You are here

Case Study Research in Practice

Case Study Research in Practice

March 2009 | 200 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

"With its highly readable style, this book is well suited to the needs of research students. Throughout it addresses the practicalities at a level that connects immediately to thorny issues in relation to the quality of the data, the quality of the analysis: in short the quality of the research." - Jane Payler, University of Winchester

Case Study Research in Practice explores the author's practical and uniquely personal approach to the theory and practice of case study research. Author Helen Simons draws on her extensive experience in conducting and teaching case study research to provide a comprehensive and insightful account of the process of conducting case study that tackles common misconceptions and addresses the questions often raised by students. In four sections, the book covers:

  • The rationale, concept and design of case study research
  • Methods and ethics in case study
  • Interpreting, analyzing and reporting the case.
  • Generalizing and theorizing in case study research

Including examples and summary memos the author has created a dynamic text that presents readers with choices and challenges to inform the conduct of their case research.

This is an ideal text for students studying and conducting case study research in education, health and social care, and related social science disciplines.

Evolution and Concept of Case Study Research
Planning, Designing, Gaining Access
Listen, Look, Document: Methods in Case Study Research
Who Are They? Studying Others
Who Are We? Studying Our 'Self '
Whose Data Are They? Ethics in Case Study Research
Mid-term Letter
Begin at the Beginning: Analysis and Interpretation
From Data to Story: Examples in Practice
Start at Any Point: Reporting and Writing
Dispelling Myths in Case Study Research

Each chapter is full of useful examples of research and wider range of reference.

Mrs Yetunde Akinnuoye
Health and Social Sciences, Middlesex University
February 10, 2014

Good book for gaining a good working knowledge for using case study - well written, logical and providing a great deal of help and tips.

Mrs Alicia Hawkes
Education, Totton College
July 16, 2013

The text book is very essential for medical and health care students who are interested and would like to conduct single or multiple case study research. The text book will guide students and support their thinking of planning and designing case studies. Methods of case studies well explored. The design of case studies in the field of practice give an overview to students on the variation of designs. The book will help and support students to be able to analyse and make sense of the analysis and how to interpret the findings. Finally it will guide students during the writing process of their research. The disadvantage of the book is that it is not designed for medical and health care students, however it can be tailored to answer their needs.

Dr Ahmed Younis
Rehabilitation Sciences, St.George's, University of London and Kingston University
February 15, 2013

Case study research in practice focuses on the development of case study research within the context of the field of education and educational evaluation. The book contains four sections and 10 chapters with the first chapter locating the practice of using case study research historically within evaluative qualitative research in the field of educational research and the social sciences. The remainder of the chapter outlines different types of case study which can be employed when conducting case study research. This chapter also includes a useful summary of the strengths and limitations of using the case study approach. Chapter two covers what determines the adoption of a case study approach and the methods employed to explore a particular research topic, as well as, planning and designing a case study and what to consider when attempting to gain access to research participants for the case study research. Chapter three discuss different methods used within case study research for gathering data about a case and provides guidelines to follow when documenting the data collected.

In section two chapter four begins by concentrating on what to expect from participants in terms of capturing and making sense out of their stories and lived experiences about a particular topic. It describes the importance of personal portrayals and accounts, life stories and anecdotal narrative as explorative and confirmative data gathered from case studies. The focus of chapter five is on the role of the researcher in case study research in relation to the procedures the researcher should follow when conducting research with the field in terms of where the researcher sees themselves in the research process. Chapter six discusses research ethics in relation to conducting case study research and ethical issues and dilemmas the researcher may be faced with out in the field, as well as, issues about research participant confidentiality and anonymity, representing the participants voice accurately and ownership of the data collected.

In section three chapter seven and eight examine different qualitative data analysis techniques with regards to the processes which can be employed. These chapters also cover data interpretation in terms of reflective thinking, observations, evaluating alternative interpretations and more, as well as validity, credibility, trustworthiness and authenticity.

