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How to Analyze a Case Study

The unique nature of a case study lies not so much in the methods employed (although these are important) as in the questions asked and their relationship to the final outcome.

The case study is not only a research methodological approach, but it also is a way to focus an inquiry: what is to be studied. The case study differs from other research approaches in four ways. It is:

  1. More concrete, vivid and sensory rather than abstract examples.
  2. More contextual. In other words, the experiences are described in the context of the environment.
  3. Developed by reader interpretation. That is, the student brings her/his own experiences and understanding to the examination of the circumstances.
  4. Used to inductive reasoning: generalizations, concepts or hypotheses may emerge from examining the data.

The case study has advantages and disadvantages because it can illustrate the complexities of a situation. Also, case studies can show the influences of personalities on a situation.

To analyze a case study:

  1. Read it carefully.
  2. Make notes on the various issues that occur to you as you read the study.
  3. Note which facts are "important' in reaching a solution.
  4. Suggest 2 or 3 solutions.
  5. Pick the "best" solution (in your view) and defend your position.
thanks to patrick williams for template design
Last update 29 may 2006