The selection of a research method is one of the most critical tasks for any study. Among a variety of research designs, it is possible to distinguish between descriptive, experimental, cohort, and so on. A case study can be identified as a method to explore a particular problem in an in-depth manner, which is based on an empirical inquiry. This paper aims at examining the method of case study to better understand its motion, advantages and disadvantages, as well as the ways to gather information and reasons to choose it.
Case Study Concept
When there is a problem that requires analyzing people, companies, events, periods, solutions, and other systems, a case study serves as one of the most relevant research methods (Bonds-Raacke & Raacke, 2017). It allows paying attention to underlying reasons and consequences to align events, behaviors, and outcomes. As stated by Gog (2015), the concept of the case study refers to enabling a researcher to thoroughly explore a specific context and phenomenon (p. 35). The majority of case studies focus on social issues, real-life events, and relationships between phenomena.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Case Study
The most important advantage of the case study method is a focus on the context, which promotes a greater understanding of the target problem and provides the opportunity to find alternative decisions (Bonds-Raacke & Raacke, 2017). For example, if a problem is a high level of employee turnover in a company, it may be useful to investigate the background, organizational culture, and policies that were introduced recently. In addition, case studies help in revealing and understanding the complexity of problems (Yazan, 2015). Also, case studies can include both qualitative and quantitative data analysis, the combination of which leads to a more elaborate solution.
However, the critics of case studies argue that a lack of rigorousness is the key disadvantage that threatens the outcome of studies. In particular, Yazan (2015) mentions that biases and equivocal evidence can be included by the researcher and impact the results of the analysis. Accordingly, the questions regarding the generalization of results often appear in case studies. The limited samples are also mentioned among the drawbacks that negatively affect the objectivity in research. Nevertheless, with proper data collection and structure organization, the method of case studies promotes the establishment of practical solutions to real-life situations.
Case Study as a Research Method
While the reasons for choosing the case study method are numerous, it seems to be beneficial to focus on the most significant ones. First, this method allows for implementing and visualizing various theories and frameworks (Gog, 2015). To find connections and oppositions, the application of theoretical information helps researchers in translating their knowledge and skills into practice. The attention to human behavior is another positive outcome of the identified method since it sheds light on different aspects of personality and social connections. Second, the case study contributes to the emergence of new ideas, which is especially pertinent to exploratory studies (Gog, 2015). For example, if the accessible education policy proved to be unsuccessful, the case study findings can be used to create new propositions and improve the situation in schools for children with special needs. Third, the need for understanding the wider environment can be met by means of case studies (Bonds-Raacke & Raacke, 2017). It is especially important in social, educational, and health care studies that seek to employ various approaches to interpreting target phenomena.
The development of a proper case study requires referring to different sources, which ensures objectivity and richness of data collected. The use of multiple sources of information can be achieved through qualitative methods, such as interviews and observations, while quantitative methods involve audits, questionnaires, and so on (Yazan, 2015). In some cases, these two methods can be used separately, but others need their combination.
Academic evidence from books, articles, reports, and other related sources serves as one more source of relevant data. The use of such sources allows for supporting the ideas with evidence and finding similarities, differences, gaps, biases, and potential alternative solutions (APA, 2020). The review of media sources that are available online can be applied if the case study includes recent conflicts or problems. For example, social assistance organizations and groups often present their goals and achievements through media channels. It should be emphasized that a researcher must use only credible evidence, avoiding blogs, unfamiliar websites, and other unreliable sources.
To conclude, the case study approach allows investigating events, behaviors, policies, and other issues in their context. This method can be used to understand complex phenomena, focusing on various details and their connections. The advantages of case studies include the opportunity to identify alternative decisions, conduct qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and explore the background of a problem. A shortage of rigorousness and limited sample are the drawbacks that lead to generalization biases. The reasons for applying the case study method refer to the need to interpret data, understand the environment, as well as create new ideas. A wide range of sources that can be considered to obtain data includes academic evidence, interviews, questionnaires, and so on.
APA. (2020). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 7th ed.
Bonds-Raacke, J. M., & Raacke, J. (2017). Introduction to research: Less fright, more insight: A customized version of research methods: Are you equipped? 2nd ed., Kendall Hunt Publishing.
Gog, M. (2015). Case study research. International Journal of Sales, Retailing & Marketing, 4(9), 33-41.
Yazan, B. (2015). Three approaches to case study methods in education: Yin, Merriam, and Stake. The Qualitative Report, 20(2), 134-152.