huge volume of information about the field.
  • It aids in the formulation of relevant hypotheses as well as the data that can be used to test them. As a result, case studies enable generalized knowledge to become increasingly rich.
  • The information gathered through the case study method helps a lot to the researcher in the process of creating an adequate questionnaire or schedule for the task at hand.

When to do a case study

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. A good way of doing this would be by exploring the key characteristics and meanings involved with it; for example,

  • How does your chosen topic affect others?
  • What are some implications that could happen as a result of studying further into said topics?

The researcher has full control over their project because they can choose what cases will best suit them where other methods may not provide such freedom.

You can use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in-depth or conduct multiple, contrasting case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

Case studies are a good choice to keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources for larger-scale research.

Process of conducting a case study for research

When preparing and conducting a case study, we concentrate on the most important steps of the research process. The process of a case study involves different phases, these are:

Phase 1 – Selection of Case

At the initial stage of writing a case study, you need to address the issue and on the basis of the same, you need to formulate research questions. After that, you have to select a specific case containing a specific problem. while making a choice of the specific case you need to make sure that it is unique.

A good case study should ideally have the potential to

  • Give you a new perspective on an old topic or challenge your beliefs about something
  • Creating powerful debates about how a problem is approached
  • Propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem that you may not even realize existed
  • Open up new directions for future research as it provides something more than just another “case file” on what we already know about whatever is being studied.

For example, there is a town in the UAE, where the percentage of people suffering from heart problems is very low as compared to the USA. It is the case that you can select for a further writing case study for identifying the main reason for heart disease.

Phase 2 – Creating a theoretical framework

Case studies often provide more detailed information than theory. They should always be connected to existing theories in the field though, so they can not just amount to an isolated account of a single event but also contribute new knowledge and ideas on that topic area. Case studies might aim at:

  • Exemplifying theoretical frameworks by showing how they explain specific cases
  • Expanding current understandings of those models through uncovering relevant concepts or phenomena that need consideration because they don’t fit with what was previously thought about them (i.e., challenging assumptions)
  • Challenging long-standing beliefs by exploring outliers who break from established assumptions

It is phasing where you are writing a literature review along with sources of the topic and on the basis of the same design theoretical framework. While writing cases, you need to ensure that the Case study or issue which you have select has some link to the theory of that specific field. In simple words, you need to identify the main concepts and hypothesis for supporting your analysis and research findings.

Phase 3 – Collection of information

The research methods you can use to collect data on your subject are many and varied. One popular type of study is the case study which focuses more on qualitative data such as interviews, observations, or analysis of primary sources (e.g., newspaper articles). Sometimes these studies also include quantitative information collected in order to illustrate trends within a population group over time.

For example, considering the example, you can use the records in hospitals for collecting information about the percentage of death of people because of a heart attack.  The main objective is to gain valuable insight into the cases of people those of died due to heart disease. In addition to this other purpose of writing a case study is to determine the root cause of a problem.

Phase 4 – Description and analysis of the case

While writing a case study you need to align the relevance of your case. In addition to this, you need to provide all the important detail about the case. The way to present your findings is completed dependent on the types of research you are planning to perform. The technique which you are applying for analyzing information is completely dependent on the type of data gathered through investigation.
Some cases are structured like standard scientific papers or thesis, with separate sections for methods and results, while others may be written in a more narrative style where you explore your findings from different angles and analyze their implications.

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