Role and design of a case study:
Case studies present the opportunity to study issues in depth.
There is a range of different types of case study. These include:
¨ Individual case study - a detailed account of a single case, exploring possible causes, determinants, processes and experiences;
¨ Set of individual cases - similar to an individual study, but describing and analysing a number of cases which have features in common;
¨ Study of an organisation or institution - to investigate processes and procedures, such as evaluating a process of change or identifying best practice; and
¨ Study of an event, role or relationship - to investigate the interplay of cause and effect.
A case study is a highly flexible research tool, which can be applied to many different situations and circumstances. It can use quantitative as well as qualitative data and draw upon historical records as well as contemporary evidence. A case study can also be used to follow up or expand upon a quantitative survey.
There are four main stages in designing a case study - developing a conceptual framework, preparing a set of research questions, deciding upon a sampling strategy and selecting the methods of data collection. Firstly, your literature review will have helped you to determine your conceptual framework. It may also have helped you to come up with research questions that you wish to answer. You then need to decide on how you will carry out your research, and which methods to use.