Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Reading :: Case Study Research: Design and Methods

Originally posted: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 18:49:08

Case Study Research: Design and Methods

by Robert K. Yin

This book is a classic handbook for conducting case studies. I remember reading it in grad school and again when I was preparing to conduct a study at Texas Tech; I particularly remember its impassioned defense of case studies as a legitimate and rigorous approach. So when I began preparing for my qualitative methods class (to be taught in spring 2005), I got a copy of the third edition.

In addition to an impassioned defense of the case study, Yin discusses what case studies are and are not. Case studies, he says, are not strictly qualitative; they can be quantitative as well. They are best performed in pairs or in greater sets, since this allows comparisons. They should have several types of validity. They can draw on six sources of evidence. You get the idea: the book catalogues the basic moves of conducting a case study with exhaustive taxonomies.

Yin illustrates each of these points with brief descriptions of classic or exemplary studies. None of these descriptions is especially captivating, to my mind, and neither is the book -- a workmanlike affair that makes its points, gets to where it needs to go, and gets out. Perhaps that is best for its genre -- a research handbook -- but I can see that I'll need to pair it with other, more interesting books if I use it in the class, which I probably will.

Case Study Research is not an exciting book. It does what it needs to do, though; there's a reason it's a classic.

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