In case study mapping a topic of particular interest then I believe there’s a good reason for this. The whole point of the case study mapping is to get inside the mind of the reader. What exactly does it take to get inside the head of the reader? What’s the key selling point, the highest selling point, the most attractive feature of this product, this course, this university, this PhD? This is what the case study map is about.
You might have seen the term ‘case study’ used in some context but not necessarily with the narrower sense associated with this popular use of the phrase. When it comes to case studies, it’s important to be aware of the wider definition. It’s also useful to note that within the narrower meaning of case studies is not confined to research studies and empirical methods and so on, but extends to descriptive methods as well. If that’s the case study you’re looking for, then you’re looking in the wrong place. In this case study mapping is simply descriptive, limited to the scope of the qualitative research methodology and, as such, not a true form of qualitative research methodology.
Some of the popular uses of the term case studies tend to be put into context by people involved in the actual creative process, whether it’s writers designers, public administrators, salespeople, academics, consultants, accountants, marketing managers, marketing professionals, entrepreneurs, finance managers, advertising agencies, public administrators, government officials, law enforcement officials, accountants, or lawyers. However, the fact is that many other disciplines also engage in using case studies, sometimes with rather different goals in mind. For example:
Case study mapping has been found to provide a rich source of information for those involved in the field who wish to understand the case study methodology better. This kind of descriptive information can help people working in a variety of disciplines to better understand and interpret their own work. In addition, a case study can serve as a rich source of ideas and concepts for those outside the discipline, helping them construct their own interpretative model. Case studies can provide a valuable tool for review and comment, as well.
For example, case study research can provide great inspiration for design concepts and methodologies, helping both practitioners and creative directors bring together their work and their audience to find creative solutions to complex problem. Case studies can help generate new and innovative concepts and solutions to complex organizational and business problems. In addition, case studies can be used as an excellent source of data for research studies, which can prove useful to those interested in understanding a specific topic more deeply. Finally, case studies can be used as a powerful reference guide in an oral communication class, or as a powerful resource for reading purposes in a textbook or other in-depth research.
There are several ways to analyze case studies, both qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative case studies typically use various types of interviews, focus groups, as well as primary sources such as personal documents and case histories. Quantitative case studies are more often used for in-depth statistical documentation of quantitative results or for reporting multiple set of results from case studies. These methods allow researchers to examine the relationships among variables, identify trends, draw general conclusions about the data, and to examine relationships among variables that may not have been considered in qualitative case studies.
The process of evaluating case study research methods is crucial to the success of any qualitative project. As such, practitioners should make sure that all methods are part of a coherent research methodology. The key to good qualitative case study research methodology is developing a common vocabulary that can describe the different types of case studies. Additionally, it is important to describe the methodology in terms that are easy to explain to participants. Lastly, the focus of any evaluation should be to help practitioners understand the main results that can be drawn from case studies.