- Doing Case Study Research – A Practical Guide for Beginning Researchers
- by Dawson R Hancock and Bob Algozzine
- Teachers College Press (Columbia University)
- Copyright 2006
- 81 pages
Rating (for pages 1-38) – 4.5 out of 10
About ten years ago, I published a case study in an academic journal. But I still don’t know how to write one. For the publication, I worked with a couple of colleagues and the three of us pooled our knowledge to finish the project.
Since then, I’ve been looking to better understand how to “write up” cases. In spring 2016, I read William and Margaret Naumes’ The Art and Craft of Case Writing; I finished reading it, but it was hard going. Later in 2016, I attempted a second case book, but didn’t finish it. (I’ve forgotten the author and title).
So, I’m still looking for a readable book on how to write and publish cases. Last week, I checked out Dawson Hancock and Bob Algozzine’s Doing Case Study Research from the university library. It’s a short introduction and I thought that I wouldn’t be out much time and effort if it, too, “went bad.”
Third Time’s the Charm, Right?
The best grade for Doing Case Study Research would be an incomplete. It’s a bit early in the game to pass judgment (not that that’s ever stopped me). Hancock and Algozzine got me with their Preface in which they said that they aimed to show readers how to “…plan, conduct, and write up a case study research project” (p. ix). This was exactly what I’d hoped the book would be, so my expectations increased.
Maybe they were too high. Aside from the Preface, the first 38 pages mostly disappointed me. Hancock and Algozinne aren’t joking about the book being for beginners; they belabor some very basic points about research, such as the difference in quantitative and qualitative approaches. Too often, the authors don’t even relate the material that they are presenting to case-study research. (Based on my reaction, I’m obviously the wrong audience for at least part of the book).
Another problem is that the book is “padded out” with example after example of published case-study research. The examples go on for pages, but the authors summarize each of the studies in about a paragraph. I’m not sure what the reader is supposed to gain from this laundry list.
A Ray of Sunshine – Chapter 5 (pp. 31-38)
By the time I hit Chapter 5, I was pretty negative. But Chapter 5 gave me reason to hope. The authors present three different ways that one can classify cases studies (based on the work of other authors). The classifications are –
- ethnographic / historical / psychological / sociological
- Intrinsic / instrumental / collective
- exploratory / explanatory / descriptive
Obviously, I’m not doing this material justice in this short summary. But I got a lot out of it; specifically, Hancock and Algozzine taught me about the wide scope of case research, broadening my ideas of what I might do as a case researcher. It was a nice way to close my reading.
The close gives me hope that the latter part of the book will be better.