Case Study Notes

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A case study is an empirical enquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon in depth and within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident. The case study inquiry copes with the technically distinctive situation in which there will be many more variables of interest than data points, and as one result relies on multiple sources of evidence, with data needing to converge in a triangulating fashion, and as another result benefits from the prior development of theoretical propositions to guide data collection and analysis.

Performing a case study entails:

Literature Review
Posing research questions
formal and explicit procedures
Protecting against threats to validity
Maintaining “chain of evidence”
Investigating and testing rival explanations

In advance of doing a case study:

Define the “case” being studied
Determine relevant data to be collected
What to do with data once collected

Decide: Exploratory, Descriptive or Explanatory research purposes?

How to choose a research method given a research question type:

How, Why: Experiment iff controllable events, else history or case study Who, What, Where, How Many, How Much: Survey, Archival Analysis

Case study applicability: “How” or “Why” questions, in-depth explanation of social phenomena, contemporary events, little or no control over events. Well-formed research questions = Who, What, When, Where, Why, How Choose research method based on RQ’s, then reformulate RQ’s to match the research method. Chapter 2: Research Design

Components of research design:

Study’s questions
Propositions
Units of analysis
Logic linking data to propositions
Criteria for interpreting the findings

Research Design Quality (items covered in detail below)

Construct Validity
Correct operational measure for concept being studied Use multiple sources of evidence
Establish chain of evidence
Key informants review case study report drafts
Internal Validity
Causal relationships established
Pattern matching
Explanation building
Address rival explanations
Logic models
External Validity
Generalizing to what domain
Theory and replication logic
Literal replication across cases = same procedure -> same results Theoretical replication across cases = different procedure -> predictably different results Reliability

Reproducible
Case study protocol
Case study database

Keep in mind: Multiple cases != sampling. Different logical basis for generalization. Chapter 3

A good case study investigator:

Ask good questions
Good listener
Adaptive and flexible
Firm grasp of issues being studied
Unbiased by preconceived notions

Human Subjects Protection:

Informed consent: Informed as to nature of study, formal record of volunteerism Protection from harm, avoidance of deception
Protection of privacy and confidentiality
Protection of especially vulnerable groups

As pretraining, review:

Why the study is being done
What evidence is being sought
What variations can be anticipated
What would constitute supportive or contrary evidence for any proposition

Case study protocol: Per case instructions for the case study investigator.

Project goals, case study issues, readings
Field procedures:
Access & contact info for case site, procedural reminders Sufficient resources when in the field
Procedure for calling for assistance
Clear schedule of data collection activities
Provisions for changes in mood and motivation of investigator Case study questions to keep investigator on track, linked to potential sources of information Levels of question targets:...
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