Elliot Mishler coined the term “case-centered research” to refer to the research approach that preserves the “unity and coherence” of research participants through the data collection and analysis process. Fundamental to case-centered research is its focus on complex social units (or “cases”) in their entirety as well as the emphasis on maintaining the cohesiveness of the social unit(s) throughout the research process. As discussed in Research Design Review back in 2013, two important examples of case-centered approaches are case study research and narrative research.
The complexity and need for cohesion in case-centered research present unique design challenges. Indeed, quality outcomes from case study and narrative research are the result of a well-defined process that guides the researcher from the initial conceptualization phase to data collecting in the field. Although the specifics within the process will vary from study to study, there exists an optimal design flow when implementing the case-centered research approach.
The appropriate path in case-centered designs, leading to data collection, involves the following six Read Full Text
Case-centered qualitative research is discussed elsewhere in this blog (in particular, see “Multi-method & Case-centered Research: When the Whole is Greater Than the Sum of its Parts”). It is generally defined as multiple-method research that focuses on complex social units or entities (or “cases”) in their entirety, while maintaining the cohesiveness of the entity throughout the research process rather than reducing the outcomes to categorical data. Two examples of case-centered research are: case studies – e.g., an examination of a city social program – and narrative research – e.g., a study of chronic illness among sufferers.
Ethical considerations are important in every research method involving human subjects but they take on added significance in case-centered research where researchers often work closely with research participants over a period of time and frequently in the face-to-face mode (where researcher-participant relationships play an important role in the research outcomes). Both case study and narrative research gather a great deal of highly Read Full Text
Multi-method research enables the qualitative researcher to study relatively complex entities or phenomena in a way that is holistic and retains meaning. The purpose is to tackle the research objective from all the methodological sides. Rather than pigeonholing the research into a series of IDIs, focus groups, or observations, the multi-method approach frees the researcher into total immersion with the subject matter. Multi-method strategies are particularly relevant in case-centered research such as case studies and narrative research. For instance, a case study concerning a state-wide drug prevention program might include IDIs with the program staff and volunteers, observations of program activities, group discussions with program participants, and a review of administrative documents. Similarly, a narrative study to explore the manner in which 8th grade science is taught in the city schools might be designed to include many methods in order to frame the narrative environment such as: in-class teacher observations, teachers’ lived stories Read Full Text