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Comparative Case Studies Methods

Over time, Comparative Case Studies have been constructed, and it has been emphasized that comparisons across different contexts should be made. Comparative Case Studies are preferably used in such cases where experimental design is not feasible to use or where there is a need to understand and explain how features of the issue within the specific context can influence the success or failure of the program (Goodrick, 2014).

Comparative Case Studies consist of analysis and constructions of differences, similarities, and other patterns among two or more cases that have an aligned goal or focus. Both qualitative and quantitative data are included in a comparative case study. It, however, focuses on the generation or creation of a good understanding of the context and cases. Methods such as interviews, fieldwork visits, document analysis, and observations are commonly used, and data collection is employed (Goodrick, 2014).


Relative to formal and statistical models, Case Study Methods have been seen to be of comparative advantage (Goodrick, 2014). Some of the most prominent advantages are a better historical explanation, heuristic identification of hypotheses and new variables, measurement and operationalization of qualitative variables, complex relations incorporation such as path dependency and equality, and the ability to examine potential mechanisms in particular cases or particular contexts.


Despite the numerous advantages, case study methods also have some limitations in some contexts (Goodrick, 2014). To deploy this method of study, a person must have a range of expertise and skills. It is really important to match and assess the team against the required skills. Comparative case studies are seen to have been resource-hungry because of the extensive and intensive fieldwork required. However, in some cases, the case study can be entirely based on secondary data, and there will be no need for the collection of primary data. However, in these cases, the quality of the data must be suitable. If there is too much lag between the cases, then the findings can be considered less reliable.

Single-Case Research Designs

Single-case research design, also known as the single-subject design, is a method of evaluation used to test the success of a treatment or an intervention for a particular case. The case could be a community, a person, a school, or anything for that matter. It helps to provide evidence regarding the effectiveness of a proposed intervention. However, the sample size in such cases is relatively smaller. Commonly, the SCDs make use of visual analysis of data to compare the target behavior of the participants systematically. The target behavior is tested before and after the intervention is given (Willis, 2014). If the data indicates a change in the behaviors of the participants, it means the changes occurred due to the intervention. However, to have evidence or proof it was caused by the intervention, replication of the process is done, and then it is checked whether or not the results could be replicated.


One of the many advantages of using SSRD is that the study focuses more on how an individual subject uniquely responds to the factors of the experiment rather than making a full-fledged comparison of how many individuals responded to the factors of the experiment and how many did not (Willis, 2014). SSRD allows the researchers to conduct their research rapidly without having to look for and man so many suitable participants, which could be time-consuming.


Although in this method, a researcher does not have to have a large number of participants for the study, it has also had drawbacks, which state that since the findings have been collected from a single participant, they are not applicable to a general population as the data from one person cannot be generalized. All the tests or trials show us what happens to an individual subject rather than telling us about the phenomenon of a large number of participants.

Counterfactual Impact Evaluation

Counterfactual impact evaluation is a technique of comparison that involves a comparison of the outcomes that arose from a program or a policy made and tested. However, there are two groups involved in this study. One is the control group or comparison group, which is not tested, or the policy or program is not applied to them. The other is treated, or an experiment group, which is a test or the policy or program applied to them. Such a study enables you to study the effects of policy easily by comparing the behavior of the treated and the control group. The comparison provides us with information on the real causes that brought such changes in the experiment group. The case for counterfactual effect assessment depends on the need to gather confirmation and decide if arrangement targets have been met and, eventually, regardless of whether the assets were utilized effectively. These answers input into the plan and usage of future intercessions and budgetary choices. In light of this, the European Commission is focused on having an effect assessment as part of a strategy execution life-cycle.


For a researcher, the preferred choice in this regard is a single case study. This might be especially suitable for those marvels that are just less manageable to more shallow measures and tests (or, to be sure, any substantive type of evaluation) and also those for which our explanations behind comprehension or potentially clarifying them are unchangeably subjective as with huge numbers of the regularizing and moral issues related to the act of global relations (Gustafsson, 2017). From different epistemological and systematic viewpoints, a single contextual investigation examination can join both idiographic sui generis cases and, where the potential for speculation may exist, nomothetic contextual investigations reasonable for the testing and working of causal theories. At last, it ought not to be disregarded that a flag-preferred standpoint of the contextual analysis with a specific significance to universal relations exists at a more down-to-earth than hypothetical level (Gustafsson, 2017).


Goodrick, D. (2014). Comparative Case Studies: Methodological Briefs-Impact Evaluation No. 9 (No. innpub754).

Gustafsson, J. (2017). Single case studies vs. multiple case studies: A comparative study.

Levy, J. S. (2015). Counterfactuals, causal inference, and historical analysis. Security Studies24(3), 378-402.

Willis, B. (2014). The advantages and limitations of single case study analysis. E-International Relations.



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