With the dominance of logical positivism from the 's through to the 's and 's case study methodology was viewed with skepticism and criticism. The development of grounded theory in the 's led to a resurgence in case study research, with its application in the social sciences, education, and the humanities.
Over the last 50 years, case study has been re-established as a credible, valid research design that facilitates the exploration of complex issues. While over time the contributions of researchers from varied disciplines have helped to develop and strengthen case study research, the variety of disciplinary backgrounds has also added complexity, particularly around how case study research is defined, described, and applied in practice.
In the sections that follow, the nature of this complexity in explored. There are a number of definitions and descriptions presented across the literature, which can create confusion when attempting to understand case study research. YIN's two-part definition focuses on the scope, process, and methodological characteristics of case study research, emphasizing the nature of inquiry as being empirical, and the importance of context to the case.
On the other hand, STAKE takes a more flexible stance and while concerned with rigor in the processes, maintains a focus on what is studied the case rather than how it is studied the method.
For STAKE case study research is "the study of the particularity and complexity of a single case, coming to understand its activity within important circumstances" p. These varied definitions stem from the researchers' differing approaches to developing case study methodology and often reflect the elements they emphasize as central to their designs.
The diversity of approaches subsequently adds diversity to definition and description. A further challenge to understanding case study research relates to it being referred to and used as both a methodology and a method.
MILLS distinguishes methods as procedures and techniques employed in the study, while methodology is the lens through which the researcher views and makes decisions about the study. The ambiguity about case study being either or both a methodology and method, is compounded by the terminology used in discussions about case study. Often these terms are used interchangeably without definitional clarity. For example, YIN discusses case study research and in the context of presenting case study, refers to it as a research method while emphasizing the procedures used.
He does not use the terms methodology or strategy. This mixed use of terminology is confusing given the definitional separations between methodology and methods and the varied application of case study in research endeavors. This distinction accentuates the need for researchers to describe the particular underpinning methodology adopted and to clarify the alignment of chosen methods used with their philosophical assumptions and their chosen approach.
Exploring the philosophical orientation of case study research and variations in different case study approaches can help to clarify these differences, and promote a better understanding of how to apply these principles in practice. Many methodologies are aligned with specific philosophical positions that guide the research process.
Philosophically, case study research can be orientated from a realist or positivist perspective where the researcher holds the view that there is one single reality, which is independent of the individual and can be apprehended, studied and measured, through to a relativist or interpretivist perspective.
In the context of healthcare research and specifically nursing, LUCK et al. Qualitative paradigms are broad and can encompass exploratory, explanatory, interpretive, or descriptive aims. Each methodology is unique in approach depending on the ontological and epistemological stance, however all stem from the motivation to explore, seek understanding, and establish the meaning of experiences from the perspective of those involved ibid.
These attributes are commonly exemplified in case study research. Like other forms of qualitative research, the researcher will seek to explore, understand and present the participants' perspectives and get close to them in their natural setting CRESWELL, Interaction between participants and the researcher is required to generate data, which is an indication of the researcher's level of connection to and being immersed in the field.
Because of this, constructivism and interpretivism commonly permeate the implementation of this research design. The researcher's perceptions and interpretations become part of the research and as a result, a subjective and interpretive orientation flows throughout the inquiry CRESWELL, In choosing a methodological position, careful consideration of the different case study approaches is required to determine the design that best addresses the aim of the study, and that aligns with the researcher's worldview.
Examples are provided of how these researchers' philosophical orientation influences the application of case study in practice.
YIN conceptualizes case study research as a form of social science. Post-positivism is evident in how he defines "case study as a form of empirical inquiry" p. YIN himself describes his approach to case study as using a "realist perspective" p. The goal of a postpositivist researcher is to use science as a way to apprehend the nature of reality while understanding that all measurement is imperfect.
Therefore, emphasis is placed on using multiple methods with triangulation to circumvent errors and understand what is happening in reality as close as possible to the "truth" LINCOLN et al.
The researcher will often categorize qualitative data to create quantitative data that can then be analyzed using statistical methods. Validity of research results are verified through the scrutiny of others and, as such, adherence to mechanisms that ensure rigor in data collection and analysis is vital.
Furthermore, postpositivists accept that everyone is inherently biased in worldviews, which ultimately influence how the methods used are deployed. Interaction with research subjects therefore needs to be minimized and subjectivity managed to avoid biasing the results ibid.
Embedded within YIN's case study design are the hallmarks of a postpositivist approach to research: While objectivity is a goal, YIN also recognizes the descriptive and interpretive elements of case study. According to YIN what makes case study research distinct from experimental studies is the case study is investigated in context, examined in its "real world setting" p.
