Basics of Developing Case Studies

Sections of this topic

    Basics of Developing Case Studies

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

    (NOTE: Much of the information herein was gathered from Michael
    Patton’s book, “Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods.”)

    Sections of This Topic Include

    Uses of Case Studies
    Developing a Case Study
    General Resources
    Sample Case Study Reports

    General Information and Resources
    Ethics and Conducting Research

    Also consider
    Related Library Topics

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Developing Case Studies

    In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which
    have posts related to Case Studies. Scan down the blog’s page to see various
    posts. Also see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of
    the blog or click on “next” near the bottom of a post in the blog.

    Library’s Business
    Planning Blog

    Library’s Building
    a Business Blog

    Library’s Strategic
    Planning Blog

    Uses of Case

    Case studies are particularly useful in depicting a holistic portrayal
    of a client’s experiences and results regarding a program. For
    example, to evaluate the effectiveness of a program’s processes,
    including its strengths and weaknesses, evaluators might develop
    cases studies on the program’s successes and failures. Case studies
    are used to organize a wide range of information about a case
    and then analyze the contents by seeking patterns and themes in
    the data, and by further analysis through cross comparison with
    other cases. A case can be individuals, programs, or any unit,
    depending on what the program evaluators want to examine through
    in-depth analysis and comparison.

    Developing a
    Case Study

    1. All data about the case is gathered.
    For example,
    if the study is to highlight a program’s failure with a client,
    data would be collected about the program, its processes and the
    client. Data could result from a combination of methods, including
    documentation (applications, histories, records, etc.), questionnaires,
    interviews and observation.
    2. Data is organized into an approach to highlight the focus
    of the study.

    In our example, data in the case would be
    organized in a chronological order to portray how the client got
    into the program, went through the program and did not receive
    effective services.
    3. A case study narrative is developed.
    The narrative
    is a highly readable story that integrates and summarizes key
    information around the focus of the case study. The narrative
    should be complete to the extent that it is the eyes and ears
    for an outside reader to understand what happened regarding the
    case. In our example, the narrative might include key demographic
    information about the client, phases in the program’s process
    through which the client passed and any major differences noticed
    about that client during the process, early indicators of failures
    and key quotes from the client.
    4. The narrative might be validated by review from program

    For example, the client for whom the program
    failed, would read the narrative to ensure it fully depicted his
    or her experience and results.
    5. Case studies might be cross-compared to isolate any themes
    or patterns.

    For example, various case studies about program
    failures might be compared to notice commonalities in these clients’
    experiences and how they went through the program. These commonalities
    might highlight where in the program the process needs to be strengthened.

    General Information

    Case Study — Wikipedia
    8 Tips for Creating a Great Case Study
    Case Study Tips
    Introduction to Case Study

    Sample Case
    Study Reports

    sample case study from the Leaders
    Circles program

    Clark provides several case studies (scroll down the page to find
    case studies)

    For the Category of Evaluations (Many Kinds):

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