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How to Find: Case studies

How to find

Case studies

What is a case study?


A case study is a research approach that investigates a topic or issue by focusing on a representative person, group of people, or other sample. Observations and conclusions gained through these focused investigations are then (tentatively) applied to larger populations.


Case studies are often used in the social and health sciences, but may also be employed in other subject areas. A good case study avoids overgeneralisations, is forthcoming about its limitations (such as small population sizes), and examines a wide range of factors that could explain a particular outcome.

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Why use a case study?


A case study allows researchers to investigate large and complex problems in a manageable way. It's not always possible to look at an entire population, but identifying a representative sample allows researchers to draw conclusions that may apply beyond the sample size.


Case studies will often:


  • Contain both quantitative and qualitative data, allowing for a rich level of detail when exploring a particular issue.
  • Examine a number of different variables, allowing for a more holistic understanding of a situation or intervention.


Searching for case studies


Case studies are often published in journals for an academic or professional audience. When searching you will need to keep this in mind, and use appropriate discipline-specific language to increase your chance of success.


Many of the library's databases will allow you to limit your results to case studies. Look for options to do this in fields like document type, publication type or article types.


If you don't see an option to limit to case studies on the database you are searching, you can include "case study" or "case studies" as a search term.


The ProQuest database allows you to restrict your search so that only case studies are searched. Restrict your search to 'case study' in the document type options


Where can I find case studies?