Criteria and misconceptions of case studies.

4. Criteria and misconceptions of case studies.



Case study provides a systematic and scientific way of perceiving or examining
events, collect data, analyse information, and prepare a report. As a result the
researcher may gain a sharpened understanding of why the instance happened as
it did, and what might become important to look at more extensively in future
research. Case studies lend themselves to both generating and testing hypotheses.
In other words, case study should be defined as a research strategy, an empirical
inquiry that investigates a phenomenon within its real-life context. Case study
research means single and multiple case studies, can include quantitative evidence,
relies on multiple sources of evidence and benefits from the prior development
of theoretical propositions. Case studies based on any evidence of quantitative
and qualitative research.
Single subject-research provides the statistical framework for making inferences
from quantitative case-study data. According to Lamnek (2005) “The case study
is a research approach, situated between concrete data taking techniques and
methodologic paradigms.”
In the past years, case study method was used in the field of clinical psychology
to examine the patient’s previous history regarding the person’s mental health
status. To know about the patient’s physical and mental health, and to make an
accurate diagnosis, it is very important to know about the patient’s past and
present health related and environmental problems and issues.
Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud used case study method to assist his subjects in
solving personality problems. The detailed accounts of interviews with subjects
and his interpretations of their thoughts, dreams and action provide excellent
examples of case studies. Guidance counselors, social workers and other
practitioners conduct case studies for diagnosing particular condition or problem
and recommending remedial measures. They collect data from a particular
individual and confine their interest to the individual as a unique case or collect
data from a small group of individuals, which form a unit for depth study.
The case study approach is based on reality. Some of these studies have been
conducted in school environment, which have mostly centered on behavioural
problems of children. Observation, interviews, psychological tests and inventories
have been used for collecting relevant data about the case or cases. However,
subjective bias is a constant threat to objective data gathering and analysis
techniques. The researcher must be thoroughly familiar with the skills which are
associated with the conduct of case-studies


For selection of cases for the case study, we often use information oriented
sampling. Our cases are based on this only information, which is mostly based
on the extreme cases or typical cases. The average case is often not the richest in
information. Extreme or a typical case reveals more information because they
activate more basic mechanisms and more actors in the situation studied.
In addition, from both understanding oriented and action oriented perspectives,
it is often more important to clarify the deeper causes behind a given problem
and its consequences, than to describe the symptoms of the problem and how
frequently they occur, etc.
Random samples emphasising representativeness will seldom be able to produce
this kind of insight. It is more appropriate to select a few cases for their
validity, but this is not always the case. Three types of information oriented
cases may be distinguished:
• Critical cases
• Extreme or deviant cases
• Paradigmatic cases

There is little misconception about the case study for using in research work.
Flyvbjerg (2006) define five misconceptions about case study research:
1) Generally, theoretical knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical
knowledge, because one cannot generalise on the basis of an individual
case and, therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific
2) The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses, whereas other
methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building.
3) The case study may affect the bias tendency toward verification, i.e., a
tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions.
4) Some time it is difficult to summarise and develop general propositions and
theories on the basis of specific case studies.

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