Friday, 3 October 2014


Case study research excels at bringing us to an understanding of a complex issue or object and can extend experience or add strength to what is already known through previous research. Case studies emphasize detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their relationships. Researchers have used the case study research method for many years across a variety of disciplines. Social scientists, in particular, have made wide use of this qualitative research method to examine contemporary real-life situations and provide the basis for the application of ideas and extension of methods. Researcher Robert K. Yin defines the case study research method as an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context; when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident; and in which multiple sources of evidence are used.
Critics of the case study method believe that the study of a small number of cases can offer no grounds for establishing reliability or generality of findings. Others feel that the intense exposure to study of the case biases the findings. Some dismiss case study research as useful only as an exploratory tool. Yet researchers continue to use the case study research method with success in carefully planned and crafted studies of real-life situations, issues, and problems. Reports on case studies from many disciplines are widely available in the literature.
This paper explains about case study.

A.    Definition of Case Study
A case study is a story about something unique, special, or interesting, stories can be
about individuals, organizations, processes, programs, neighborhoods, institutions, and
even events.1 The case study gives the story behind the result by capturing what happened
to bring it about, and can be a good opportunity to highlight a project’s success, or to
bring attention to a particular challenge or difficulty in a project. Cases2 might be selected
because they are highly effective, not effective, representative, typical, or of special interest.
A few examples of case study topics are provided below—the case studies would describe
what happened when, to whom, and with what consequences in each case.

B.     Advantages and Limitations of a Case Study
The primary advantage of a case study is that it provides much more detailed information than what is available through other methods, such as surveys. Case studies also allow one to present data collected from multiple to provide the complete story. There are a few limitations and pitfalls however:
·         Can be lengthy
·         Concern that case studies lack rigor
·         Not generalizable

C.    Process for Conducting a Case Study
1.      Plan
·         Identify stakeholders who will be involved.
·         Brainstorm a case study topic, considering types of cases and why they are unique or of interest.
·         Identify what information is needed and from whom (see “What are Potential Sources of Information?” and “What are the Elements of a Case Study?”).
2.      Develop Instruments
·         Develop interview/survey protocols—the rules that guide the administration and implementation of the interview/survey. Put simply, these are the instructions that are followed to ensure consistency across interviews/surveys, and thus increase the reliability of the findings. The following instructions for the should be included in the protocol
3.      Train Data Collectors
·         Identify and train data collectors (if necessary).
4.       Collect Data
·         Gather all relevant documents.
·         Set up interviews/surveys with stakeholders (be sure to explain the purpose, why the stakeholder has been chosen, and the expected duration).
5.      Analyze Data
·         Review all relevant documents.
·         Review all interview/survey data.
6.      Disseminate Findings
·         Write report
·         Solicit feedback.

D.    Elements of a Case Study
1.      The Problem: It is essential to identify what the problem was.
2.      Steps Undertaken to Address the Problem: What was done (activities/ interventions/ inputs), where, by whom, for whom?
3.      Results: the results of your intervention, particularly the significant or unique results.
4.      Challenges and how they were met: This focuses on what challenges or difficulties you encountered and what you did to overcome them.
5.      Beyond Results: Are the results are mentioned above sustainable.
6.      Lessons Learned: What lessons were learned: programmatic, technical, financial, process.

E.     Types of Case Studies
1.      Explanatory: Used to do causal investigations.
Exploratory: A case study that is sometimes used as a prelude to further, more in-depth research. This allows researchers to gather more information before developing their research questions and hypotheses.
2.      Descriptive: Involves starting with a descriptive theory. The subjects are then observed and the information gathered is compared to the pre-existing theory.
3.      Intrinsic: A type of case study in which the researcher has a personal interest in the case.
4.      Collective: Involves studying a group of individuals.
5.      Instrumental: Occurs when the individual or group allows researchers to understand more than what is initially obvious to observers.

