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A case study’s goal is to learn as much as possible about a subject or group so that it can apply to various people. Unfortunately, case studies’ findings are difficult to extrapolate to a larger population due to their highly subjective nature. Numerous disciplines, such as psychology, medicine, education, anthropology, political science, and social work, can benefit from using case studies.
When should you conduct a case study?
A case study is an effective research design when you want to achieve concrete, contextualized, and in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to investigate the case’s key characteristics, meanings, and implications.
Case studies are frequently an excellent choice for a thesis or dissertation. They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to conduct extensive research.
You could conduct a single complex case study to investigate a single subject thoroughly, or you could conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.
Types of case studies
Case studies can take several different forms, which psychologists and other researchers may use.
Collective case studies: These entail researching a group of people. A community or a particular group of people may be the subject of a survey. For instance, psychologists would investigate how a community’s resource accessibility has impacted the residents’ overall mental health.
Descriptive case studies: Descriptive theory is the basis of these studies. After additional observation, the data collected from the subjects are compared to the prevalent theory.
Explanatory case studies: These are frequently employed in causal analysis. In other words, researchers are interested in examining elements that might be to blame for specific events.
Exploratory case studies: These are sometimes used to introduce further in-depth research. As a result, researchers could gather more data before developing their study questions and hypotheses. Although a single person observes rarely, groups of observers do the job frequently.
Instrumental case studies occur when a person or group enables researchers to comprehend more than what is immediately apparent to observers.
Intrinsic case studies: When a researcher does a case study, they usually have a personal stake in the outcome. A notable illustration of how an intrinsic case study might help with the formation of a psychological theory is Jean Piaget’s observations of his children.
Intrinsic, instrumental, and collective case studies are the three basic types that are frequently employed. Learn about unusual cases using intrinsic case studies—instrumental case studies aid in understanding a more significant issue by examining a specific person. Looking at multiple instances at once can be helpful when conducting a collective case study.
How to write a case study
One can conduct a case study using various techniques, such as prospective and retrospective case study methodologies.
Methods used in prospective case studies involve observing a person or group of people to predict outcomes. For example, a group of patients may be under long-term observation to monitor the development of a specific disease.
Analyzing historical data is a step in retrospective case study methodologies. For instance, researchers might begin with an outcome, like a disease, then go back to examine data about the person’s life to identify risk factors that may have influenced the development of the illness.
Where to look for data
Researchers can use various sources and techniques to learn more about a person or organization. Researchers have identified six primary sources, including:
|Archival records||Census records, survey records, and lists of names are examples of archival records.|
|Direct observation||This approach entails watching the subject, frequently in a natural environment. While a solo observer may occasionally be employed, groups of observers are most frequently used.|
|Documents||Letters, newspaper articles, administrative records, etc|
|Interviews||One of the most significant ways to obtain data for case studies is through interviews. Structured survey questions may be used in an interview, as well as more open-ended inquiries.|
|Participant observation||It is referred to as participant observation when the researcher takes part in the event and watches the behaviors and results.|
|Physical artifacts||Tools, objects, instruments, and other artifacts|
- Case studies can be an effective research method, but they must be applied carefully. They are frequently most effective in circumstances where experimenting would be challenging or impossible.
- The particulars of the circumstance and the case itself determine the kind of case study that psychologists use.
- Case studies adhere to a structure comparable to other forms of psychological writing, even though they concentrate on a single person or group.
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Q1. What does a case study aim to accomplish?
Ans. A case study is a research methodology that produces a thorough, multifaceted understanding of a complex problem in its actual setting. It is a well-known research strategy widely applied in various fields, especially the social sciences.
Q2. Why is a case study important?
Ans. In contrast to the singular viewpoint you obtain from a survey or interview response, case studies collect a variety of opinions. Obscuring a specific person’s agenda provides an opportunity to comprehend the topic better and lowers the likelihood of bias.
Q3. An ideal case study should be how long?
Ans. According to most resources, an average case study is 500–1500 words long. In addition, we advise you to include a summary section of no more than 100 words. Most of the words in the paper should be in the results and benefits section. Keep your word count to a minimum.