Senior Research Fellow
Indian Agricultural Statistics Research
Institute (IASRI), New Delhi
Case study method is an important method of social research.
This method is extensively used in sociology, education,
political science, public administration, management and
psychology. Library and information science is not an
exception to it.
A case study is deep and intensive study of a particular social
unit, the field of case study method is limited but it aims at
studying all aspects of a social unit.
According to P.V. Young“Case study is a method of exploring and analyzing the life of
a social unit, be that unit a person a family, institution, cultural
group or even an entire community.”
F.L. Whitney says“Case study is a complete analysis and report of the status of
an individual subject with respect as a rule to specific phases
of his total personality.”
Goode and Hatt says“Case Study is a way of organizing social
data so as to preserve the unitary character of social object
1. Study of single unit: Under this method only one unit is
selected for purpose of investigation among all the units of the
universe. The selected unit may be a large or small depending
upon the nature of the study.
According to Giddings: The unit can be a person, a single
accident of his life or a whole nation, empire or a historical
2. Complete Study: Under this method we have to make a study
of the unit in its wholeness, i.e. it is an approach which views
any social unit as a whole. This unit is taken as representative
of a group and only such aspects of his life are studied that are
relevant to the problem under study.
Intensive or depth study: Under this method an investigator
has to employ all his skills in systematic gathering of enough
information about a unit to permit one to understand how it
Qualitative Study: Under this method the researcher has to
depend heavily upon his own observation and logic rather than
Flexible Method :The case study method is flexible in
character therefore a researcher has complete independence in
approaching the problem from any angle that he consider
desirable and fruit bearing from his point of view. He has also
right to change, omit or distort the variable under study
keeping in view that the results are not effected.
Case studies are not limited to any single source of data
collection. A number of sources of data collection should be
employed by the researcher.
Interviewing individuals; and
Personal records: Most of the people keep personal records,
documents letters and write their autobiography or memoir.
These documents play an important role in the case study as they
contain description of the important events of the life of the writer
as well as his relation towards them.
Life histories: Life history is the study of various events of
respondent’s life together with attempt to find their social
significance. Life history data is generally gathered through
prolonged interview with the responds, use of any other written
material about his life.
Personal Documents: Personal Documents e.g. Diaries, memoir,
Personal letters: Personal letters including diaries, and
Interviewing individuals: Interview with the subject,
relatives, friends, teachers and counsellors etc.
Observations: Observation by the researcher or his informants
of physical characteristics, social qualities, or behaviour.
Research goes beyond the securing of data for the purpose of
information. It must help to explain causal relationships. Case
study research involves an attempt to publish certain principles
in the analysis of social situations, which the case studies will
bring to light. In library and information science the use of
case study method in the contemporary research is increasing
day by day.