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Case Study Research: Method and Practice

Ingo Rohlfing
ingo.rohlfing@uni-passau.de

Universität Passau

Ingo Rohlfing is Professor of Methods of Comparative Political Research at the Cologne Center for Comparative Politics, University of Cologne.

He researches social science methods with a focus on qualitative methods (case studies and process tracing), Qualitative Comparative Analysis and multimethod research.

Ingo is author of Case Studies and Causal Inference (Palgrave Macmillan) and he has published articles in Comparative Political Studies, Sociological Methods & Research and Political Analysis.

  @ingorohlfing

Course Dates and Times

Monday 13 – Friday 17 February 2023
Minimum 2 hours of live teaching per day
13:00 – 15:00 CET

Prerequisite Knowledge

Prior training in research design and qualitative methods is recommended, but is not required.


Short Outline

This course provides a highly interactive learning environment, using state-of-the-art online pedagogical tools. You will have access to online videos and tools before the course which will help us to go deeper into the material in the live sessions. The course is designed for a demanding audience and capped at a maximum of 12 participants so the teaching team can cater to the specific needs of each individual.

Purpose of the course

This course covers key elements of qualitative case studies and process tracing for the purpose of making causal claims about effects or mechanisms. Before the course starts, for each of the sessions, you can watch a recording that sets the stage for the live online sessions.

By the end of this course, you will have learned about all elements of comparative case studies and process tracing, and be able to implement a sound case study.

ECTS Credits

3 credits Engage fully with class activities 
4 credits Complete a post-class assignment


Long Course Outline

Key topics covered

The course combines recorded introductions of selected topics with interactive live sessions. 

Day 1

Discover the key dimensions of qualitative research useful for understanding the features and goals of a study, for example in terms of the distinction between hypothesis exploration and hypothesis tests.

Day 2

We address the challenge of case selection and types of cases such as the typical case and most-likely case. We discuss different types, what they are good for, and what case selection strategies they imply.

Day 3

We introduce process tracing, and learn how it can be used to study mechanisms. You will distinguish different ways of studying processes, and their pros and cons from a practical and methodological perspective.

Day 4

We introduce different types of comparisons. You'll learn how they relate to the types of cases and their choice, and the benefits – and limits – of informed pairwise comparisons. 

Day 5

We discuss different types of sources and how to use them to derive qualitative observations. This discussion will be complemented by a distinction between different modes of making causal claims, for example, by focusing on the ideas of 'uniqueness' and 'likelihoods'.

In each live session, we will work with participants' projects or published case studies to illustrate concepts from the methods literature.

You will have the opportunity to complete a post-class assignment. The assignment can be either an exposé in which you apply the course insights to your own project, or a short, methods-focused review of a published case study.


How the course will work online

The course combines asynchronous pre-class assignments, such as readings and watching pre-recorded videos, as well as daily two-hour live sessions with Zoom. To prevent Zoom fatigue and boredom, the course pedagogy includes small-group work, short, focused tasks and troubleshooting exercises using a range of online apps that support collective work and engagement with the course content.

 


Additional Information

Disclaimer

This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc). Registered participants will be informed at the time of change.

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, please contact us before registering.