Selection of cases is based on the purpose of the research and related to the theoretical propositions about the topic of interest. YIN suggests careful screening in the selection of cases to ensure specific relevance to the issues of interest and the use of replication logic: Precision, process, and practicality are core attributes of YIN's approach to case study. Design features are sequentially structured and motivated by empirical application.
This positioning reflects the axiology of postpositivism where maintaining intellectual honesty, managing bias, and acknowledging limitations, coupled with meticulous data collection and accurate reporting are critical elements in the conduct of research KILLAM, ; YIN, MERRIAM maintains a constructivist approach to case study research, whereby the researcher assumes that reality is constructed intersubjectively through meanings and understandings developed socially and experientially.
Like YIN , MERRIAM , asserts that when information is plentiful and concepts abstract, it is important to utilize processes that help interpret, sort, and manage information and that adapt findings to convey clarity and applicability to the results. MERRIAM acknowledges case study research can use both quantitative and qualitative methods; however, when working on qualitative case studies, methods aimed at generating inductive reasoning and interpretation rather than testing hypothesis take priority.
Cases are selected based on the research purpose and question, and for what they could reveal about the phenomenon or topic of interest. Interviews are the most common form of qualitative data collection, although MERRIAM does not stipulate prioritizing a particular method for data collection or analysis, she does emphasize the importance of rigorous procedures to frame the research process.
Advocating for careful planning, development, and execution of case study research, MERRIAM , discusses the pragmatic structures that ensure case study research is manageable, rigorous, credible, and applicable. Processes such as descriptive, thematic and content analysis, and triangulation are significant in ensuring the quality of a study, therefore, methods of data collection and analysis need to be organized and systematized with a detailed chain of evidence MERRIAM, According to BROWN , Merriam's style brings forth a practical application of pluralistic strategies that guide pragmatic constructivist research to derive knowledge about an area of inquiry.
STAKE , has an approach to case study research that is qualitative and closely aligned with a constructivist and interpretivist orientation.
While having a disciplined approach to the process and acknowledging that case study can use quantitative methods, STAKE's approach is underpinned by a strong motivation for discovering meaning and understanding of experiences in context.
The role of the researcher in producing this knowledge is critical, and STAKE emphasizes the researcher's interpretive role as essential in the process. An interpretative position views reality as multiple and subjective, based on meanings and understanding. Knowledge generated from the research process is relative to the time and context of the study and the researcher is interactive and participates in the study.
In terms of epistemology, STAKE argues that situation shapes activity, experience, and one's interpretation of the case. For STAKE , to understand the case "requires experiencing the activity of the case as it occurs in its context and in its particular situation" p. The researcher attempts to capture her or his interpreted reality of the case, while studying the case situationally enables an examination of the integrated system in which the case unfolds.
A case is selected because it is interesting in itself or can facilitate the understanding of something else; it is instrumental in providing insight on an issue STAKE, For STAKE, multiple sources and methods of data collection and analysis can be used, however, interviews and observations are the preferred and dominant data collection method.
In seeking understanding and meaning, the researcher is positioned with participants as a partner in the discovery and generation of knowledge, where both direct interpretations, and categorical or thematic grouping of findings are used. STAKE recommends vignettes—episodes of storytelling—to illustrate aspects of the case and thick descriptions to convey findings, a further illustration of his constructivist and interpretivist approach to case study research. BROWN suggests the three approaches used by these seminal researchers rest along a quantitative-qualitative continuum where the postpositivist methodology of YIN sits at one end, STAKE's interpretivist design , sits at the other end and MERRIAM , who as a pragmatic constructivist draws on the elements of both, rests toward the center.
BROWN sums up the influences of each, saying that "case study research is supported by the pragmatic approach of Merriam, informed by the rigour of Yin and enriched by the creative interpretation described by Stake" p. While some may argue that mixing qualitative and quantitative methods could threaten the veracity of the research BOBLIN et al.
Despite variation in the approaches of the different exponents of case study, there are characteristics common to all of them. Defining the case unit of analysis or object of the study and bounding the case can be difficult as many points of interest and variables intersect and overlap in case study research.
Bounding the case is essential to focusing, framing, and managing data collection and analysis. How the methods are used will vary and depend on the research purpose and design, which is often a variation of a single or multiple case study research design.
Interviews and focus groups, observations, and exploring artifacts are most commonly employed to collect and generate data with triangulation of methods and data, however, this is not exclusive. These elements delineate case study from other forms of research and inform the critical aspects of the research design and execution. Object of the case study identified as the entity of interest or unit of analysis.
Program, individual, group, social situation, organization, event, phenomena, or process. Subjectivity a consistent thread—varies in depth and engagement depending on the philosophical orientation of the research, purpose, and methods. Methods of data collection: Case study elements and descriptors [ 31 ].
