Case Study Research: Definition and Categories

Cases Study Research Definition and Types

Case study research has undergone significant methodological development to provide a more in-depth understanding of issues from various fields of study. Changes have mostly occurred due to a researcher’s personal preference and interpretation of the design. This has resulted in a variety of case study research definitions. The most common answer to what a case study is centered on a systematic investigation of an issue, individual, or any other variable.

Regardless of what your definition is, the purpose of the case study has remained the same. Every case study makes it easier to understand complex issues and apply them to real-world situations. That is why a case study is applicable in a wide range of disciplines such as:

  • Clinical science
  • Psychology
  • Education
  • Political science
  • Administrative sciences
  • Other social and life sciences disciplines.

What makes this method unique is because it often examines a single subject. It is used when conducting empirical research. But in some cases, a case study research can be used to carry out comparative investigation between two or more subjects. The methods applied to study a specific case may fall under qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods.

The qualitative method, which is viewed as macro or micro in nature, has a unique advantage. It makes it impossible to generalize the findings and relate or apply them to other situations.

Types of Case Study Research Methods

The differences in the type of case studies occur because some are based on formulating a hypothesis. Once a thesis is stated, it has to be proved. On the other hand, some focus on providing more information about a particular subject. However, you can also get methods that investigate relationships between items.

There are four main types of case studies: critical, exploratory, illustrative, and cumulative.

  1. Exploratory

This case study applies when conducting a large scale research project. Its main aim is to prove that further investigation on the subject or topic is necessary. An exploratory case study is often called a pilot case because it is done before the primary research. But if it is convincing enough, it can be seen as a conclusion, thus released prematurely. It is popular in the social sciences and psychology.

  1. Cumulative

This method involves the collection of information from various studies, which allows for generalization. As a result, it often cuts on time and money needed to expound on new research. When using a cumulative case study, it’s common to find differences between two unrelated subjects.

  1. Critical

It is the ideal option when trying to answer or determine causes and effects. This research method uses one or more sources to investigate an area of interest. It doesn’t allow generalization.

  1. Illustrative

This is a type of descriptive study that utilizes an unfamiliar case to help people understand it. The method uses one or two instances of an event or phenomenon to illustrate what a real situation could be like. It describes a problem and provides enough details of the topic in a simple manner to allow the reader to come to a solution. Case study research is a great education tool that has resulted in an amazing breakthrough.

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