Professor Malcolm Tight directs the doctoral program in the Department of Education Research at Lancaster University and is the author of Understanding Case Study Research: Small-scale Research with Meaning. That book, released by SAGE Publishing in January, offers a cross-disciplinary explanation of the types of case studies and their use.
Case study research is often derided as being small-scale and ineffectual, and as having little or no relevance beyond the particular case being studied. On the contrary, case study research can be effective and useful, providing it is done carefully and well. Case study research is – or should be – small-scale research with meaning. It should obviously have meaning for the case being studied, and for the researcher doing the studying, but its meaning can go much further than that. Provided that the researcher sets out in sufficient detail how the case was studied, and for what purpose, other interested researchers should be able to replicate the research. Typically, they will do so by studying a further case or cases – either similar to or different from the existing case – and, in this way, researchers will gradually build up a larger body of evidence on the issue of interest.