Yin and Case Study Research Notes

Yin, R. K. (1994). Case study research: Design and methods (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


  • “In general, case studies are the preferred strategy when ‘how’ or ‘why’ questions are being posed, when the investigator has little control over events, and when the focus is on a contemporary phenomenon within some real-life context (p. 1).”
  • The Case Study as a Research Strategy

    • Some confuse case study research with the use of case studies as a teaching tool. The two are very different. They have different purposes and, therefore, have different requirements for construction and presentation. “Teaching case studies need not be concerned with the rigorous and fair presentation of empirical data; research case studies need to do exactly that (p. 2).”
  • Comparing Case Studies With Other Research Strategies

    • A case study can be exploratory, explanatory, or descriptive.
    • When to Use Each Strategy

      • A “what” question usually indicates an exploratory study. Exploratory studies are not always case studies.
      • “How” and “why” questions are typically case studies and they are usually explanatory in nature.
      • Research questions have both substance and form.
      • A case study must focus on contemporary events and have behavioral control over those events.
      • “The case study is preferred in examining contemporary events, but when the relevant behaviors cannot be manipulated (p. 8).”
      • Case studies require direct observation and systematic interviews.
      • The purpose of the literature review: “Budding investigators think that the purpose of a literature review is to determine the answers about what is known on a topic; in contrast, experienced investigators review previous research to develop sharper and more insightful questions about the topic (p. 9).”
    • Traditional Prejudices Against the Case Study Strategy

      • “The short answer is that case studies, like experiments, are generalizable to theoretical propositions and not to populations or universes (p. 10).”
      • Problems with case study: It’s perceived to be less rigorous because of poor examples.