Finding Your Way in Research: Exploratory Case Studies

Finding Your Way in Research: Exploratory Case Studies
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The exploratory case study approach in research aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of answers to a specific research question, employing qualitative methods and multiple data collection techniques such as surveys, questionnaires, and focus group interviews. Rooted in the qualitative paradigm, particularly the case study method, the objective is to delve deeply into a particular case, offering perspectives on a previously uninvestigated field or issue. This approach, distinct from theory building or understanding abstract constructs, focuses on the nuanced exploration of a specific context, potentially guiding future research directions.

According to Merriam (1998), Patton (1990), Stake (1995, 2005), and Yin (2009), the case study approach investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between the phenomenon and its context are not clearly evident.

The researchers aim to describe the case, analyze themes present in the description, and make interpretations from the data. This multi-faceted approach involves incorporating data from various sources to attain a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon.

The study's driving force is the research question, and the purpose is to generate evidence-based answers. By consulting multiple data sources (by employing, for example, surveys, artefacts, and focus group interviews), the researchers triangulate data to offer a robust and multifaceted interpretation. Unlike studies aiming for broad theoretical implications, the exploratory case study prioritizes a detailed understanding of a specific case, potentially serving as a foundation for future research endeavors.

In essence, the researchers use the case study method to navigate the complexities of the real-life context in which a phenomenon occurs. The utilization of multiple data sources enhances the study's richness and validity, providing a nuanced exploration of the research question, seeking to contribute new insights and perspectives by closely examining a particular case and generating evidence-based answers to the research question.

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