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research methods used in case study

Case Study Method is the Most Popular One

A case study method is a teaching doctrine that is oriented on a deep structured analysis of a modulated situation according to basic analytic rules. Presently, it is one of the most popular and useful learning methods in scientific circles. It is amazingly useful on different occasions, such as business planning or while writing a research paper . Since the time of its invention and implementation, this method has evolved from the local little-known business teaching approach to a common technique of solution skills improvement.

These days, there are a variety of professional schools using case study research methods in multiple areas, such as Harvard Business School, Yale School of Management, or Columbia School of Journalism.

Every solved dilemma ensures a person's experience and perfect analytical skills not only in similar situations connected with the precedent but in a variety of disciplines as well. Psychology, medicine, sociology, management, trade, modern technologies, scientific research - all these subjects are strongly connected with the methodology of the case study. Either the omnipresent daily tasks like writing a cv template word or a sample book review become easier with this smart and effective technique.

Main reasons for using a case study method

This method focuses on the development and elaboration of sharp fast-thinking techniques, connected with your ability to solve problems that are based on previous experience.

According to the modern sociological doctrines, a capability of deep and clear analysis is the main characteristic of a successful person. This method equips you with the right template s of thinking and flexible manners of their modification. It also comes in handy when you need to defend your work or demonstrate the originality of your research, which is probably the author's primary aim. These are the main rules of composing your work according to a study case:

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Dedication. Quality. Commitment. Punctuality

Justification of using a case study method in daily practice

Still aren’t persuaded in the usefulness of this technique not only in scientific research and role-play discussions but also in daily practice? Pay attention to the following statement: solving problems in this manner helps not only remember the subject better but also improves the ability of independent thinking, and responsible judgment. A free-minded original individual, who is trained in modern analysis, is able to solve a variety of problems, either like fixing an algebra 1 homework help or like inventing the creative book report ideas . Be sure that type of skills will always come in handy.

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research methods used in case study

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Case Study Research Method in Psychology

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Educator, Researcher

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education.

Learn about our Editorial Process

Olivia Guy-Evans

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons), Psychology, MSc, Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

Case studies are in-depth investigations of a single person, group, event, or community. Typically, data is gathered from various sources and by using several different methods (e.g., observations & interviews ).

What are Case Studies?

The case study research method originated in clinical medicine (the case history, i.e., the patient’s personal history). In psychology, case studies are often confined to the study of a particular individual.

The information is mainly biographical and relates to events in the individual’s past (i.e., retrospective), as well as to significant events which are currently occurring in his or her everyday life.

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.

Case studies are widely used in psychology, and amongst the best known were the ones carried out by Sigmund Freud, including Anna O and Little Hans .

Freud (1909a, 1909b) conducted very detailed investigations into the private lives of his patients in an attempt to both understand and help them overcome their illnesses. Even today, case histories are one of the main methods of investigation in abnormal psychology and psychiatry.

This makes it clear that the case study is a method that should only be used by a psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist, i.e., someone with a professional qualification.

There is an ethical issue of competence. Only someone qualified to diagnose and treat a person can conduct a formal case study relating to atypical (i.e., abnormal) behavior or atypical development.

The procedure used in a case study means that the researcher provides a description of the behavior. This comes from interviews and other sources, such as observation.

The client also reports detail of events from his or her point of view. The researcher then writes up the information from both sources above as the case study and interprets the information.

The research may also continue for an extended period of time, so processes and developments can be studied as they happen.

Amongst the sources of data the psychologist is likely to turn to when carrying out a case study are observations of a person’s daily routine, unstructured interviews with the participant herself (and with people who know her), diaries, personal notes (e.g., letters, photographs, notes) or official document (e.g., case notes, clinical notes, appraisal reports).

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.e., the idiographic approach .

The interview is also an extremely effective procedure for obtaining information about an individual, and it may be used to collect comments from the person’s friends, parents, employer, workmates, and others who have a good knowledge of the person, as well as to obtain facts from the person him or herself.

Most of this information is likely to be qualitative (i.e., verbal description rather than measurement), but the psychologist might collect numerical data as well.

The data collected can be analyzed using different theories (e.g., grounded theory, interpretative phenomenological analysis, text interpretation, e.g., thematic coding).

All the approaches mentioned here use preconceived categories in the analysis, and they are ideographic in their approach, i.e., they focus on the individual case without reference to a comparison group.

Interpreting the information means the researcher decides what to include or leave out. A good case study should always clarify which information is the factual description and which is an inference or the researcher’s opinion.

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’.

Because of their in-depth, multi-sided approach, case studies often shed light on aspects of human thinking and behavior that would be unethical or impractical to study in other ways.

Research that only looks into the measurable aspects of human behavior is not likely to give us insights into the subjective dimension of experience, which is important to psychoanalytic and humanistic psychologists.

Case studies are often used in exploratory research. They can help us generate new ideas (that might be tested by other methods). They are an important way of illustrating theories and can help show how different aspects of a person’s life are related to each other.

The method is, therefore, important for psychologists who adopt a holistic point of view (i.e., humanistic psychologists ).


Because a case study deals with only one person/event/group, we can never be sure if the case study investigated is representative of the wider body of “similar” instances. This means the conclusions drawn from a particular case may not be transferable to other settings.

Because case studies are based on the analysis of qualitative (i.e., descriptive) data, a lot depends on the psychologist’s interpretation of the information she has acquired.

This means that there is a lot of scope for observer bias, and it could be that the subjective opinions of the psychologist intrude in the assessment of what the data means.

