You are here

How to do your Case Study

How to do your Case Study
A Guide for Students and Researchers

248 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Case Study is one of the most widely applied methods of research and instruction in use today. Cases are used to frame research, aid teaching and help learning the world over. Yet, despite being so widely used, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about what constitutes case study research and how case studies should be designed and carried out.

In this lucid, accessible and often witty new text, Gary Thomas introduces students and researchers to the basics of case study research. Using a wide range of real-life examples, this  book sets how best to design and carry out case studies in the social sciences and humanities for those new to the method. How to do your case study: a guide for students and researchers deals with the core issues and methods that anyone new to case study will need to understand:

  • What is a case study?
  • When and why should case study methods be used?
  • How are case studies designed?
  • What methods can be used?
  • How do we analyze and make sense of our data?
  • How do we write up and write about our case?

How to do your Case Study will be essential reading for any student or researcher in the Social Sciences, Health Sciences, in Business Studies, in Education and the Humanities.

What Is a Case Study?
Case Study and Research Design
Models of the Whole
Ensuring Quality in Your Case Study: What's Important?
Kinds of Case Studies: Finding Your Case
Your Purpose
Your Approach
Your Process
Out in the Field: Some Ways to Collect Data and Evidence
A Toolkit for Analyzing and Thinking
Writing Your Study
The Fancy Stuff: Generalization, Induction, Abduction, Phronesis and Theory

This very readable and well crafted book should significantly advance thinking about the conduct of case study research. It impressively demonstrates, through well-selected examples, the uses of case studies within a wide range of disciplines and practical fields of study and dispels some popular misconceptions of this research genre in the process.
John Elliot
Emeritus Professor of Education, University of East Anglia

All chapters are clearly structured but with an eye for presenting variations of research designs, purposes, approaches, data collections and tools for analysis across applied social sciences and humanities. The chapters are written in a lively, engaged and personal manner - though highly academic and structured in their argumentation at the same time - and as a nice student-friendly communicative feature, each chapter finishes with a short section called "If you only take one thing from this chapter, take this..."... I can recommend Thomas' book as an inspiring and systematic companion to think and discuss with, where there is tolerance towards the wonderful variability of doing qualitative research.
Bente Halkier
Roskilde University

This particular text will replace a few “classics” on my shelf, and I plan to use the book when teaching my methodology courses.

P. Taylor Webb
University of British Columbia
Educational Review

I would recommend this valuable resource to any student conducting a case study for their Masters in Business Administration.

Mrs Mpho Mbeo
Business Administration , Central University of Technology
August 13, 2015

Excellent, clearly written book relevant to any student undertaking research in the field of nursing, where case studies are so applicable.

Mrs Julia Petty
School of health and social work, Hertfordshire University
March 16, 2015

A recommended read for students conducting a case study for their Education MA.

Mrs Jacqueline Young
Department Of Education, Sussex University
March 13, 2015

a well crafted as well as inspiring volume; easy to read, with plain language which clarifies many of the practicalities around doing qualitative research; I liked its format that each chapter finishes with the section called "If you only take one thing from this chapter..."; edition would benefit by including references to up-to-date case studies into the "further reading" section

Mr Georgios Zifkos
Business Management, York St John University
February 4, 2015

A very useful and straight forward text for those students planning this methodology for a dissertation

Mrs Julie Irwin
Learning and Teachong Directorate, Bucks New University
January 26, 2015

When doing a case study this book provides vital information to guide you through each step of the process, from the planning stages through to writing up the study.

The book should be next to you at all times during your case study as a useful tool to refer to if you are unsure at any stage.

Mr Andrew Faulkner
Business, South Devon College
December 7, 2014

Gary Thomas has attempted to write an accessible and jargon free text for case studies and has largely succeeded. His text is easy to read and offers a considered approach to employing qualitative research. This text should appeal to undergraduates and postgraduates engaged in research for the first time, more experienced researchers wanting a reference guide and also to lecturers or supervisors working on research methods or dissertation modules. The text is rich with examples to underpin points being made and useful inclusions are the 'If you take only one thing' at the end of each chapter providing clear and succinct pointers. The use of post-it-notes throughout the text are also very useful visual flags that emphasise important points.

Dr Mark Hickman
School of Sport, Tourism and The Outdoors, University of Central Lancashire
October 1, 2014

Very well written in accessible language. Gives very clear parameters of case study and valuable as a companion to more general texts.

Miss Deborah Caine
School of Nursing Sciences, Univ. of East Anglia
July 22, 2014

Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas is an emeritus professor of education at the University of Birmingham. His teaching and research have focused on inclusion, special education, and research methodology in education, with a particular focus on case study. He has conducted research funded by the AHRC, the ESRC, the Nuffield Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust, the Department for Education, Barnardos, local authorities, and a range of other organisations. He has coedited the British Educational Research Journal and is currently an executive editor of Educational Review. He is author of many books, most recently Education: A Very Short Introduction published by Oxford... More About Author