All scientific researches conducted by a human were performed by trials and mistakes. Today, science has already reached a level where a set of available research methods allows getting objective results and reducing the possibility of a mistake to a minimum. This can be achieved through a comprehensive scientific slant.
What Is a Case Study Approach?
Case study approach definition is rather complex. This slant means the study of a phenomenon or event using scientific methods, the goal of which is to obtain data that reflects the objective reality. In practice, this slant is much broader than it is described in the definition. It is used by scientists in all areas of science and human activity without exception; it can use various methods of collecting data and analyzing it, setting discrepant goals and determining ways to achieve them, and giving discrepant results. However, in any situation, this slant is the most reasonable and rational.
Case Study Approach Methodology
The set of methods used can be discrepant depending on the area and direction of the study. All methods available to science can be discrepantly combined, but the main common feature is their theoretical and scientific validity.
Three types of methods are most often distinguished:
- Empirical research;
- Theoretical cognition;
- General ways.
Methods of empirical research include:
- The observation is a purposeful perception of a phenomenon in the course of which the researcher receives concrete factual material.
- The experiment is an active and purposeful interference in the course of the process under study.
- The comparison is an operation that reveals the similarity or difference of objects.
- The description is an operation, consisting in fixing the results of the experiment with the help of certain naming systems adopted in science.
- The measurement is a set of actions performed by certain means with the goal of finding the numerical indicators of the measured value in the accepted units of measurement.
There are following methods of theoretical cognition:
- The axiomatic method is a method of constructing a scientific theory, in which its base is made up of certain initial propositions.
- The hypothetic deductive method is a method of scientific cognition, the essence of which is to create a system of deductively interconnected hypotheses, from which eventually statements about empirical facts are deduced.
There are the next logical research methods:
- The analysis is the real or mental separation of the object into its constituent parts
- The synthesis is their unification into a single organic whole
- The abstraction is the process of mental diversion from a number of properties and relationships of the phenomenon under study with the simultaneous designation of properties interesting to the researcher.
- The modeling is a method of investigating certain objects by reproducing their characteristics on another object
- The system slant is a set of general scientific methodological principles (requirements), based on the consideration of objects as systems.
Case Study Approach in Qualitative Research
Qualitative research is one of the main tools in scientific investigation. It is used everywhere where the explorer needs to come into contact with the object under study. This type of work is especially relevant for sociology, psychology, and marketing since case study approach qualitative research within these areas implies a direct interaction between the researcher and other people. If the researcher does not have the data obtained directly from the participants or consumers, then the investigation itself, in this case, will not make sense.
The main features of this work are:
- Availability of highly qualified interviewers-analysts;
- Subjectivity (interpretation by the analyst of the collected data);
- Explanatory orientation;
- Use of a wide range of specific research methods and tools;
- A small amount of statistical sampling;
- The impossibility of distribution of conclusions in all similar cases.
An interview is the main method of conducting this type of research, and its kind can vary depending on the specifics of the study, an audience under research and the data an explorer wants to get.
How to Approach Case Study Interview
The interview consists in logically posing probing questions to find out the reasons for a certain behavior or views on a particular problem. This method helps to clearly understand the behavior of people in the emotional and personal aspects of their lives, in decision-making at the individual level, or to obtain data for the use of certain products.
The technology of quality interviews can be discrepant depending on its objectives.
- Narrative interviews are free storytelling about the life of the narrator without any interference from the interviewer, other than possible interjections of surprise or approval that stimulate and support the thread of the story. It is assumed that in the course of such a free presentation, the respondent recalls those episodes and moments that are of greatest subjective value to him in the memory. This allows identifying the most momentous “sense-forming” moments that construct his biography. After a narrative interview, it is possible to replenish the necessary data by additional questions.
- A semi-structured interview suggests in each of the thematic clusters a list of mandatory aspects regarding which data should be obtained. It is momentous to ask questions in the course of a free conversation, which is interesting to the interviewer. These questions should not violate the general course of the conversation, but should organically fit into the story as clarifications. The biographical interview is a kind of semi-structured, where the thematic blocks correspond to the sequence of the main stages of the life cycle of the respondent.
- The leitmotif interview allows investigating the dynamics of one and the same aspect of the individual’s life activity during discrepant periods of his biography.
- The focused interview suggests a discrepant tactic: it is necessary to learn as much as possible about only one life situation.
In general, the choice of strategy and tactics of the interview should be consistent with the research objectives. And it is momentous not to forget that during the narrative people trust the interviewer with their secrets, talk about joyful or painful moments of their life. The interviewer’s behavior should be as tactful as possible. It is not recommended to insist on further data deepening, even if it is of undoubted interest. It is more reasonable to return to the episode later and try again to ask a question.