Case Study Approach Example
As an example, let’s say the research objective is to determine if people feel safe from a
nuclear power plant meltdown. Archival research done during the literature review would
give an answer. But, things have changed. New fears and concerns, both rational and
otherwise, are now bubbling in the media and people’s minds. This would be an indicator
that new data would be needed. So a case study could be defined with a few apparent
boundaries: the scenario would be a nuclear power plant accident, the data set would be
people living 50 miles from a nuclear power plant, etc. The archival research would be
done to establish the baseline. Survey data would be gathered to establish the current
data on the fears of the population. Quantitative statistics would be developed that, for
the purpose of the example, indicate a shift in perception.
The case study, however, would still be incomplete. Interview research would then be
conducted to gather more rich and comprehensive data. Qualitative analysis tools would
be used to find themes, patterns, and primary facts and evidence. The perspective could
be ethnographic – is a minority population primarily impacted? – or phenomenological –
Do the survey participants have an existential fear of radiation? – or narrative – ‘My
great-grandparents homesteaded in this house…’.
Once complete and written up, this type of case study would have great potential for
providing new knowledge to the human condition that is on par with any of the other
types of research.