Students entering the academic environment are faced with various scientific methodologies, and the case study is one of the most used in higher-level research.
Below, we delve deeper into this concept so you can understand how this study method works, its importance for the development of academic activities and some useful tips for you to create a case study effectively, in accordance with the requirements of higher education institutions. Good reading!
What is a case study?
The case study is a scientific methodology that allows the researcher to investigate a phenomenon in depth within its real context. This method is widely used in different areas of knowledge, among the most common are psychology, sociology and administration.
A case study can be descriptive or exploratory. In the descriptive modality, the objective is to describe a phenomenon in detail. In its exploratory application, the aim is to explore an object of study to generate hypotheses and theories.
What is a case study for?
The main advantage of the scientific case study methodology is that it allows the researcher to better understand complex phenomena within their real context. This can be useful to generate new hypotheses and theories about the phenomenon studied.
Below, we detail this concept so you can understand its impact when using this method, including its applications. Check out!
Understand the importance of this study
The case study is an important tool for scientific research as it allows a more detailed and in-depth investigation into the object studied.
The most significant benefit of case studies is that they allow for a more comprehensive review.
Unlike isolated research techniques, which provide more instantaneous information, for example, a case study offers the opportunity for a researcher to use a variety of tools on a subject.
This gives time and space to build a detailed understanding of the topic, laying a solid foundation for exploring the factors influencing the case study in more detail.
And the main positive impacts
The impacts of the case study methodology may vary depending on the objective, type and area studied. In general, some positive impacts are:
- allows a broader and more detailed understanding of the phenomenon studied;
- enables the identification and solution of practical problems;
- contributes to the development of new theories or hypotheses;
generates credibility and trust for the study author and the proposal presented.
This scientific method also has a great impact on qualitative research and studies in social sciences, as researchers in this area often resort to this methodology.
In which contexts is it efficient to apply a case study?
A case study can be applied in different contexts in scientific research, depending on the objective and area of knowledge. Some examples are:
- explore, describe or explain a relevant and multifaceted social phenomenon;
- evaluate the effectiveness or quality of a clinical intervention or health program;
- investigate pedagogical practices or learning processes in different educational contexts;
- analyze the performance or management of an organization or an administrative process.
These are just a few examples of contexts for applying a case study in scientific research. There are many others possible, depending on your area of activity and your interests.
How to create a case study?
A case study research project usually involves qualitative methods, and it is essential to follow some basic steps to begin investigations. Below we delve deeper into the main steps. Check out!
1. Select the case
Once you’ve defined your research problem, you should be ready to choose the specific case you want to focus on. A strong case study ought to have the capacity to:
Offer fresh or unexpected perspectives on the subject;
challenge existing assumptions and theories;
propose practical courses of action to solve a problem;
open new directions for future research.
2. Build a theoretical framework
Although case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should generally have some connection to the theory of the field studied.
This means that the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge on the topic.
To ensure that your case analysis has a solid academic basis, you must carry out a bibliographical review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework.
3. Collect your data
Case studies frequently concentrate on qualitative data using techniques including observations, interviews, and secondary and primary source analysis (e.g., newspaper articles, images, and government records). Sometimes quantitative data may also be collected .
4. Describe and analyze the case
When writing the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to provide as complete a picture of the subject as possible.
The way you report your discoveries, including in undergraduate research , depends on the type of research you are doing.
Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific article or thesis, with separate sections or chapters for methods, results, and discussion.
Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from multiple angles and analyze its meanings and implications (for example, using textual or discourse analysis).
In all cases, however, be sure to provide contextual details about the research, connect it to literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into broader patterns or debates.