In section four chapter nine provides helpful guidance about report writing and the importance of presenting a coherent story for the audience of the report and includes useful steps to take to improve upon report writing skills. The book concludes with chapter 10 tackling issues related to subjectivity, generalisation and theorising in relation to case study research in terms of providing justification for adopting a case study approach with regards to what a case study can and can not do when making claims about research findings.

This book is suitable for anyone contemplating undertaking case study research as part of a research project. The text is accessible in terms of reading level for both undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as educational researchers, policy makers and social scientists seeking to use case studies within their fields of research. This book can be used as a helpful practical guide for planning, designing and implementing case study research.

Mr Gary McKenna
School of Computing, University of the West of Scotland
February 4, 2013

Easy to read, helpful text appropraite for the needs of our students.

Clearly sets out suggestions for rationale and concepts and provides suggestions for designs for case studies.
Helpful summaries at end of chapters, useful for 'at a glance' re-cap. Suggestions of further readings helpful.

Miss Heulwen Price
Faculty of Education, Royal Academy of Dance
January 31, 2013

A useful highly practical text that is recommended to those students who are considering adopting a case study research design and has been valued, in particular, by those who have gone on to employ this approach in their main research project.

Dr Tony Cline
Educational Psychology , University College London
November 4, 2012

Examples not relevant enough to be recommended as supplemental source for business students.

Dr Anne Jervell
Department of Economics and Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
June 15, 2012

A useful supplementary text for students using case studies in their projects. It is easy to read and clearly laid out with plenty of preactical tips and examples.

Ms Amanda French
Dept of Education Studies, Wolverhampton University
May 13, 2011

Case Study Research in Practice
Helen Simons
London: Sage Publications Ltd.

The problem with Case Study is that it is too subjective, not generalizable and therefore of no use to anyone interested in developing policy. It is self-indulgence on the part of the researcher who has every opportunity of using the Case Report as a shield for promoting a personal agenda. Add to this the admission, early in the text, that, “There is no right way to do case study research” and the sceptic could be excused for dismissing the subject of this helpful book as an irrelevance.

Yet, in this enjoyable and accessible account, Helen Simons manages to persuade the reader that case study is a worthwhile approach to a deeper understanding of certain aspects of practice. In fact, it may be a more appropriate way of understanding and expressing a ‘lived experience’ than any randomised controlled trial within the scientific paradigm.

Her stated intention throughout is to provide support for students who are considering case study; “to strengthen their argument” if they choose this approach. This she achieves in a format that is clear and a style that is both personal and scholarly. Its tone is neither strident, nor ‘evangelical’; neither self-justifying nor defensive. Simons offers the advice of a willing, experienced and sympathetic supervisor, who often addresses the reader directly, in what is essentially a practical guide to the subject.

Scattered through the text are detailed examples, some over a page long, that illustrate important issues. There are also twenty ‘memos’ or bullet-pointed comments and instructions that provide a checklist on how to plan, execute and write (and even how to think!) case study.

Additionally there is a bibliography of over two hundred references, though their inclusion doesn’t interrupt the flow of the text. Concluding each chapter is a small list of books and articles for ‘further reading’ – with a short summary of the strengths and relevance of each.

Finally, Simons directly addresses the charges levelled at case study (above). She provides persuasive responses with the quiet self-confidence of someone who has carefully considered the subject.

This book is ideal for the adult learner, at postgraduate level, who is relatively new to the subject and who wishes to understand what case study has to offer as a research approach. It is likely that more detailed information would be needed with respect to some of the more commonly used methods within case study (e.g. interviewing). Other than such technical issues, this book, combined with a knowledgeable supervisor, would be all that was required to perform case study, albeit the student is likely to be surprised by the discipline required of them, despite the helpful warnings the book contains.

Clive Weston
Reader in Clinical Medicine
Swansea University

Dr Clive Weston
School of Medicine, University of Wales, Swansea
June 22, 2010

a good up to date defining view of case study rsch

Dr Bill Whitehead
nursing counselling and psychotherapy, Derby University
May 11, 2010

Helen Simons

For instructors

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9780761964247

SAGE Research Methods is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. SAGE Research Methods links over 175,000 pages of SAGE’s renowned book, journal and reference content with truly advanced search and discovery tools. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, it can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more.