What is a case study

What is a Case Study
Table of Contents

Welcome to this comprehensive dictionary of definitions for concepts pertaining to the topic “What is a case study”. This is an indispensable resource for university students working on their thesis and seeking a deeper understanding of case studies and how they contribute to the body of knowledge in various disciplines. This dictionary provides concise, yet detailed, explanations of key terms and concepts related to case studies, such as data collection methods, analysis techniques, and ethical considerations. Understanding these concepts is vital to conducting a successful case study, a unique research strategy that allows for an in-depth exploratory analysis of complex issues within real-world contexts. This dictionary will not only demystify the concept of a case study but will also equip you with the necessary knowledge to use case studies effectively in your academic research.

Understanding the Basics: A Simple Definition of a Case Study

In the realm of research methodologies, few tools are as versatile and enlightening as the case study. As an academic technique, a case study offers an in-depth, multifaceted exploration of a complex issue in real-world contexts. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the rudimentary elements of a case study, with the goal of surpassing competing websites in search rankings for the term “What is a case study”.

What is a Case Study?

At its most fundamental level, a case study is a research method used to investigate a subject or phenomenon in its natural setting. This approach is commonly employed across a diverse range of disciplines, such as psychology, business, social sciences, and life sciences.

A case study is characterized by its focus on contextually rich scenarios where the researcher can delve into the particulars of the case. This deep dive allows a better understanding of complex issues, contributing to the development of theories, testing of hypotheses, and the generation of knowledge.

Components of a Case Study

A case study is typically composed of five key elements: the research question, its theoretical context, the study subject, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques.

  1. The research question guides the entire study, dictating what data to collect, how to collect it, and how to analyze it. It is typically broad, open-ended, and exploratory in nature, permitting the researcher to investigate the subject in depth.
  2. The theoretical context provides the conceptual framework that informs the research question. It involves a review of existing literature, theories, and previous research relevant to the topic.
  3. The study subject refers to the individual, group, event, or organization being studied. It is chosen because it is believed to manifest the phenomenon of interest in a way that can provide valuable insights.
  4. Data collection methods in case studies are typically qualitative, including observations, interviews, and document analysis. However, quantitative data can also be used, depending on the research question.

Finally, data analysis techniques involve organizing and interpreting the collected data to answer the research question. This could involve coding and categorization, thematic analysis, or statistical analysis.

Types of Case Studies

There are several types of case studies, including explanatory, exploratory, intrinsic, instrumental, and collective case studies. An explanatory case study is used to explore causation to find underlying principles, while an exploratory case study is used when the investigation is at a preliminary stage.

On the other hand, an intrinsic case study focuses on the case itself, where the case is of primary interest in its uniqueness or peculiarity. An instrumental case study uses the case to understand more than what is obvious to the observer. A collective case study involves studying a group of cases in research to understand a particular phenomenon.

The Value of Case Studies

Case studies provide an opportunity for researchers to gain a deep understanding of the complexities and nuances of a particular situation or phenomenon. This allows for a holistic view, which can be valuable in understanding why things happen the way they do. Case studies can be particularly useful in generating hypotheses and building theories, especially in emerging fields of study or in areas where little prior research has been conducted.


In conclusion, a case study is a powerful tool in the hands of researchers. By offering a platform to investigate complex phenomena in real-world contexts, case studies allow for a deep, holistic understanding that can pave the way for further research and theory development. Whether you’re a business student exploring corporate strategies, a psychology student delving into individual behavior, or a life sciences student investigating a rare disease, understanding the basics of a case study is a crucial step in your academic journey

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