Example Of An Evaluation Of The Advantages AND Disadvantages Of Using Case Study, Comparative AND Historical Approaches As Research Methods Case Study
Qualitative research methods such as case studies, comparative and historical approaches have gained popularity and relevance as research methods within the field of social research such as international relations. This prominence has mainly been attributed to the unique features and advantages that these methods enjoy over other research methods in the study of complex social phenomena, events, groups, relations and communities within specific contexts (Becker, Bryman & Ferguson, 2012). Further, the capability of some of these research methodologies, such as case studies, to provide researchers with the ability or possibility of developing theories, evaluating programs and developing appropriate interventions has informed their relevance and invaluableness in international relations social research (Baxter & Jack, 2008). Through the use of examples, the aim of this essay paper is to appraise the values, worth and limitations of using these three qualitative research approaches. This evaluation and analysis will be done in the context and for the purposes of research on my dissertation topic: “The effective majors of the United Nations to Combat Child Abuse: A case Analysis in Comparison of Nigerian and British Children”.
Meaning of Case Study
According to George and Bennett (2004), a case study refers to “the detailed examination of an aspect of a historical episode to develop or test historical explanations that may be generalizable to other events” (p.5) “with the aim of developing theory (“generic knowledge”) regarding the causes of similarities or differences among instances (cases) of that class of events” (p.18). Case studies are empirical inquiries involving the investigation of contemporary event or phenomena within certain social real-life contexts. A case study enables a researcher to carry out a close, detailed, in-depth and incisive analysis and examination of data within a particular specific context such as a geographical region. It studies an individual or groups of individuals and examines or analyzes how they are related to a given phenomenon. By facilitating the analysis of social phenomena in their context by use of various sources of data, case studies ensures the exploration of issues through more than one lens and perspective (Baxter & Jack, 2008).
Characteristics of a Case Study Approach to Research
According to Ghorra-Gobin (2003), case study research methodology has the following characteristic features that make them unique and important in social research such as international relation:
Descriptive and interpretative
Focused and Contextual
A case study approach to research is narrow as it focusses on a limited geographical area, person, event or group of persons in the society
Objective and Subjective Analysis
A case study combines the subjective feelings, views, options, beliefs and attitudes of the researcher and objective independent expert participation.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Case Study Methodology
According to Yin (2009), the main drawback of case studies is that single cases do not allow for generalization of data or information collected hence researchers must always verify their or confirm the veracity findings. Further, it is not abnormally possible to replicate the findings of a case study due to the unique nature of the data. This presents reliability problems. Moreover, there is the problem of bias whereby the researcher’s own feelings may subjectively influence the results of the study and hence interfere with their autonomy and objectivity.
Comparative Research Approach
According to Azaraian (2011), this is a methodology of social science research that uses comparisons in terms of the similarities and differences across cultures and states. It uses a multidisciplinary approach to research that enables researchers to come up with findings that show how one phenomenon is related to or different from another in a different context. This research strategy is thus focused on providing explanations through comparison of varied phenomena across time, systems and space (Pennings, Keman, & Kleinnijenhuis, 2006, p. 18).The methodological goal of comparative methods of research is the provision of identification, analysis and explanation of cross-cultural similarities and differences that exist between countries. The main attitude towards this method of inquiry is the problem of negotiating a compromise between different national and cultural contexts. It therefore the lack of coherence in the theoretical inquiry logics and references (Ghorra-Gobin, 2003)
Elements of Comparative Approach
The main elements of this approach to research according to Pennings, Keman, and Kleinnijenhuis (2006) include the single case study approach involving either one event, country or feature, a single historical case study over time, many country comparisons, two or more studies in an interval and few comparisons (p.20).
Limitations and Benefits of Comparative Research Methods
The Historical Approach
Mahoney and Rueschemeyer (2003) define a comparative historical approach as a “research tradition that encompasses any and all studies that juxtapose historical patterns across cases” (p.10). It involves the systematic examination of various historical accounts that have occurred in the past and which influence the subject matter or topic of the study at hand. According to these authors, the historical methods in social science research are basically concerned with providing explanations for and identifying causal factors that result in major historical outcomes that are of interest to both the researcher and stakeholders or society (Mahoney & Rueschemeyer, 2003, p.11). Historical researcher to them carry out an explicit analysis of historical sequences while taking serious not of the processes that unfold over time (.p12). They also carry out a contextual and systemic comparison of contrasting or similar cases (p.13).
Advantages of Historical Approaches to Research
The major advantages of the historical analysis are that it is rigorous in ensuring relevant answers are found and is controlled in that there are minimal external factors that influence the outcome of the study (Kreuger & Neuman, 2006). Additionally, this method of inquiry is systematic in that there is some logical sequence or pattern in the investigation, and its findings are verifiable and valid. Further, this method is biennial in that it enables us to find solutions to contemporary challenges by looking at the past, permits data revaluation and depicts how key social interactions, policies or relationships within a culture or country affects the phenomenon under study. For example, by using the historical approach to study the topic of child abuse in Nigeria, the researcher is able to understand how historical factors have contributed to the entrenchment of a culture of abuse against children, say of a particular gender.
Kohbacher (2006) states that the main limitation of using the historical research approaches is that there may be inaccuracy in the information obtained from historical or present data as it may have become obsolete or distorted over time. Further, the authors contend that this approach is time consuming, may give incomplete information and the credibility or reliability of the data obtained from historical sources may be questionable.
Personal Reflection on Appropriateness of Research Strategies to Dissertation Topic
The use of case study has become my choice of research method in my dissertation as it is the best research method that will help me to examine the United Nations data on child abuse in the specific contexts of Nigeria and Britain. I will therefore be able to carry out an empirical inquiry that investigates the issue of child abuse in its real life context. For example, this will enable me to make viable recommendations for interventions to ameliorate the situation.
On the other hand, my choice of comparative and historical methods for the dissertation has been informed by the need to gain insight into the causal factors or determinants of child labor and the similarities or differences in the response by the United Nations. These comparative-historical methods, as Lange (2013) observe also enable a researcher (like me) to “explore the characteristics and causes of particular phenomena” (Lange, 2013, p. 14).
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