Case Study Research: Design and Methods by Robert Yin

This is an important book to conduct a good research based on case study. Many researchers believe that case study is not a viable method for research and that doing a case study is easy but they are wrong. A good case study takes time and discipline and can explain and/or prove a hypothesis as any other method can. The key is to understand when a case study is a suitable method for a research.

The bad reputations that case studies have are based on the significant amount of bad case studies that exist. Most people think that just writing about a case will be a case study. A case study has to have a clear research methodology and the researcher should carefully prepare for conducting the case study.

This book clears the concept of case study and presents a guide on how to conduct a reputable case study. The author makes a clear definition of what is needed and how researches most prepare when they are going to conduct a case study. The book covers from the principle of when is useful to use a case study to how to write the final report of the case study.

One of the key aspects of this book is that while explaining every concept of a case study the author shows different example of cases studies that have used the concept just explained. This helps the reader clarify the explanation with clear examples. Also exercises can be found through the book to help the reader improve their skill in the matter discussed.

At a first glance Robert Yin explains the misconception that researches have over the usage of case studies as a research method. Most believe that case studies are easy and mostly not useful. Those that do provide some credit to this research methodology propose that a case study is only useful in exploratory way. Yin argues differently, case studies can be used for any type of research (exploratory, explanatory or descriptive) but researches have to find when using the case study is most useful. He argues that a case study is most useful when the subject to be study is focus on a contemporary event, which behavioral events can’t be control and the research questions is based  more on how or why.

The case study can provide an important tool that can be used as a unique method in a study or as one of many methods in a study. A case study can be used in a study that uses another research method as its main tool or a case study can incorporate other research methods to enhance its explanation. Yin argues that combining different methods in a study is more appropriate than just using one method, regardless of what method is being used.

Back on the case study, Yin argues that regardless if the case study is being use for exploratory, explanatory or descriptive it most have a clear view of where is headed and what it wants to achieve. Just like any other research method, a case study most have a clear framework based on the literature and hypothesis o propositions that want to clarify. It also needs to know the unit of analysis and the logic linking between the data and the proposition or hypothesis. Lastly a researcher conducting a case study most define the criteria for analyzing the date once collected.

Quality of the research design is important to secure a good case study and for this case studies most have construct validity, internal validity, external validity and reliability, just like any other research method. This secures the quality of the case study and that the findings have any relevance in the field.

Part of the design of a case study involves deciding the level of analysis and the amount of cases. A case study can be composed of a single case or of multiple cases. The more cases the more significant the findings can be. Also the case study can have one single unit of analysis or multiple units; this is regardless of the amount of cases. The level of unit of analysis will only determine the complexity of the case and how deep the study goes.

After knowing exactly what the case study will be of and how to be conducted the research most prepare for the collection of evidence. Yin enumerates the skill needed for doing this type of research and their relevancy to the outcome of the work. Most people don’t realize that they don’t have the skills for conducting a case study but still do them. Yin prepares a protocol so that the researcher knows exactly what their purpose is.

Once all of this is done the researcher most identify what type of evidence will collected and know the difference between them. This evidence can be documentation, archival records, interviews, direct observations, participant-observation or physical artifacts. Yin recommends using a variety of evidence simultaneously and proving your points by presenting different sources of evidence. Also Yin recommends creating a case study database so that both the researcher and others can identify where the data comes from and be able to utilize the date in a proper manner throughout the study. Also with this data base a chain of evidence should be maintain. These three recommendations will help the researcher keep track of his evidence while also allowing other to witness where the data come from. This increases the overall quality of the case study.

Analyzing the evidence once gather is important for concluding the case study and presenting the findings for this Yin argues that while the usage of computer tools can improve the analysis, it is still on the researcher job to understand and interpret the data. For this the case study can be based on pattern matching, explanation building, time series analysis, logic models or cross case synthesis.

Finally the book concludes on the reporting part of a case study. Yin proposes that the case study should be written as the work progress and not letting all for the end. When the case study has been planned then a draft of the literature review and the framework can be completed. By writing a draft as it progresses the researcher can become more familiarized with his own work and can have a more clear guidance on what he wants to accomplish.

Overall the book provides a clear and understanding guide on how to write a case study and the importance it has when is done right.

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