June 03, 2015

What on earth is a case study?

Case study Research

I think it is fair to say that not every expert or author agrees on what case study research is, some regard it as a methodology while others regard it a research design. This simple fact brought confusion and some lively discussions to both of our two meetings.

I think it is fair to say that not every expert or author agrees on what case study research is, some regard it as a methodology while others regard it a research design. This simple fact brought confusion and some lively discussions to both of our two meetings.

Case study as method, methodology or research design

case_study__anatomy_folds_by_artistshospital.jpgNow, to set the record straight, I am not going to tell you that the answer is this or that, simply because there is no clear answer. So when you read the different points of view choose that answer which makes more sense to you and make sure you can defend this choice (to your supervisor and in your viva).

So, case study is reefed to as a research method, research methodology, genre and research design!

The most prevalent of those is regarding case study as methodology, authors such as Yin and Stake and Pollard regard case study as a methodology (or an approach to research).

Authors like Elliott & Lukeš regard case study as a research genre. What is meant by genre is a guiding principle for the research deign. So, for these people, case study refers to a higher level of abstraction. So bare with me:

If you were to imagine your research paradigm, with the your ontology on top dictating what is reality, followed by your epistemology or epistemological standpoint dictating how we know something and finally the methodology on bottom dictating how do we go about finding out something. Then, case study (as a genre) will belong in your epistemology rather than in you methodology.

So...

All you need to know is that debate about the nature of case study is on going. So keep an eye out.


Resources:


  • Hamilton, L., & Corbett-Whittier, C. (2012). Using Case Study in Education Research. Sage Publications Ltd.
  • Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (4th ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc.



Image credit: ArtistsHospital


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