- 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 the entire book) – 3.5 out of 10
Our friends in economics introduced me to the idea of a sunk cost. A sunk cost arises when you base your decisions now on unrecoverable costs that you incurred in the past. A professor once said that a good example would be an elderly married couple who hate each other but won’t divorce because “we’ve been married for 40 years.” Economists tell us that making decisions based on sunk costs is irrational.
When I’m reading a book that isn’t working for me, I often debate whether – by continuing – I’m making a sunk-cost decision. While reading The Art and Craft of Doing Case Study Research, I kept asking myself that question. I finished the book, but I should have quit. I just wasn’t the right audience.
The book’s top three problems are 1) presentation, 2) presentation, and 3) presentation. You might be able to use Doing Case Study Research as a reference, but it’s hard to try to read it from start to finish. Hancock and Algozzine cover the basics, but they needed a wordsmith to help them make the book flow. Better organization, more subheadings, and less repetition would all improve the book.
Here are some things things that particularly irked me –
- As I noted in my first blog on this book, the authors continue to cite case studies from the literature, but they seldom tell the reader what he or she should look for when reading them. The reader wants to know what makes the cited case studies worth examining.
- I was reading along on page 58 when I found that nothing made sense. I went back and reread, eventually I realized that the authors had switched to discussing content analysis and case research. I know a bit about content analysis, or I would have been 100% lost. Where the topic comes from, the reader never knows.
- Chapter 13 (pp 78-81) brings things to a dull, but appropriate close. Essentially this chapter is “How to Write a Journal Article.” It isn’t bad information, but it has little to do specifically with writing cases.
To Be Fair…
The book isn’t all bad and I did learn a few things. I got some useful information when the authors discussed how to –
- summarize literature in tables (p. 51),
- format a case (p. 62) and
- write a research proposal for a case
Also, Hancock and Algozzine provide extensive references and a useful Annoted Bibliography (pp. 93-99) that includes a summary paragraph about each source.
I don’t want to be overly harsh. It’s very difficult to write well about research methods. Also, authors Hancock and Algozzine have since published two additional versions of Doing Case Study Research, so perhaps they ironed out some of the book’s problems.
But – after three tries – I’m still trying to find the right book about how to approach cases.