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Pros and Cons of Using a Case Study in Research

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Pros and Cons of Using a Case Study in Research

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  • April 19, 2013
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Introduction
Case Study
Case study research is an investigation of a “bounded system” or a case or multiple cases over time through detailed, in-depth data collection involving multiple sources of information (e.g., observations, audio-visual materials, reports, etc.) (Creswell, 1998). During data collection, Yin (1989) recommended six types of data collection for case studies: 1) documentation; 2) archival records; 3) interviews; 4) direct observations; 5) participant observations; and 6) physical artifacts. Case studies are bounded as they are reflective of a particular program, event, individual, or activity being studied at a particular place and time. Thus, Merriam (1988) described a case study as “an examination of a specific phenomena such as a program, an event, a person, a process, an institution, or social group” (p. 9).

Over the years, case study research has evolved from its anthropological and sociological origins (Hamel, 1993). Case studies today have embraced a variety of approaches upon which to conduct case study research. According to Yin (1989) quantitative and qualitative inquiry are approaches to conducting case study research. Yet, Merriam (1988) promotes a more general approach to qualitative case studies. When conducting case studies, the type of case must be chosen. Depending on the situation, intrinsic case study-this may be used because of its uniqueness; an instrumental case study- which illustrates a particular issue; or a collective study-which more than one case is considered for exploration (Stake, 1995). Within case studies, purposeful sampling is commonly used as it allows the inquirer to select cases that expose multiple perspectives on the problem, event, individual, or issue they want to present (Creswell, 1998). In presenting the fruits of ethnographic inquiry, the inquirer narrates the story in chronological order of major events followed by a more detailed perspective of other events. In case studies, the exploration...