For example, Freud has been criticized for producing case studies in which the information was sometimes distorted to fit particular behavioral theories (e.g., Little Hans ).

This is also true of Money’s interpretation of the Bruce/Brenda case study (Diamond, 1997) when he ignored evidence that went against his theory.

How to reference this article:

McLeod, S. A. (2019, August 03). Case study method . Simply Psychology. simplypsychology.org/case-study.html

Diamond, M., & Sigmundson, K. (1997). Sex Reassignment at Birth: Long-term Review and Clinical Implications. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine , 151(3), 298-304

Freud, S. (1909a). Analysis of a phobia of a five year old boy. In The Pelican Freud Library (1977), Vol 8, Case Histories 1, pages 169-306

Freud, S. (1909b). Bemerkungen über einen Fall von Zwangsneurose (Der “Rattenmann”). Jb. psychoanal. psychopathol. Forsch ., I, p. 357-421; GW, VII, p. 379-463; Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis, SE , 10: 151-318.

Further Information

Case Study Approach Case Study Method

Enhancing the Quality of Case Studies in Health Services Research

“We do things together” A case study of “couplehood” in dementia

Using mixed methods for evaluating an integrative approach to cancer care: a case study

Freud’s Case Studies

Little Hans – Freudian Case Study

H.M. Case Study

Anna O – Freudian Case Study

Genie Case Study – Curtiss (1977)

research methods used in case study

research methods used in case study

Case Study As A Research Method Case Study

research methods used in case study

Excerpt from Case Study :

In most instances, the method chooses a small group of people or geographical location as the subject of study. Case study has been criticized as being less robust than other methods and it is important that great care be taken when constructing the case study's design. A multi-case or single-case can be adopted depending on the issue the researcher wants to study. Where there are not any cases to replicate, a single-case design can be adopted (Zaidah Zainal, 2007). Publishers and editors usually expect researchers to present their work in standard form when submitting their work for readers and reviewers. The form can differ by paper type, for example, a survey paper will differ from a case study, but the building blocks always remain the same. Various components of a paper are also needed to aid in indexing. Parts like titles, affiliations, authors, abstract and various metadata are very useful and should therefore be included. The information in sections usually show how existing tools, methods and theory were utilized but it is also very valuable that reflections the researchers extract from the whole experience and the relevance to other research work in the area of study are explained (Michael Derntl, 2014). Several case studies exist for case studies. They include descriptive, explanatory, and exploratory case studies (Zaidah Zainal, 2007). 1. Exploratory case studies look into any data phenomena, which is relevant to the cause of the research. For instance, one doing a research on the reading processes of individuals might make general enquiries such as, "Are any strategies employed by students when they read a text?" and "if that is the case, how often?" Such general enquires and questions make further exploration easy, as they are likely to open many possibilities for further research. 2. Descriptive case studies give comprehensive descriptions of natural phenomena occurring within a given data. When investigating reading strategies, such a study will describe the strategies being used and the instances they are used. What might…

Sources Used in Documents:

References Kristina Olson, & C.A. Meyersburg. (2008). A Brief Guide to Writing the Psychology Paper. Harvard College Writing Center. Jennifer Marie Mccarron. (2004). An Integration Of Biblical Principles In Counseling: Psychology Filtered Through Scripture. Honors Program Liberty University. Kohlberg, L.. (1971). From is to ought: How to commit the naturalistic fallacy and get away with it in the study of moral development. New York: Academic Press. Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development: A Christian Apprisal. (2016, October 8). Retrieved from Reclaim The Mind: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/papers/ets/2005/Moroney/Moroney.pdf

Cite this Document:

"Case Study As A Research Method" (2016, October 14) Retrieved March 5, 2023, from https://www.paperdue.com/essay/case-study-as-a-research-method-2162716

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Case Study Research Methods, PDF eBook

Case Study Research Methods PDF

By gillham bill gillham, part of the continuum research methods series.

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More people than ever are using case studies in research, yet there is very little guidance on how to construct case studies effectively.

Drawing on his vast experience of teaching and mentoring researchers, Bill Gillham here provides a comprehensive guide to this popular method of research.Using real-life examples throughout, Case Study Research Methods guides the reader through all the stages of a case study, from initial design to the processing and writing up of findings.

Especially detailed guidance offered on observation techniques, using documentary and electronic sources and physical artifacts, conducting interviews and analyzing and writing up case-study data.




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Research Methods in Education - Case Study Example

Research Methods in Education

Extract of sample "Research Methods in Education"

The usual subjects of a naturalistic research or ethnography are the exploration of a specific group, culture, community, organization, organizations and the like.Historical research, n the other hand, is the “systematic collection and objective evaluation of data related to past occurrences in order to [.] test hypotheses concerning causes, effects or trends of those events that may help explain present events and anticipate future events”.Case study as a research method is the employed when “the phenomenon under study is not readily distinguishable from its context.

” The aforesaid phenomenon could either be a project or a program involved in an evaluation study. Situations which usually call for a case study are those in which a phenomenon (a program or project) has a problem with its context as in the implementation of computers in schools. The phenomenon here is the program of the implementation of computers and the context is the school.Action research is defined as a “form of collective self-reflective inquiry undertaken by participants in social situations in order to improve the rationality and justice of their own social or educational practices, as well as their understanding of these practices and the situations in which these practices are carried out.

The approach is only action research when it is collaborative, though it is important to realize that the action research of the group is achieved through the critically examined action of individual group members”.

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