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Case Study Research Design

What is a Case Study?

❶Research Designs - This web link explores the main types of research design and provides additional links for more information.

What is a Research Design?

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Every experimental design must make compromises and generalizations , so the researcher must try to minimize these, whilst remaining realistic. For biology, psychology and social sciences, there can be a huge variety of methods to choose from, and a researcher will have to justify their choice. The first method is the straightforward experiment, involving the standard practice of manipulating quantitative, independent variables to generate statistically analyzable data.

Generally, the system of scientific measurements is interval or ratio based. The researcher is accepting or refuting the null hypothesis.

The results generated are analyzable and are used to test hypotheses , with statistics giving a clear and unambiguous picture. This research method is one of the most difficult, requiring rigorous design and a great deal of expense, especially for larger experiments. The other problem, where real life organisms are used, is that taking something out of its natural environment can seriously affect its behavior. It is also the biggest drain on time and resources, and is often impossible to perform for some fields, because of ethical considerations.

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was a prime example of experimental research that was fixated on results, and failed to take into account moral considerations. In other fields of study, which do not always have the luxury of definable and quantifiable variables - you need to use different research methods.

These should attempt to fit all of the definitions of repeatability or falsifiability , although this is not always feasible.

Opinion based research methods generally involve designing an experiment and collecting quantitative data. For this type of research, the measurements are usually arbitrary, following the ordinal or interval type. Questionnaires are an effective way of quantifying data from a sample group, and testing emotions or preferences. This method is very cheap and easy, where budget is a problem, and gives an element of scale to opinion and emotion. These figures are arbitrary, but at least give a directional method of measuring intensity.

By definition, this experiment method must be used where emotions or behaviors are measured, as there is no other way of defining the variables. Whilst not as robust as experimental research , the methods can be replicated and the results falsified.

Observational research is a group of different research methods where researchers try to observe a phenomenon without interfering too much. The truth probably lies between the two and it is probably best to try and synergize the two approaches.

It is valid to conduct case studies but they should be tied in with more general statistical processes. For example, a statistical survey might show how much time people spend talking on mobile phones, but it is case studies of a narrow group that will determine why this is so. The other main thing to remember during case studies is their flexibility.

Whilst a pure scientist is trying to prove or disprove a hypothesis , a case study might introduce new and unexpected results during its course, and lead to research taking new directions. The argument between case study and statistical method also appears to be one of scale. Whilst many 'physical' scientists avoid case studies, for psychology, anthropology and ecology they are an essential tool. It is important to ensure that you realize that a case study cannot be generalized to fit a whole population or ecosystem.

Finally, one peripheral point is that, when informing others of your results, case studies make more interesting topics than purely statistical surveys, something that has been realized by teachers and magazine editors for many years. The general public has little interest in pages of statistical calculations but some well placed case studies can have a strong impact. The advantage of the case study research design is that you can focus on specific and interesting cases.

This may be an attempt to test a theory with a typical case or it can be a specific topic that is of interest. Research should be thorough and note taking should be meticulous and systematic. The first foundation of the case study is the subject and relevance. In a case study, you are deliberately trying to isolate a small study group, one individual case or one particular population. For example, statistical analysis may have shown that birthrates in African countries are increasing.

A case study on one or two specific countries becomes a powerful and focused tool for determining the social and economic pressures driving this. In the design of a case study, it is important to plan and design how you are going to address the study and make sure that all collected data is relevant. Unlike a scientific report, there is no strict set of rules so the most important part is making sure that the study is focused and concise; otherwise you will end up having to wade through a lot of irrelevant information.

It is best if you make yourself a short list of 4 or 5 bullet points that you are going to try and address during the study. If you make sure that all research refers back to these then you will not be far wrong. With a case study, even more than a questionnaire or survey , it is important to be passive in your research. You are much more of an observer than an experimenter and you must remember that, even in a multi-subject case, each case must be treated individually and then cross case conclusions can be drawn.

The researcher will then develop a research problem related to the topic and create a specific question. The research design will then be developed and the procedures for analyzing the data will be identified. The results of the research will hopefully lend themselves to the publication of a scholarly article.

There are two main approaches to a research problem - quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods are used to examine the relationship between variables with the primary goal being to analyze and represent that relationship mathematically through statistical analysis. This is the type of research approach most commonly used in scientific research problems. Qualitative methods are chosen when the goal of the research problem is to examine, understand and describe a phenomenon.

These methods are a common choice in social science research problems and are often used to study ideas, beliefs, human behaviors and other research questions that do not involve studying the relationship between variables. The following table lists and describes the most common research designs used at Grand Canyon University.

Different research books will use different terms for similar types of research. However, the research designs identified in this document are fairly common in terms of their use and their terminology. Explore the relationship between two or more variables through a correlational analysis.

The intent is to determine if and to what degree the variables are related. It does not imply one causes the other. Intent is to study and understand a single situation, which could be a leader, a classroom, a process, program, activity. Collect a variety of material in a specific and bounded time period. This is also used for historical studies, when collecting historical data to understand and learn from the past.

Compare two groups with the intent of understanding the reasons or causes for the two groups being different. Test an idea, treatment, program to see if it makes a difference.

There is a control group and a test group. Individuals are randomly assigned to the two groups. One group gets the treatment test group and the other group control group does not get the treatment. There is a pre and post-test for both groups in a traditional experimental design.

It is the same as experiment in that there is a control and test group. However, current groups are used as is rather than randomly assigning people to the two groups. Both groups receive the pre and post- test in a traditional design. Studies a human experience at an experiential level such as understanding what it means for a woman to lose a child. It is about understanding the essence or meaning of the experience.

What is a Research Method?

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The research design for this study is a descriptive and interpretive case study that is the project management approach envisaged for this study. Chapter 4: Hermeneutics is a. Chapter 4: Research methodology and design. Chapter 4: Research methodology and design research. 4 of.

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Research Approach R esearch approaches are plans and the procedures for research the research design that is related to this worldview, and the specific methods or procedures of research that trans-late the approach into .

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Discussion of research approach is a vital part of any scientific study regardless of the research area. Within the methodology chapter of your dissertation to you need to explain the main differences between inductive, deductive and abductive approaches. Basic Research Designs. The reliability and validity of the results depends on upon proper selection of the research approach and design. Forms of Research. Research is a systematic inquiry used to describe, explain, predict or control some observed phenomenon - the research topic.

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Others argue that research design refers to the choice of specific methods of data collection and analysis. In your dissertation you can define research design as a general plan about what you will do to answer the research question. [1]. WHAT IS RESEARCH DESIGN? 1 THE CONTEXT OF DESIGN Before examining types of research designs it is important to be clear about the role and purpose of research design. We need to understand what research design is and what it is not. We need to know where methods design design. THE CONTEXT OF DESIGN.