Has it ever occurred to you why case studies are more valued than the standalone research techniques (e.g. surveys)? It’s simple. Case studies function as an in-depth investigation of a specific person, group, time-period, event or anything that is the focus of your research. With case studies, readers can get a holistic review of the research work. However, it is important for you, as a researcher, to pick the right case study for particular research. Otherwise, you may end up producing inaccurate results which can cause a loss of credibility. In the academic field, you cannot afford that as a researcher. If a person is unable to find an apt case study or finding it too difficult they might take some help from faculty, peers, or friends.
Here are some suggestions on how to make the right choice, in case you are having trouble choosing the case study for your research.
#1. Select a case that aligns with your topic of research
Choosing the right case study becomes a lot easier if you are clear about what you want with your research. Examine the area of study that you are choosing for your next research. Once you have the clarity of what you need with the research, you can look for case studies that complement the theme of the research.
In simpler words, your research should go hand in hand with the case study you choose. If you end up choosing a case study that hardly fits within the theme of the research, it is only going to break the flow of information.
Let’s say, you are working on a research topic within the area of the textile industry, but you choose a case study from literature. Even if the case study talks about the textile industry in the text, it isn’t going to make any sense to the readers. It is ideal if you can employ a case study within the textile industry. It will offer you raw data and responses from people who were/are a part of the industry, adding more value to your research.
#2. See if the case study has a universal applicability
Case studies often function as the sample for a group within a universe in which you are conducting the research. If you are choosing a case study that is not exactly applicable to the whole phenomena, your research is going to be unsuccessful. So, always choose a case study that has a universal appeal.
To determine which case study has the universal appeal, you may need to narrow down your choices for the case study and analyse them individually. It may be time-consuming, but it’s the most effective way to ensure the findings of the research are applicable to the whole occurring.
If you choose a particular textile company as a case study, make sure the findings are applicable for the other textile companies within the universe of the research. If the case study you have chosen operates like an exception, it is going to give incorrect results. Always confirm that the case study covers all the elements of the theory you are putting to test.
#3. Ensure the case study is relevant in today’s date
Relevance is one of the crucial factors that you need to keep in mind while choosing a case study. Just like the universal appeal, relevance is a basic element of a case study. Unless the case study is relevant to the readers and to the time of research, it is not going to be successful research.
It is recommended to choose a case study that is on the same page with the theme of the research. The research does not necessarily have to be based on current conditions. For example, you can explore the textile industries during the time of the industrial revolution. But then you need to choose a case study from that time-period only.
You also need to determine whether the findings of the research paper are going to make sense in today’s date, or add any value to the field of study. If the answer is no, you may need to reconsider the choice of case study as well as the research topic.
#4. Pick the right approach for case study selection
There are primarily two options for selecting case studies. Based on the requirements of the research, you can either choose a single case that functions as a sample, or select multiple cases that offer a broader overview. A single case is often chosen as the part of the holistic case study, while the multiple cases are chosen for the embedded case study.
In a holistic case study, you need to examine every aspect of the chosen subject. However, in an embedded case study, you should examine certain aspects of the chosen subjects and compare them to draw the inference.
The approach for case study selection depends solely on the requirements of the research you are conducting. Therefore, you need to study the research topic thoroughly and develop a better understanding of the requirements. Then only you can identify whether you need a single case study or multiple ones.
Case studies are undoubtedly time-consuming, but they are still considered the most effective tool by the researchers. Surveys, A/B testing, and other standalone research techniques may have some errors in the results. However, the right case study always delivers the most comprehensive results for research.
Author bio: Jedda Cain is a Philosophy professor at one of the renowned colleges in Australia. She has a PhD and has been serving in the field of academic for the past 10 years. She also offers assignment help to students on request.