As discussed earlier, ensuring the alignment of philosophy and methodology with the research purpose and methods employed underpins a rigorous research process STEWART, Clarity in this alignment is fundamental to ensuring the veracity of the research and depends on the design developed.
During this process, researchers are encouraged to "logically justify their philosophical position, research design and include a coherent argument for inclusion of varying research methods" LUCK et al. Collective alignment of these elements articulates a justifiable framework for the research study and cultivates trustworthiness and the validity, reliability and credibility of the research findings.
The authors describe case study as "a methodology, a type of design in qualitative research, an object of study and a product of the inquiry" p. They conclude with a definition that collates the hallmarks of key approaches and represents the core features of a case study:. Since the 's a broad scope of case study approaches have developed. This range accentuates the flexibility of case study research as a distinct form of inquiry that enables comprehensive and in-depth insight into a diverse range of issues across a number of disciplines.
While differences exist in some areas, commonalities are evident that can guide the application of a case study research design. Key contributors to the development of case study agree that the focus of a case study is the detailed inquiry of a unit of analysis as a bounded system the case , over time, within its context.
The versatility of case study research to accommodate the researcher's philosophical position presents a unique platform for a range of studies that can generate greater insights into areas of inquiry.
With the capacity to tailor approaches, case study designs can address a wide range of questions that ask why, what, and how of an issue and assist researchers to explore, explain, describe, evaluate, and theorize about complex issues in context. The backbone of qualitative research is extensive collection of data, typically from multiple sources of information. At this stage we consciously consider ethical issues.
No set format exists for planning a study. Several writers suggest general topics to be included in a written plan. The complete study contains data findings and a discussion as well as the problem or issue, research questions, methodology, and verification or validity. Qualitative research is complex, involving fieldwork for prolonged periods of time, collecting words and pictures, analyzing this information inductively while focusing on participant views, and writing about the process using expressive and persuasive language.
Moreover, researchers frame this approach within traditions of inquiry, and they engage in research to examine how or what types of questions, to explore a topic, to develop a detailed view, to take advantage of access to information, to write in expressive and persuasive language, to spend time in the field and to reach audiences receptive to qualitative approaches.
In designing a study, one works with broad philosophical assumptions; possible frameworks, problems, and questions; and data collection through techniques such as interviews, observations, documents, and audio-visual materials. Reducing the data into small categories or themes comes next, as does storing them and representing them for the reader in the narrative. The narrative assumes many forms--a theory, a description, a detailed view, an abstract model--and we know whether the narrative rings true using criteria about rigor, the philosophical assumptions of the design, detailed methods and approaches, and persuasive and engaging writhing.
The narrative will, in the end, reflect the creativity of the writer, although the plan for the study, the proposal, might follow several of the procedures being discussed in the literature. In the next chapter, we see how five authors shape these central elements of good qualitative research using a lens of a tradition of inquiry--the traditions of a biography, a phenomenology, a ground theory study, an ethnography, and a case study.
Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among the Five Traditions. Commit to extensive time in the field. Engage in the complex, time-consuming process of data analysis--the ambitious task of sorting through large amounts of data and reducing them to a few themes or categories. Write long passages, because the evidence must substantiate claims and the writer needs to show multiple perspectives. Participate in a form of social and human science research that does not have firm guidelines or specific procedures and is evolving and changing constantly.
The researcher plans a general approach to a study. Some issues are problematic for the qualitative research.
DEFINITION Like other words of the same ending, the term creation signifies both an action and the object or effect thereof. William D. Its value is based on the. descriptive research definition by creswell (Latin creatio.) I. An exploratory and descriptive study was .
Running head: DESCRIPTIVE AND INFERENTIAL STATISTICS 1 Descriptive and Inferential Statistics DESCRIPTIVE AND INFERENTIAL STATISTICS 2 Descriptive and Inferential Statistics Descriptive and inferential statistics are incredibly similar forms of research testing within psychology. Each seeks to analyze, describe, and possibly predict a population’s behavior.
Descriptive research design is a scientific method which involves observing and describing the behavior of a subject without influencing it in any way. RESEARCH DESIGN Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches JOHN W. CRESWELL UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA-LlNCOLN Creswell,[ohn W. Research design: Qualítative, quantitative. and mixed methods approaches/john W. • Define mixed methods research by incorporating the definition in.
Research design INTRODUCTION Descriptive research involves direct exploration, analysis and description of the While Creswell () states that purposive sampling refers to selection of sites or participants that will best help the researcher. Chapter 11 Descriptive and interpretive approaches to qualitative research Robert Elliott and Ladislav Timulak Qualitative research methods today are a diverse set, encompassing approaches such as.