F.     Case Study Methods
1.      Prospective: A type of case study in which an individual or group of people is observed in order to determine outcomes. For example, a group of individuals might be watched over an extended period of time to observe the progression of a particular disease.
2.      Retrospective: A type of case study that involves looking at historical information. For example, researchers might start with an outcome, such as a disease, and then backwards at information about the individuals life to determine risk factors that may have contributed to the onset of the illness.

G.    Sources of Information Used in a Case Study
There are a number of different sources and methods that researchers can use to gather information about an individual or group. The six major sources that have been identified by researchers are:
1.      Direct observation: This strategy involves observing the subject, often in a natural setting. While an individual observer is sometimes used, it is more common to utilize a group of observers.
2.      Interviews: One of the most important methods for gathering information in case studies. An interview can involves structured survey-type questions, or more open-ended questions.
3.      Documents: Letters, newspaper articles, administrative records, etc.
4.      Archival records: Census records, survey records, name lists, etc.
5.      Physical artifacts: Tools, objects, instruments and other artifacts often observed during a direct observation of the subject.
6.      Participant observation: Involves the researcher actually serving as a participant in events and observing the actions and outcomes.

H.    Presenting Case Studies
Case studies are flexible in that they can be presented in a number of ways, there is no
specific format to follow. However, like all evaluation results, justification and methodology of the study should be provided, as well as any supporting information (i.e., copies of instruments and guides used in the study). Case studies may stand alone or be included in a larger evaluation report. If presented as a stand-alone report, the following report outline is suggested:
1.      Introduction and Justification
2.      Methodology
·         Describe the process of selecting the case and data collection sources, as well as how data was collected.
·         Limitations of this method.
·         instruments were used to collect data.
·         sample(s) is/are being used.
·         period of time was this data collected
3.      The Problem
4.      The Steps Taken to Address the Problem
5.      The Results
6.      The Challenges and How They were Met
7.      Beyond Results
8.      Lessons Learned
9.      Conclusion
10.  Appendices
A well-written report would contain the following elements:
  1. Executive summary. This is a concisely written statement, less than one page, placed at the front of the report. It briefly summarizes the major points of the case and your solution. It should describe the major issue, the proposed solution, and the logic supporting the solution.
  2. Problem statement. Present the central issue(s) or major problem(s) in the case here. Do not rehash the facts of the case; assume that anyone reading the report is familiar with the case.
  3. Alternatives. Discuss all relevant alternatives. Briefly present the major arguments for and against each alternative. Be sure to state your assumptions and the impact of constraints on each alternative.
  4. Conclusion. Present the analysis and the logic that led you to select a particular solution. Also discuss the reasons you rejected the other alternatives.
  5. Implementation. Outline a plan of action that will lead to effective implementation of the decision so that the reader can see not only why you chose a particular alternative but how it will work.
Preparation of an oral case report should include the following:
  1. Description of the case situation. Present a brief overview of the situation in the case. Sometimes a teacher will ask a student to start off the classroom discussion with this overview.
  2. Problem statement. Describe the major issue(s) or problem(s) in the case.
  3. Analysis of the key alternatives. Present the results of your analysis of relevant alternatives in a concise manner. Depending on the type of analysis, this is sometimes called "running the numbers."
  4. Conclusion. Briefly describe the logic that led you to choose the alternative. Summarize why the other alternatives were not chosen.
  5. Implementation. Present your implementation plan.


Case studies are complex because they generally involve multiple sources of data, may include multiple cases within a study, and produce large amounts of data for analysis. Researchers from many disciplines use the case study method to build upon theory, to produce new theory, to dispute or challenge theory, to explain a situation, to provide a basis to apply solutions to situations, to explore, or to describe an object or phenomenon. The advantages of the case study method are its applicability to real-life, contemporary, human situations and its public accessibility through written reports. Case study results relate directly to the common readers everyday experience and facilitate an understanding of complex real-life situations.

Palena neale. 2006. Reparing a case study: A guide for designing and Conducting a case study for Evaluation input. USA.


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